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What is at stake for the church and same-sex marriage

york-pride-2015-rainbow-roadEarlier this week I was part of a discussion in our church about the question of same-sex marriage. We all began by sharing our own personal involvement in the issue, before tabling our questions. There were a good number who had no personal stake—but some had very close family members who were gay, and for whom this issue has closed off the church and faith, and left them angry and wounded. It was within that context that we explored some of the questions in the discussion.

Other events this week have raised at least two other sets of issues which also impinge on this debate. The Episcopal Church in the USA made the decision to authorise marriage liturgies which remove any reference to the sex (gender) of those being married. In response to this, Justin Welby issued a strong statement about the Anglican Communion:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today expressed deep concern about the stress for the Anglican Communion following the US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ resolution to change the definition of marriage in the canons so that any reference to marriage as between a man and a woman is removed.

Not surprisingly, the conservative evangelical organisations GAFCON and Reform went further in their objections, focussing less on the process of Anglican decision-making, and more on the significance for Anglican doctrine and understanding.

The problems for the rest of the Anglican Communion have already been noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the fundamental reason that it is a mistake – and the reason why it is so destabilizing – is that it is a significant departure from Holy Scripture. This is a departure which Christians are not at liberty to make.

With this action, TEC has officially rejected the Anglican Communion’s standard, Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which expresses the Communion’s received and historic understanding of marriage and sexual relationships. TEC has now taken the pattern of behaviour which Lambeth describes as ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and equated it with Holy Matrimony. (GAFCON)

The unity for which Jesus prays is built on the foundation of the teaching he revealed and entrusted to his apostles, recorded for us in the Scriptures. Jesus is not silent on the definition of marriage. “Haven’t you read,” he said to the religious leaders who sought to redefine marriage in his own day, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19.4-5)

In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching. (Reform)

There are several interesting things about these statements. First, they are actually quite moderate in tone, and they are located not just in a biblicist reading of Scripture, but within the context of previous Communion discussions. Secondly, although the Reform statement is ‘authored’ by Susie Leafe, there is no doubt that this would have been agreed by Rod Thomas, who is Chair of the Reform council but also has been appointed as the next Bishop of Maidstone. To that extent, the Reform statement answers my call for an episcopal voice countering the idea that the Church’s doctrine of marriage is a ‘busted flush.’ I still wish that more moderate voices were willing to put their heads above the parapet (to mix my metaphors).

(It has been drawn to my attention that the CEEC Call to Prayer was signed by Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, in his capacity as President of CEEC. It includes criticism of both Alan Wilson’s role in the Pemberton tribunal, and the decision of York Minster to ‘bless’ the Gay Pride march. I think it must constitute the only episcopal comment on these two things thus far.)

(Further update: I understand that Justin Welby has asked diocesan bishops not to comment on this issue in public. I am unclear as to why such restriction has not been applied to suffragans, notably Alan Wilson.)


But if you doubted that the status of Scripture is a key issue at stake, there is confirmation from some other places. John McGinley, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Leicester and a New Wine regional leader, offers this reflection on the regional Shared Conversation in which he took part:

I returned with great concern that the majority of the participants had lost any clear understanding of the Bible as authoritative in their lives. The approaches were shocking to me, and, as a result, my approach was shocking to them. This confirmed that we are already two churches, one which sees the Bible as a helpful collection of writings from which to draw inspiration but which can be used to say whatever we want it to, or simply be ignored. The other seeks to submit to Scripture as we interpret it and apply it to our lives and trust in its goodness as God’s word to us, even when it is painful and challenging. The result of this is that there were many moments of incredulity expressed by people from different positions as they realised others in the room held a belief so far from their own.

And look at this reflection by Mark Vasey-Saunders on Steve Chalke’s Open Church event:

Simply, for evangelicals (whose identity is centred around being ‘Bible people’) to make a very public shift in their biblical interpretation on a controversial issue necessitates having a serious discussion about how we read the Bible, and at present there is little sign this is happening.

Given its current official position, the challenge for the Church of England is to hold together these two issues as stake—the pain and rejection felt by those disagreeing with it, and the consistent teaching of Scripture which underlies the Church’s position. In a sense, the Shared Conversations are aimed at closing this perceived gap, but all the evidence I have seen is that they have just confirmed the distance between two views, as McGinley highlights above. But the problem is more widespread than that. We appear to be on the edge of a complete failure of communication within both Church and culture. Vasey-Saunders goes on to comment about Open Church:

I should say clearly that I would defend to the utmost the need for gatherings like this, which are safe spaces for LGBTI Christians and their allies, but it concerned me that even the conference organisers seemed unable to recognise the extent to which it was not safe for others.

(And this is why I declined to attend.) And this ‘lack of safety’ has even encroached into the Shared Conversations. John McGinley was taken aback by being taken aside:

I will share one particularly difficult example of this. In a facilitated session one person said that the orthodox position was responsible for their friend’s suicide. While I showed concern for their loss, and acknowledged the hurt caused by prejudice and judgemental attitudes within churches, I rejected the direct link between holding an orthodox understanding of sexual relationships and their friend’s decision to end their life. I then shared how I felt that the celebration of same-sex relationships was deeply damaging to society through the confusion it brings to issues of identity, relationships, gender, sin, etc. and how it undermines the position of heterosexual marriage which is God’s intended pattern for sexual relationships. Following this facilitated discussion the facilitator approached me privately to say that a complaint had been made against me for expressing the above views. The facilitator explained that they had answered the complaint by saying that they didn’t think I had expressed that view and didn’t believe I held it. When I confirmed that I did they were surprised as they didn’t think anyone would hold such views and then suggested that what I had shared was unhelpful. I suggested this was exactly the purpose of these conversations, to share our views feely, and stood by my views.


Increasingly, in public discourse there is no ‘middle voice’ allowed between two ends of the spectrum. For the wider media, polarisation is the stuff of circulation numbers and sales, so pitching the argument as between liberated and liberal gay men and women and homophobic, racist bigots makes for good copy. But the problem is wider than that. In an otherwise intelligent piece on the challenge facing the Church, Cole Morton manages to avoid any reference to principled, intelligent defence of the Church’s current teaching. And this is in a context where Christians in Oregon, USA, were not only fined an eye-watering $135,000 for ’emotional damage’ in refusing to support same-sex marriage, but were then barred from speaking of their views in public. It is a context where our own Secretary of State for Education reaches for same-sex marriage (now on the statute books for just over a year!) as the expression of British values, against which we should test children for signs of religious radicalisation.

All this is going to make it harder to have the discussions we need to. As recent conversations have made clear to me, for most ordinary Christians (i.e. not those in full-time ministry) there is still some way to go to really understanding the issues, let alone coming to some sort of conclusion about them. And the danger here is a loss of confidence in Scripture as a pastoral document which, on sexuality as on other issues, expresses God’s deepest and gracious concern for our lives, for us to be the best that we can be.


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179 Responses to What is at stake for the church and same-sex marriage

  1. Peter Carrell July 8, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    Thanks Ian.
    That is one of the best posts I have read over these tumultuous last few weeks re these matters!
    I agree, but the way, about the moderate tone of the Reform and GAFCON statements.

    • Ian Paul July 9, 2015 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks for the endorsement Peter. Glad you found it useful.

  2. Christine July 8, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    Hi Ian,

    Thank you for this. I will re-read it and continue to pray and reflect.

    I speak here as a lay person and for now I wish to comment on this excerpt from one of your quotes above: ‘…it is a significant departure from Holy Scripture. This a departure that Christians are not at liberty to make.’ Amen. Those who have departed from the church’s doctrine on Christian marriage are also departing from Holy Scripture and I do not think that they can reasonably expect the church to follow them and to depart from its own doctrine and, in doing so, to depart from Holy Scripture.
    I

    Homophobic bullying grieves me, as does every form of bullying. I think that those who are now putting pressure on the church to depart from Holy Scripture just to suit them are also guilty of a form of bullying, yet some of them do not seem to recognise their own inconsistency in their attitude to bullying.

    One example of what I have described here as ‘bullying’ is the hefty fine imposed on the ‘conscientious objector’ who did not make a cake for a same-sex couple (case referred to in your article above). I have seen the scriptures used in defence of victims of homophobic bullying but the same passage in the scripture has not been used in defence of the baker who was fined. One recent instance of this is the article ‘Judge not: Jesus said it, but what did he mean?’, which was linked by Jonathan Merritt in a tweet on 6th July 2015. I quote from this article: ‘ If every Christian actually followed Jesus’ lead, the Christian movement would be the least judgemental but most influential the world has ever seen.’

    It was my impression from the article and from the video at the end of the article that the writer was suggesting that Jesus would have made a cake for a same-sex couple. On 7th July 2015 I responded to this article with the following tweets : ‘I appreciate the goodwill of the article. I’d like a ‘least judgemental’ attitude also to extend to the ‘conscientious objector’ who was given a hefty fine because he did not make a cake for a same-sex couple.’ To date no one has responded to my tweets in any way. I remain concerned about what I see as an inconsistent application of the words of Jesus about judging others.

    Thank you again for your informative and enlightening article.

    • Christine Quinn-Jones July 8, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      I forgot to include my surname on my earlier post – here it is now!

  3. BG July 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    Thank you for continuing to blog about this issue, I find your comments helpful and thought provoking. I think it’s undeniable that the polarising of opinions is as rock steady as ever and there doesn’t appear to be any way that common ground can be reached. As an aside, I doubt that either of us will be here when the future generation(s) of the Church look back with wonder at how we argued about this issue because the trend among young people (I think) is to be inclusive on this matter.

    However, I find myself stuck in no-man’s land. I can neither affirm same-sex marriage because I can find no support for it in the Bible but nor can I deny that to all appearances the Church is alienating not just gay Christians but the wider society. I think the Church needs to be wiser in its approach without being disingenuous. To that end I think of the example of John the Baptist telling of the coming of Christ. According to John He will come with an axe and a winnowing fork and will burn up the chaff. But Jesus failed to fulfil John’s expectations and brought John to the point of questioning whether Jesus was the promised one! For John godliness was expressed through a “wilderness” lifestyle. It was right to withdraw, to be separate, to be apart for God. But Jesus mixed with sinners, He took godliness (and God) into the streets.

    Sometimes I think the Church believes that we have to be like John – godliness for us means standing apart (I know that holiness means being set apart for God) but in the process we become aloof instead. Like John we become detached from the very people we’re meant to communicate with and reach for God. We need to become more user friendly, more accessible, more like Jesus in our accessibility. We need to be where people are hurting. That doesn’t have to mean compromise on our part but it does have to mean being available and being welcoming and supportive as far as we can be and people being confident that we’ll listen without conditions. In a nutshell, we need to use the materials we have to build bridges and I think we’re using that material to build fences at the moment.

    • Ian Paul July 9, 2015 at 10:58 am #

      Thanks, BG, that is an interesting reflection, and we have just been thinking about the role of judgement in Jesus’ ministry here at the Tyndale NT Study Group.

      Two reflections. First, whilst the NT epistles are frequently concerned about keeping in good standing with outsiders, they also have a strong thread of being distinct from society. In fact, I wonder if the two don’t go together: the more distinct we are, the more we need to be of good standing in whatever way we can; the more we are in good standing, the more careful we need to be about being distinctive.

      The question then is whether the church’s stance on SSM belongs to a point of truth on which we need to be distinctive, or a mere custom on which we need to accommodate for the sake of reputation.

      • BG July 9, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

        Thank you for taking the time to reply. I completely agree on the continuing need, value and rightness of being distinct (even counter-cultural), but being distinct in what way(s)? We are called to be the light of the world, to be like a city set on a hill, to be light stars that shine in the night (dark) sky. So we are to be seen, but we are also, therefore, being watched. How are we being perceived? How distinct are we being?

        I would suggest that one branch of a middle road in this argument where it’s so easy to take sides is to be seen to be supportive of those we call to live a celibate lifestyle. That requires a life of self-discipline and self-denial. Are we at large seen to be a Church community/family that live lives of self-discipline and self denial? Would those to whom we issue this call to live this self-circumscribed lifestyle find encouragement and support from living in a community/family which shared this approach?

        It’s a real challenge to us as Christians to take on this lifestyle for ourselves, although it’s not a challenge that should be out of character for Christians. But are we prepared to (try and) make a life of self-denial and self-discipline less lonely for those we call to be celibate?

        How would the world, how would society at large perceive us then? That’s my aim, to find a way to bridge the gulf, to create a level playing field, to demonstrate the love and grace of Christ to those that I feel we leave feeling rather lonely and put upon.

        Imagine how distinctive Christians, the Church family, would be if we were seen to live in support of the self-denied by denying ourselves what we are entitled to in order to make it easier for them.

  4. Andrew Godsall July 8, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    Ian: thanks for a useful post again. A few observations.

    The issue about an episcopal voice countering the idea that the Church’s doctrine is a busted flush is really quite complex in itself, given where it has come from. Rod, as Bishop of Maidstone, will only really be a voice for a small and particular constituency, just as the flying bishops are a voice of the few rather than a voice of the Church. I understand the political need to have such bishops, but their ‘voice’ is distinctly compromised by the manner of their existence. And please note I am not saying anything about individuals, just about the fact that such bishops believe themselves to be in impaired communion with the Church they serve. You can’t claim to speak for the Church and at the same time claim to be in impaired communion with most of it.

    Secondly, the conference and report on it by Mark Vasey-Saunders you refer to seems to have moved on itself now from the time that the report was written. It refers to Tony Campolo as being the only speaker taking a conservative position. And we know that he no longer does. Did attending that conference, where it seems he was challenged, help him to abandon scripture? Or is that he realised at the conference, as many of us have realised over the last 30 years, that the scriptures on this issue can be read rather differently to the way we once thought once we actually looked at the context. So it isn’t that we need a serious discussion about how we read the bible – that has been going on for decades, if not centuries, I think. It’s rather that we need to publicly acknowledge legitimately different understandings of scripture as well as legitimately different understandings of what the supremacy of scripture means.

    Thirdly, I’m really unclear what you think IS at stake for the Church? If some within the Church of England and Anglican Communion DO affirm same sex marriage, do you think they need to be expelled? Or can we accomodate both a conservative and a liberal view on this matter? Serious question, to which I can’t get an answer as yet.

    • David Shepherd July 9, 2015 at 11:30 am #

      Andrew,

      As a means of responding to an earlier question that you put to me on accommodating both conservative and liberal views on this matter, I would suggest that there is no middle ground.

      The fallacy of ‘a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid’ is, as you know, literally a failure to distinguish between ‘[what is true] in a certain respect and [what is true] absolutely’.

      Proponents on both sides of these debates about the State and Church affirmation of same-sex relationships through marriage have resorted by implication to this logical error.

      Instead of scrutinizing *why* specific types of relationships have either been historically affirmed as marriage or excepted from it, they treat any such legal or biblical qualifications as little more than a thinly veiled justification for either disregarding scriptural evidence or perpetuating blatant bigotry.

      The status of marriage does not countenance partial recognition. To legalise a rite of marriage in one place is to legislate for its recognition everywhere. The same was true of women in the episcopacy.

      The status of marriage will require the CofE to either affirm canon law and our liturgy as they stand, or to amend them for the entire CofE as TEC has. Attempting to reduce the divergence between liberals and conservatives on this matter to a mere difference in interpretation is a facile notion. Eventually, one or the other ‘interpretation’ will gain ascendancy and require wholesale recognition.

      Thus, if General Synod should ultimately decide to affirm same-sex relationships as marriage, there may be yet further vain pronouncements about ‘an open process of reception’ and ‘mutual flourishing’, ‘while maintaining the highest possible degree of communion’ with not only the disaffected Anglicans here, but also the two-thirds majority of worldwide provinces, known as the Global South. In reality, as evidenced by those, who unapologetically hold to the apostolic tradition on marriage, report from the Shared Conversations, caustic treatment awaits, often caricaturing us as impenitent homophobes and ignorant literalists.

      In the light of such harmful repercussions, downplaying the rift as a mere difference of interpretation is only a short-term objective aimed at assimilation. Only a fool would fail to recognise the long-term goal of demanding wholesale affirmation and the consequent demonization (as the natural successors of those who defended slavery and female oppression) of those who oppose the revisionist position.

      The rhetoric of abhorring the latter consequence in the strongest possible terms will only pay lip service to the ideal of mutual accommodation. The reality on the ground is much harsher.

    • Ian Paul July 9, 2015 at 11:57 am #

      Thanks Andrew for the observations and the question.

      On the question of bishops speaking for the Church, it seems to be there are two issues here—the institutional and the theological. I think you are right that some might see themselves as being in ‘impaired communion’ with other bishops, dioceses or provinces. But to my knowledge Rod certainly does not see himself in this position in relation to the C of E. If he was, he would not be able to take up his post.

      But even if we were, or comes to be, then there is, I think, historical precedent for understanding oneself as still able to speak for the Church if one is in theological continuity with the Church’s historic teaching. I was rather baffled to read Alan Wilson’s letter to his diocese, in which he talked about the bishop being a focus of unity—as if that meant simply keeping all views together, regardless of how wide or contradictory they are. Theologically and historically, bishops are focuses of unity *around the teaching position of the church* and not simply as splitting the difference between all the ‘Anglican’ views that happen to exist.

      On the Communion, my understanding is that it does not have a mechanism for expulsion—but that if it had, the African churches would have pressed for this long ago. I don’t see denominational links as all that significant, because I don’t believe denominations have a theological status. If I lived in the US, I cannot imagine any way in which I would see myself as part of the Episcopal church.

      Does that answer the question?

      • Andrew Godsall July 10, 2015 at 7:07 am #

        Thanks Ian: you don’t really answer my specific question. It was whether you, personally, believe that those who are liberal on this issue should be expelled.

        As to Bishops, I was insistent it was about the specific offices and not the individuals. The flying bishops and the bishop of Maidstone are currently constituted to disagree with what the Church of England holds to be the case: that women are able to be priests and bishops. So they are in impaired communion with the Church and can’t therefore speak for it.

        • Ian Paul July 10, 2015 at 10:24 am #

          I am not sure I believe in ‘expulsion’. We have pretty well-defined processes of discipline for clergy, and I think I would expect that, whatever debate takes place, that the normal processes should be implemented. Otherwise the Church descends into incoherence.

          I understand your configuration of these episcopal appointments. But can you point me to any expression of ‘impaired communion’ with them that you use. I cannot see how Canterbury could, at the level of process, appoint someone to a post which was understood to be structurally in ‘impaired communion’ with him. The point is rather that they are not.

          • Andrew Godsall July 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

            Ian: you are still not quite addressing my question. You posted quite a lot about TEC. My question is whether you, personally, believe they should be expelled from the Anglican Communion, and if so, how would you do it now that the Covenant has failed to get the necessary support? (And note, of course, that if you can’t expel them, then we live in a both/and kind of Church don’t we?

            As to impaired communion: how are these bishops in full communion with the Church they serve if they don’t actually accept quite a lot of its ministers as validly celebrating the sacraments?

    • Clive July 10, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

      Dear Andrew

      The real issue is whether liberals can show enough tolerance to tolerate anyone else.

      It is not conservative to BELIEVE in Jesus’ words and to believe in Scripture because Jesus’ words about marriage ARE in Scripture.

      • Clive July 10, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

        Given that TEC called on the prophet Louis (whoever he is), prayed TO transgendered people rather than God and thanked the “Spirit of Life” rather than the Holy Spirit, then yes they have stepped too far.

        • Laurence Cunnington July 10, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

          Well, quite. I’m not a Cristian so what do I know – but when I read a sermon by the Presiding Bishop on the Resurrection it appeared to mean little more than “isn’t it lovely the tulips have come up again this year.” Now, I might agree with her but it seems perilously close to the point where Christianity ends and atheism starts!

          • Ian Paul July 10, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

            Laurence, yes, it is pretty evident to anyone with eyes and ears. I am puzzled why some Anglicans find it so hard to spot the complete nonsense that is going on in ECUSA.

        • Ian Paul July 10, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

          Clive, there are numerous examples like that. Do you have a link to this one?

          • Clive July 11, 2015 at 7:03 am #

            There are several reports on the same event.

            Here is one of them:
            http://juicyecumenism.com/2015/06/30/lgbt-episcopalians-celebrate-disordering-our-boundaries/

          • Jonathan Tallon July 13, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

            It seems to me that the worst possible interpretation has been placed upon the event (judging from the link that Clive gives).

            The congregation at an unofficial meeting were thanking Louie Crew for ‘prophetic’ service to the Episcopal Church. The link itself makes clear that Louie had been involved in the fight for LGBT rights/equality for 40 years, and the meeting was taking place on the day that liturgies were approved for use in TEC. So far, so unremarkable. I note that Louie’s comment that people should be ‘evangelicals for Jesus’ is ignored.

            There is no evidence in the link that people prayed TO transgendered people in the sense of replacing God. A prayer was taken from a blog that had a long running section entitled ‘We Pray: Prayers to and for the Transgendered Community.’ Where there are prayers ‘to’ the transgendered community in the blog, they are expressing God’s love etc to a person/community. We do exactly the same if we say ‘May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…’.

            To say that ‘Spirit of Life’ is heretical beggars belief. Is the Holy Spirit NOT the Spirit of Life? The Holy Spirit is ‘the Spirit of life’ according to St. Paul (Romans 8:2).

            There are enough disagreements in this debate without assuming the worst of those with whom you disagree.

  5. Jonathan Tallon July 8, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

    Part of the issue is over whether scriptural authority is at stake. There are (inevitably) a range of views within the CofE on scriptural authority and also scriptural interpretation, rather than ‘two churches’.

    This can be seen within the discussions that take place on Psephizo. Ian generally sees this as a matter of authority, because he doesn’t see how different interpretations could be valid.
    I generally see this as a matter of interpretation, because I believe a different interpretation from Ian’s is valid.
    James Byron would argue that scripture shouldn’t be given authority, and that we have a responsibility to own our own decisions. (I hope that I am not too far out in my characterisation of the different viewpoints).

    For me, issues of scriptural authority aren’t at stake. Only interpretations. I see no diminution of the role of scripture as a pastoral document.

    I am sorry for the experience John McGinley had, and I am glad that he participated in the conversations. However I don’t recognise myself in his characterisation of those with whom he disagrees (and I wonder whether those he is directly talking about would agree with it).

    • James Byron July 8, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

      Jonathan, thanks, that’s a fair statement of my views. 🙂

      I’d be against arguments from authority regardless, and would say so; but I do, admittedly, give it particular weight here, as I don’t believe the Bible can be interpreted to approve of homosexuality in any circumstance.

      That’s just my reading of the texts, of course. I fully accept that scripture can, in good faith, be interpreted differently.

    • Ian Paul July 9, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks Jonathan. In terms of the question of Scripture and the question of SSM, there are three sets of evidence to consider.

      First is the exegetical discussion around the context, canonical status and meaning of the texts. I am aware that we disagree on this…but I think I have some weighty names on my side. People like Via, Loader, Brooten, du Toit as well as observers like Wink and MacCulloch—who all support SSM—are clear that the Bible univocally and consistently speaks against the acceptability of any kind of same-sex sexual activity. It is interesting to me that some of the writings which are most influential, such as Matthew Vines’, are the weakest in terms of their reading of the texts.

      Second, it is interesting to me that where a church changes its position on this, it actually in practice implements a move away from Scripture. This appears to be the case for ECUSA, and this is the point made by the two statements from Reform and GAFCON. If the C of E were to change, in practice it would need to drop much of the biblical terminology from its marriage liturgy.

      Thirdly, in practice, as Vasey-Saunders and McGinley show, there is a very strong correlation between commitment to change on SSM, and either a lack of interest in or a lack of engagement with Scripture on this issue.

      Put together, these three issues seem significant to me.

  6. Gerald Coates July 8, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    I think conservative theologians – and of late Timothy Keller have done a great job for decades writing and speaking about homosexuality and more recently same sex marriage. Pastorally having grown up in the CofE, then going to the Brethren, getting baptised in the Spirit and helping start the House-church now New Church movement – I do not know of one person who has been made uwelcome because of same sex attraction. All evangelical churches I know at inclusive at the door and exclusive at the core. And we should remember the only part of the church that has been growing in the evangelical wing. Indeed it is outgrowing the Liberals, overtaken their losses and the church for the first time in my life is now on the increase. All the denominations that have accepted same sex marriage have been and are in rapid decline – these decisions sadly will only increase that design. and lasty. living in surrey there are plenty of liberal churches married gay people can be a part of – so the notion ‘the church has rejected us’ is plainly untrue – I could take you to several who would welcome gay people with oen arms – in my own area and the region.

    • James Byron July 8, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

      Gerald, I agree, in general, about evangelical growth, but I believe theology to be incidental to evangelicalism’s success. Accessibility and pastoral support are key.

      Evangelical churches tend to have culturally accessible services (worship songs in a contemporary style, audio-visual, stripped down liturgy, etc) and plenty social activities and pastoral support (cell groups, socials, etc). Evangelicalism is also organized nationally, and is quick to adapt to new media. And, of course, evangelicals evangelize.

      Culture affects evangelical churches as much as anyone. Evangelical churches tend to be liberal on divorce, setting aside explicit teaching from Jesus against remarriage; and many now support women in leadership positions. Neither has dented their success: just the opposite.

  7. Tricia July 8, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. Your question “What is at stake for the church” I feel can be answered in looking at the American Episcopal church. The fighting is about over now after approx 15 years and the final insult to God in denial of “He made them male and female” is complete and the ancient formularies of the church can be dispensed with. There has been millions of dollars spent in law suits over church property and the orthodox believers have begun a new church – the ACNA under GAFCON, which is in growth and the Episcopalian church in decline. This will mean devastation for our historic buildings and structures of the C of E. Maybe there will remain a State Church as a mouthpiece of government but God’s people will regroup and re-grow. We are now a post-Christian nation the Gospel is needed just as it was in the early church. The light will shine in the darkness and will not be overcome, but it will be painful and there will be persecution as in the early church. I have served the church for 30 years and have been considering the my future – it won’t be in an apostate church.

    • Pete J July 8, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

      Hi Tricia

      I’m sorry that you feel so upset over this issue. I think the ABC has been quite clear that no change in the church’s teaching on sexuality will be allowed, so I don’t think you need to worry.

      Can I ask why this in particular is make or break for you (and not say remarriage of divorcees, women priests, vestments, etc)?

      • Tricia July 8, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

        Hi Pete,
        I think you are over optimistic on the no change issue. If that is the case the revisionists are going to be furious. As one commentator said on the facilitated conversations – it has raised expectation of change and the snowball is gaining momentum. What is the point of the conversation? Why was not the statement that marriage is between one man one woman sufficient. Because the church is already compromised because of previous prevarication.
        I am a divorcee whose husband committed adultery and have remarried someone who God brought into my life. The Orthodox Church , although not Rome, allows for error and remarriage as we are all sinners, though not the same vows. Jesus states that divorce is only possible through adultery (the breaking of the physical bond of union). I was a young Christian when the women in ministry issue came in and I have many friends who have been ordained. I considered at that time that God could call who he wished to call and provided the Holy Spirit was the implementer then God could use men and women in his service. Indeed he has used me as a Reader. However, I have begun to consider that I was mistaken as it would seem that many feminists were ordained and are now in place Forming a Trojan horse within. The ratio of women who support the samesex marriage agenda is large. I consider that the Government had already ensured that those living in same sex unions had legal rights over property and pension, next of kin by use of civil union. The church cannot dictate how people live their lives and assistance was needed. Same sex marriage is a totally different issue. This is a natural relationship which predates Christianity, quite often with more than one wife. Jesus States in Matthew 19 what Christian marriage is. It is linked to God and His creation – there is to be only one man and one woman for life, which of course makes family and the Bible is certainly keen on genealogy. The genderless world being pushed by western society is a new Gnosticism. Sperm donation and surrogacy are going to bring about a hurting generation and the church needs to be there for them. I am not impressed by being told that the world has changed and the church must. The church must never conform to the world. The church must stand fast speak out in love and be ready for the fall out. I am wounded by the placing of the rainbow flag on the steps of York Minster and how can God’s blessing be given to a pansexual agenda.

        • Pete J July 8, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

          So you are saying that you are OK with the other things because you have personal experience of them and recognise that prior teaching on them was outside of Gods will?

          Do you think any gay people should be allowed to be part of the church and, if so, why does York Minster blessing the York pride march hurt you so much?

  8. James Byron July 8, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    Regarding the Oregon case, the unredacted order (pp.42-3, here) makes clear that the owners aren’t banned from defending traditional marriage in general, but from advertising that they’ll discriminate against LGBT customers. It’s strictly limited to their business activities.

    As for the wider issue of a “middle voice” being allowed, it’s undoubtedly legal to defend the traditional definition of marriage in the jurisdictions you reference (America of course has the First Amendment, and free speech protection was written into the English law), and Church of England bishops have voiced unanimous support for the church’s current teaching. What else did you have in mind?

    • Tricia July 8, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

      No. I am saying that Jesus’ included women in his ministry. If you remember Mary was encouraged to sit at his feet and learn and not expected to undertake the purely female social role model. Women in the early church were often main organisers from their own homes and we have never had separate places to sit in worship. It has never been a sin to be a woman. And Jesus actually first appeared to a woman and told her to tell the others.

      The teaching on divorce comes from Jesus himself who was actually dealing with the Jewish men’s ability under Mosaic Law to just say I divorce you three times to move on to another woman. He actually tightened marriage in favour of women as it was highly unlikely that a woman would commit adultery in these restrictive times and it was the only reason for divorce. Hence there incredulous answer in Matt 19.
      Your final question is interesting. Of course I know that Christ died on the cross for all our sins. I am a forgiven sinner and I want everyone to know the love of Jesus. He opens wide his arms on the cross to encompass us all. But first comes repentance and then new life. I have a problem with the word Gay. It is an identity made up in the 1990s by the sexual revolutionaries. To describe yourself as gay is to make that your identity, I don’t consider that one element of your character defines you. We alll sin in many ways every day, we have to continually pick up our cross and follow. We have to deny ourselves and become more like him. You identify yourself as a Christian on His terms not yours. To the woman caught in adultery (a sexual sin, as is homosexuality, incest etc) He asked whoever had no sin should throw the first stone and they all faded away. But he then turned and looked at her and said “Go and sin no more”. To be a Christian is to follow Christ and be a new creation. When you become a Christian you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and cannot live your life in rebellion with God. God and sin cannot co-exist that is why Jesus takes our sin upon himself. That is why God’s blessing cannot be given on sin.
      Same sex attracted people have always been a part of the church and have lived their lives in accordance with His teaching. Celibacy has always been a high calling.

      • Pete J July 9, 2015 at 7:24 am #

        OK, so before women were allowed to be bishops/priests, did you think the church was wrong in not letting them.

        I was using the word gay to mean people who are only attracted to their own gender, so I will take your answer to mean that you do think gay people should be allowed to be part of the church (perhaps under the condition of celibacy), but then I think you are very mistaken to be upset by York Minsters involvement in pride. Pride is about self-respect, dignity and equality, which as Christians I think we should believe in for all people, because we are all created in the image of God. All sinners, dependent on Christs grace. However, there are a great many people in this world, even in our own country who seek to dehumanise people from minorities.

        Of course pride is also about marching for rights (not to be sacked for being gay, allowed to use shops, hotels etc, not be persecuted by the police, AND be allowed to marry the one you love, etc) but in this country gay people already have these rights. Sadly in many other countries gay people are beaten and killed just because of who they are attracted to. York Minster, of course, is required to carry out the teaching of the church and will therefore be opposed to gay marriage, but it doesn’t mean they have to be opposed to all the other things pride is about.

        • Tricia July 9, 2015 at 9:10 am #

          As I only became a Christian in 1985, I had no idea of church doctrine. Women priests came in on a wave of feminism that women can do anything a man can and the church was caught up in this during the 1980s and 90s.
          Looking in hindsight as I now can I see that we are where we are from the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s. Many of those involved include Kinsey who proliferates the idea that children are born sexual beings and was actually denounced as a paedophiles but his ideas are now very much again to the fore, hence it being thought necessary that primary school children should be given sex education. The reason why our society has become so dysfunctional is that children now do not have the stability of married parents. Single parent households take children into poverty.
          In this country in 1967 homosexual behaviour was decriminalise provided it took place between 2 consenting adults in private. Peter Tatchell has spent his life reducing the age of consent from 21, then 18 and now 16. Homosexual male behaviour is an incredibly dangerous lifestyle and to put 16 year olds into that mix and tell them this behaviour is OK is criminal never mind against God’s teaching.
          The rainbow flag is a symbol of rebellion against God. It’s a celebration of all pansexual behaviour when God specifically made us male and female. We are now being told that we must celebrate a man who has breast implants and facial surgery and say he is a woman. All research shows that there is no reduction in suicide rates for those who “become the opposite sex”. Do you really celebrate with those individuals walking nude around the streets, or those who walk in their parade dressed in black leather boots and leading another human masked and chained. Do not be deceived by the Spirit of the age.
          Strange how those promoting “gay rights” have no regard for those who have the freedom of speech and the right to bring up their children without interference.
          There is no right to marry the one you love as you put it. You cannot marry your brother or sister or your child. There are reasons why not.

          • Pete J July 9, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

            OK so what I am hearing is that you have a particular problem with this issue in the church because you think gay people are evil or behave in an evil way. I am using “gay” to mean anyone who has lifelong attraction to the same sex.

            I can reassure you that young school kids are only not being taught how to have sex. They are being taught not to use sexuality to bully people, for example, niece is ten and all the school have taught her is that you shouldn’t use “gay” as an insult. She has no clue what it means. I was given all my sex education at the tender age of 11, some 20 years ago – this is hardly a new thing! I can’t say for sure if it increased or decreased sexual deviancy amongst my peers, but age 32 Im still a virgin so I don’t think it had a harmful effect on me. As I understand it, it was started as a reaction against a spate of teen pregnancies, not to encourage them. Sex education in schools is of course controlled by our democratically elected government and not by gay people or gay rights campaigners. There are a higher proportion of MPs who identify as Christian than in the general population. There is a lower proportion of MPs who identify as not straight than in the general population.

            Do you consider women not as good as men? Do you think only men should teach and guide the church? Please hear me when I tell you that you are incredibly special to God, whatever you may have been told. Over and again his word honours women and all of it was written when women were considered the property of their husbands. I’m thinking in particular of the apostle to the apostles.

            From what you’ve written previously you clearly accept that some people have lifelong attraction to the same sex. Do you mind me asking how that fits into your worldview of gender and sexuality (I mean in terms of God only making people distinctly male or female and allowing only heterosexual sex?) and how do you fit people who are born intersex into that worldview?

            How do you view science? Do you think if there is good scientific evidence for something, e.g. dinosaurs, do you think that it is a good idea to incorporate it into our understanding of the world or do you think it should be resisted as damaging to our faith?

            Can I ask where you’ve got your understanding of pride festivals from? The vast majority of those marching are clothed and most of the remainder are wearing nothing more shocking than you would see at the beach.There are going to be different rules in different towns, but normally actual nudity is banned. But God sees us when we are on the loo after a bad pasty so I doubt he’s offended by the odd bum. People march at pride for different reasons and LGBT people are even more heterogeneous in attitude and behaviour, so I think it is problematic to judge them all as one.

            Wikipedia says “Gay pride or LGBT pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.” York Pride became national news because a vicar in hull denounced all gay people as akin to paedophiles and said that the church should not be welcoming them. Do you think York Minster or this vicar were more loving to the people attending York pride?

            Do you think that all straight people should be judged by those involved in sado masochism?

            Would your perspective on gay people change if it was proven to be innate?

            What do you think Gods motivation was when he created marriage?

            Can I ask for examples of when gay people have interfered with you bringing up your children (or someone else’s if you don’t have any)? Can I ask why feel you are being stopped from airing your views? I hear this a lot from anti gay Christians yet there seem to me to be hundreds of blog entries, books, podcasts etc expressing these views and I just don’t see that there is any attempt to silence them. So I am just asking out of confusion, really.

            I realise you are against the right of gay people to marry, so which other gay “rights” are you against?
            Having legal protection against being sacked for being gay?
            Being allowed to serve in the armed forces?
            Being allowed goods and services relating to sexuality (eg wedding cake)?
            Being allowed goods and services not relating to sexuality (eg taking a taxi)?
            Having protection against physical violence from those feel threatened by your existence?
            Being allowed to hold hands in public?
            Being allowed healthcare?
            Being allowed to adopt (given there are 85k children in care who would otherwise grow up without a mother or a father)?
            Being allowed contact with children (maybe relations or being allowed a job in a nursery, say)?
            Being not killed, tortured or imprisoned by the state for sexual intercourse?
            Being not killed or imprisoned by the state for having physical qualities usually associated with the opposite gender?
            Being allowed to attend a church?
            Being allowed to be a Christian?
            Being allowed to take communion?
            Being allowed to receive prayer?
            Being allowed to hold religious beliefs that are outside of Church of England teaching?
            Being allowed to socialise or have fellowship with other gay people?
            Being allowed to campaign against social justice?
            Being allowed access to justice?
            Being allowed to be forgiven?

            Just a clarification, I wasn’t suggesting there was a right to marry *anyone* you love, I was just saying that gay people can legally marry in most of the UK now. I was just rather clumsily suggesting that gay people, like most straight people, marry for love.

            Another clarification, earlier when I was asking if you had come to your interpretation of divorce etc through personal experience, I wasn’t suggesting that was a bad thing. It’s exactly how we should be interpreting scripture, because if we can’t apply theology to reality then it is pointless. Jesus used stories that his followers could relate to for exactly this reason, so I don’t think we should be ashamed when our personal experience colours our understanding of scripture, I think we get a deeper and better understanding of it.

            If you were gay, do you think you would want to get married? How would you like people in your church to treat you?

            I’m sorry for so many questions.

          • Pete J July 9, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

            In my response I meant “campaign *for* social justice. Lol

          • Ian Paul July 13, 2015 at 9:49 am #

            Can I make an observation here? I often find that the length of posts is in inverse proportion to their clarity and helpfulness.

  9. Pete J July 8, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    Also regarding the Oregon case, the payout was so high because the Christian store owners had published the lesbian couples details online and they received death threats as a result. The couple had foster children living with them.

    I think the characterisation of this as being who we might call evangelicals versus who we might call liberals is misleading. Liberals are perhaps more likely to support gay marriage than evangelicals, but many people who have a high view of scripture support gay marriage, they just have a different interpretation. I’m sure there are also plenty of liberals who do not support gay marriage. Evangelicals need to be careful they are worshipping Christ and not legalism and liberals need to be careful they are worshipping Christ and not nothing at all

    • Tricia July 9, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

      Dear Pete j
      Wow what a post.

      I don’ t think all same sex attracted people are evil. I do happen to know some very talented and funny ones. But if you are a Christian you are called to be salt and light to those around you. You are called to live a life compatible with the teachings which have been around for 2000 years. The early church lived in a culture which is very similar to our culture now and Christians were different. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God and indwells you to lead you into all truth.
      Rev Tinker was misquoted by a hostile press and he was making a pioint about sexual sin in which list paedophile comes under.
      I feel that you do not realise the spiritual battle that is being waged at the moment in western society. The decline of Christianity has left a vacuum and the LGBT movement is a well funded powerful lobby which seeks to destroy Judeo Christian morality. In Ireland an American LGBT lobby charity group spent 25 million dollars to push for the Yes vote in the referendum – even some EU MPS protested at the bias from the government and media.
      In the UN pressure is being put on poor countries and withholding of aid and assistance to force the LGBT agenda on them. This is something that we only legalised 60 years ago. Out of 196 countries in the world only a handful have same sex marriage. Germany is notable on this issue – they have Civil Union and Angela Merkel’s response to pressure is to say “it is not in the interests of the children”. We have Stonewall lobbyists with the ear of government and in the Education Department.
      This is an issue about approx 1.7% of the population. Good laws are made for the best interests of the majority, with consideration for minority groups. Civil Union covers this.
      Children should be taught normative behaviour and not be confused by these gender ideologies. Bullying is bullying fior whatever reason and children need to be taught to be kind and sensitive to others in whatever context.
      If I was same sex attracted I would not be acting upon my impulses as I am a Christian. There are many faithful men and women living out their lives in obedience to Christian teaching. When you read Matthew 19 and the Marriage Service it is totally clear that marriage is only for two people who are male and female.
      It is very upsetting and disconcerting that we are so busy fighting heresy within the church when our brothers and sisters in Christ are being slaughtered and our Government thinks it’s not PC to offer assistance. Would you convert or die? I hope I would cry Jesus is Lord as the Sudanese men did on that Libyan beach.
      May God bless you and enlighten the eyes of your soul

      • Pete J July 10, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

        Tricia

        I’m a bit confused by your message because you say you don’t think all gay people are evil, but then go on to say how he “LGBT movement” is causing all sorts of evil in the world. I don’t think you can really believe both these things at once. BTW you are aware that being gay is not some evil version of the Masons? People discover they are gay at puberty and then have to live with it. Like straight people, some are sexual deviants, some campaign for better rights and some are quietly celibate. But when you describe them as one blob, it does rather seem like you are making them collectively into a bogeyman.

        Of course I believe there is spiritual warfare going on, but I believe the enemy is satan and his evil powers, not other people. I also know that Christ has the victory and we don’t have to live our lives in fear of him losing.

        I hope you are aware that Christians who support gay marriage are also listening to the spirit and to scripture. We are not out to try and destroy the church! We agree with gay marriage because we believe Jesus agrees with gay marriage, not because we are adopting worldly values. Maybe you will find me saying that upsetting, but it is the truth. If you are right about gay marriage, then I don’t think it is accurate to call the approval of gay marriage heresy. Heresy is usually a wrong understanding of who Jesus is or the original meaning of the word was someone who kept others out of the church, e.g. The Jews who didn’t think Gentiles could be Christian. Personally I feel that Jesus is obviously OK with gay marriage, but I’m sure you feel the same about your views.

        Although Im in favour of gay marriage, I don’t think it is that important for the church to be. Partially this is because gay people can legally get married, regardless of what the church thinks, but mainly it is because there is so much abuse and fear of gay people in the church. Church teaching says that gay people should be treated equally with straight people, but it seems to me that most gay Christians have a story of rejection or abuse to tell. There is an organisation called Diverse Church who support young LGBT Christians, especially those who feel it is not safe to be out at church. Isn’t that a huge indictment against current church culture?! There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of young gay people in this position. There is endless ranting against the evils of gay marriage, but no consideration for the hurt at home. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.

        I think that you are getting a lot of your understanding about this from certain right wing websites. Many of these are written by people who think being gay is a choice and they are frightened of a recruitment drive in schools (or some such ignorant rubbish). We have to get our understanding from somewhere, but please be aware of their bias e.g. *both* Irish referendum campaigns were accused of receiving money from the U.S, (I doubt it affected the result because it was consistent with the level of support in other Western democracies.) the reason some countries are diverting aid from poorer countries like Uganda is because their government are sponsoring the murder of gay people. I’m sure you disagree that gay people should be killed because of their sexuality? I’m not sure this is an effective or just way of trying to change policy, but the UN have a declaration of human rights which they simply have to defend somehow.

        Tinker wasn’t misquoted. He said that homosexuality was in the same category as paedophilia and serial adultery and that adulterers, homosexuals and paedophiles should not be welcome in the church. He has had plenty of time to qualify these words and hasnt, and has quite rightly received a reprimand from his bishop. I’m glad you do not agree with him! It is worrying that he has pastoral responsibilities for everyone in the parish, which will undoubtedly include gay people and adulterers and maybe even paedophiles.

        I’m glad also that you agree with Stonewall helping CofE schools with their bullying problems. Stonewall are not this big evil blob out to get your children, they are a charity whose primary aim is social justice and protection from harm for LGBT people. I think you actually agree with most of what they campaign for and their current chief exec is a Roman Catholic. Hardly the forces of darkness!

        I’m sorry I know I asked a lot of questions last time, but I would particularly like to know what you think Gods motivation for creating marriage was. I think this is key in our understanding of what marriage is and may help stop us worshipping the creation (marriage) rather than the creator (God).

        I’m no fan of this government, but to be fair, I don’t think the reason they are not getting involved in the warfare in the Middle East and North Africa is because they think it is not PC. It is not just North Africa of course there are still lots of problems throughout the continent. It is worth understanding that every regime that executes Christians also executes gay people.

        Honestly I do not know what I would say if someone held a sword to my neck. I would like to think that I would cry “Jesus is Lord” (Happy if with my latest breath, etc.) But I think none of us would know until we were put in that situation. Indeed my namesake went through this exact situation. Fortunately the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. His reaction to Peters betrayal was to place him in charge of the church! I know God likes to use the weak to demonstrate his power, but I wonder if it is also because those of us who stuff up are more likely to have compassion on others. I’m not sure what relevance the gun death scenario has to gay marriage?

        Lastly I’m sorry, but I really take issue with you saying that we live in a similar culture as the Roman Empire! My goodness me, they had more in common with Islamic State than they have with modern UK!!! The Roman Empire was a brutal autocratic regime. The cross was invented as a means of giving the most agonising death possible, to enforce conformity. You could only be guaranteed proper justice if you were a Roman citizen. Most of the emperors came to power by murdering their rivals. The empire was fuelled by slavery. They invaded countries and executed anyone who stood up to them. That is why it is incredible that Jesus tells us that if someone commands us to walk one mile, walk two. He is actually talking about helping out a Roman soldier. An instrument of oppression…or a person in his own right? The gospel is radically different to the worlds standards. It is certainly not about loving your friends, hating your enemies,

        I see your Merkel and raise you an Obama.

        • Tricia July 10, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

          Hi Pete j
          There is a big difference between saying gay people are evil and that I consider the LGBT movement to be evil. Spiritual forces work through people, people whose minds have been darkened by rebellion. As St Paul says God hands them over to the devices and desires of their hearts. Many same sex orientated people are not in favour of same sex marriage and voted as such in Ireland and said so when our Parliament voted.
          The problem with destroying the moral fabric of the western world will become evident. In fact it is already beginning. The German government has just published 2 booklets one concerning 1-3 year old and the other 3-6 year olds. These booklets recommend that fathers should sexually pleasure their children. This is incest and paedophilia. And is precisely the sort of recommendations in the Kinsey work of the 1960s that I mentioned earlier.
          I do not support Stonewall and I will fight any attempt at my grandson’so school to confuse him with sexual ideology. As I stated I am against any bullying and you are far more likely to be bullied at primary school for looking different than for any sexual reason.
          I can see no reason for you to be so sure that Jesus approves of gay marriage. He was a Rabbi and the OT calls homosexuality an abomination. The food laws were removed when Peter had the vision of animals and was told to eat. The sexual laws were not. None of the abrahamic faiths approve of homosexuality. However Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, so that we may be cleansed from our sin. So we can be set free – this means turning from your sin and turning to Christ. Those who are cleansed do not return to the same life they have been cleansed from.
          My definition of marriage conforms to Jesus’. Read Matthew 19 where he says “have you not heard that God made them male and female and for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and take a wife and the two will become one flesh.”
          A same sex couple cannot become one flesh ie consummate the marriage. By law if a marriage is not consummated it is void neither can they commit adultery. This is marriage only because Governments have decided to include a group of people who are not eligible. The church can never accept this.
          I feel you have a very good heart and feel that you are fighting for a good cause but are misled. Jesus said: if your father or mother is more important to you than me, then you are not worthy of me. This could also be a challenge to the homosexual lobby- If your sex life is more important to you than me, then you are not worthy of me.

          • David Shepherd July 15, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

            James,

            Rather than taking precedence, the legal processes that accompany ‘adoptions, sperm donation, and the general power of family courts to deny parental rights’ are subsidiary to biological parenthood, i.e. where the latter has been relinquished, vacated or forfeited by death or neglect.

            The weakness of that argument about legal precedence makes your subsequent question a non-sequitur.

            That said, strength in debate is not developed by avoiding the logical processing of opposing arguments.

            So, your questions might be framed in this way: ‘Let’s say we dropped the notion of a conclusive presumption of parenthood as objectionable. Why couldn’t a rebuttable presumption of parenthood be applied as part of marriage equality to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples?’

            There is a need to make sense of what a legal presumption does. Presumptions are public policy devices that avoid the high social cost of concluding otherwise, but there a limitations on how far a *prima facie* precept, like the presumption of parenthood, can be extended.

            Now that’s a matter of settled legal doctrine and not prejudices. In the recognised authoritative legal text on evidence, Preliminary Treatise on Evidence at the Common Law, the celebrated American legal writer and educator, James Thayer, wrote this on what constitutes a valid presumption:

            p. 346 LAW OF EVIDENCE.

            VIII. It is one of the commonest of errors to misapprehend the scope and limitations of the ordinary rules and maxims of presumption; and to attribute to them a mistaken quality and force. They are, as we have seen, merely prima facie precepts; and they presuppose only certain specific and expressed facts.’

            ‘A conspicuous illustration of the error now in question may be seen in an observation of Lord Campbell, in a case in the House of Lords in 1849. In a discussion on legitimacy, Lord Campbell remarked: “So strong is the legal presumption of legitimacy that if a white woman have a mulatto [sic] child, although the husband is white and the supposed paramour black, the child is presumed legitimate, if there were any opportunities for intercourse.”

            Now there might, without absurdity, be a doctrine which fixed upon a husband, even under such circumstances, the legal responsibilities of a father.’

            But . . . Lord Campbell had introduced into his supposition such unusual facts as dissolved and evaporated any rule of presumption.”

            So, there might indeed be another doctrine that could fix legal parenthood upon a same-sex spouse who is not naturally related to the child, but that’s not part of the estate of marriage. And from what you’ve explained, all that is wanted or expected by SSM supporters is equal marriage and not a special dispensation to accommodate same-sex couples.

            The issue with assigning any kind of presumption of parenthood through marriage to same-sex couples is that, as Thayer described, it introduces into supposition of such unusual facts as dissolve and evaporate any rule of presumption.

            So, any application of this key effect of marriage to same-sex couples is a prima facie falsehood. Now, you might well compare childless straight couples, but prima facie their infertility is not an impediment to marriage. It would require an intrusion upon privacy to make it one.

          • Rich July 16, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

            Tricia,

            I also saw the some news reports about the German booklets . Thankfully these reports seem to be completely erroneous. The same article is recycled on many web sites, most of which seem to want to be saying that the whole of Europe are paedophiles.

            The actual information no longer seems to be available online, but it all appears to be a mistranslation of something taken wildly out of context.

        • Tricia July 11, 2015 at 10:09 am #

          PS
          Rev Tinker was quoting from the bible as I mentioned before – it is from 1 Cor 6:9
          Read this to the end and it says:
          But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
          Follow on reading the next section on sexual immorality. This says that we should flee from sexual immorality. You are not your own you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.
          This does not mean that same sex attracted people cannot come to church, it means that it is imperative that they recognise their sins.

          • Pete J July 11, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

            Sorry, but I still don’t understand what you mean by the “LGBT movement”. Do you mean campaigns for equal rights? If so I think it would be clearer to call it the “LGBT rights movement”. I realise Im being picky over terms but you describe (presumably) people who campaigned for gay marriage as “the homosexual lobby”, but that description could mean anything. And I think you are actually in favour of most gay rights, just not the ones involving sex.

            Sorry, do you HONESTLY believe the German government is encouraging fathers to sexually abuse their children?! hahahaha!!! This is exactly what I was trying to say about being careful where you get your news from.

            I’m sorry but I don’t agree with your narrative of the moral fabric breaking down. My great uncle died at a ripe old age a few months ago. He wasn’t bright in school and so he used to regularly get beaten for getting his spellings wrong…is that the sort of moral fabric you want to return to? Where little kids get hit with a stick by an adult for having learning difficulties? The truth is there never was a moral golden age and our society is probably better at treating each other well than it ever was. If anything, now we are more aware of child sex abuse, so I would say that possibly sexual morality has improved in my lifetime. When I was a kid a man was able to grope any woman at work he liked. I’m glad we behave better now.

            The OT does in no way call homosexuality an abomination – where?! It occasionally mentions gay sex. The few times it mentions gay sex are in the context of heterosexuals using it to dominate and humiliate others e.g. the Sodomites attempting to rape the angels (we know they are heterosexual because Lot offers his daughters) or when Noah’s son “saw his nakedness”. It is never in the context of people who are actually gay or in the context of loving relationship. Where there is love between two men (David and Jonathan (Im not saying they were gay!)), it seems to be approved of.

            But of course Jesus is our King, not Moses. Jesus had a very different interpretation of the law than the religious leaders at the time (he called them a “nest of vipers” for placing a heavy load on the weak) and even some of his own disciples (the first church split was whether or not Gentiles were allowed to be believers). As followers of Jesus Im sure you agree we need to try to make sure we are following his interpretation of the law. However, where I disagree with you is that I fail to see how banning a group of people from marriage is consistent with either “love God” or “love your neighbour”.

            Are you suggesting that gay people need to repent of their orientation or simply that gay people need to repent of having sex? If it is the former that is problematic because it is impossible for man and God seems unwilling. If it is the latter then of course I believe in the forgiveness of sin, but I don’t think loving monogamy is a sin. A big problem I have with churches that promote celibacy for gay people is that they do not put their money where there mouth is? I.e. I’m not aware of any church that provides support for gay celibates. Pretty much every church has named ministries for heterosexual families.

            Gay couples are perfectly able to consummate their marriages(!) Regardless, I’m sure there are examples of straight marriages (perhaps where one partner is disabled or dying) where the couple have not had sex. We wouldn’t claim they were not married. We might allow lack of consummation as grounds for annulment, but that’s a bit different! I’m sure you are aware more than me that marriage is not just about sex. Are you against gay marriage because of the sex or because of the lack of it? Do you think allowing gay people to get married will reduce or increase promiscuity?

            Thank you for the bible reference. I had thought that Tinker might have been referring to this, but Ive now heard the actual clip and I feel very differently about it. First, and most shocking to me, he clearly says that gay people should not be welcome to attend church. He doesn’t seem to be aware, but this, and not the actions of York Minster, is against the teaching of the CofE. He makes a category of moral sin in which he includes gay people, serial adulterers and paedophiles. He suggests that gay sex should be illegal. He seems to have no understanding that pride is about gay rights, he seems to me to think that blessing it is the same as blessing gay sex.

            It is interesting that Reform (the hyper conservative grouping within the CofE which Tinker seems to be a part of) have released a statement about his remarks. It is carefully worded to affirm bits of what he said and bits of what Sentamu said in response. I suspect they are conflicted over how gay people should actually be treated by church. This is the real issue in church and we need to have a discussion about it (and maybe ditch squabbles over gay marriage). Married gay people are already going to church…are they welcome or not? I think partly the answer to this lies in whether we want to be a broad church for everyone in England or if we want to be a disestablished church with a thin doctrine.

            Forgive me, but you still haven’t answered my question. If it is OK – what you thought motivated God to create marriage?

            Can I also ask re:your grandson have you actually found out what they are going to teach him? You may find you actually agree with it. Truth sets you free ????.

          • Pete J July 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

            Sorry for my grammatical mistakes. The string of question marks at the end was actually meant to be a smiley not an aggressive typing instance!

          • James Byron July 15, 2015 at 6:14 am #

            David, the Gishing crack is as evergreen as your … comprehensive replies. It’s under no illusion of being Wildean wit; merely a good humored request to keep things on-point.

            Which is what I’ve done in narrowing down the counter-examples to adultery. Since you accept that the presumption of paternity applies to children conceived on the side, you accept that the issue you raised — of the presumption coming between children and their natural parents — can affect opposite-sex marriage just as much as same-sex marriage.

            The enthusiasm of various organizations, or my enthusiasm in opposing their efforts, are beside this point. Your objection to equal marriage, repeated here and elsewhere at very great length, has been rebutted, and you’ve accepted the rebuttal. The “legally protected autonomy” of marriage is not absolute, and not threatened by a swift and conclusive DNA test. Even if it was, the threat already hits opposite-sex marriages, and would continue to do so if same-sex marriage were again banned.

            As for identity, I’ll accept, for sake of argument, that it’s malleable, and affects sexual behavior. So what? That doesn’t change the fact that, for many, sexual attraction is fixed, and that people are most comfortable with their sexual identity when it’s affirmed by society, affirmation and protection offered by marriage, benefits that should be open, equally, to all.

          • David Shepherd July 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

            James,

            My response was a good natured request to save your shop-worn humour.

            ‘Even if it was, the threat already hits opposite-sex marriages, and would continue to do so if same-sex marriage were again banned.’

            Of course, the threat of rebutting the father’s paternity affects the family autonomy of opposite sex marriages.

            You clearly don’t understand that the reason for a SSM supporters arguing for a conclusive presumption is that a rebuttable presumption might affect a minority of straight couples, but becomes totally meaningless to every lesbian couple, if either spouse, or the biological father could disestablish the non-biological mother’s parentage on the basis of the lack of genetic connection between a woman’s female spouse/partner and her child.

            You can continue argue from your theoretical reference point, or engage with the legal reality that most jurisdictions that have supported same-sex marriage have sought to address.

            Perhaps, both sides truly misunderstood the purpose of marriage until your ‘bright spark’ insights came along…Nah, I don’t think so!

            In terms of identity, I’m sure most people would be most comfortable for society to affirm every single one of their ingrained predispositions. They just don’t commandeer public policy and a selective reading of expert scientific opinion in order to secure it.

          • James Byron July 15, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

            David, parental rights, as opposed to paternity, are decided on a case-by-case basis. The decisions are guided by legal presumptions, sure, but they’re not absolute.

            If you objected on principle to legal parenthood taking precedence over biological parenthood, you’d have to object to adoptions, sperm donation, and the general power of family courts to deny parental rights. That ship has long sailed.

            So why, exactly, shouldn’t same-sex couples be allowed to do what opposite-sex couples can do? Do you have any objection other than the gender of the couple? If so, what? If not, what rational basis do you have for discriminating on that basis?

          • David Shepherd July 15, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

            James,

            Rather than taking precedence, the legal processes that accompany ‘adoptions, sperm donation, and the general power of family courts to deny parental rights’ are subsidiary to biological parenthood, i.e. where the latter has been relinquished, vacated or forfeited by death or neglect.

            The weakness of that argument about legal precedence makes your subsequent question a non-sequitur.

            That said, strength in debate is not developed by avoiding the logical processing of opposing arguments.

            So, your questions might be framed in this way: ‘Let’s say we dropped the notion of a conclusive presumption of parenthood as objectionable. Why couldn’t a rebuttable presumption of parenthood be applied as part of marriage equality to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples?’

            There is a need to make sense of what a legal presumption does. Presumptions are public policy devices that avoid the high social cost of concluding otherwise, but there a limitations on how far a *prima facie* precept, like the presumption of parenthood, can be extended.

            Now that’s a matter of settled legal doctrine and not prejudices. In the recognised authoritative legal text on evidence, Preliminary Treatise on Evidence at the Common Law, the celebrated American legal writer and educator, James Thayer, wrote this on what constitutes a valid presumption:

            p. 346 LAW OF EVIDENCE.

            VIII. It is one of the commonest of errors to misapprehend the scope and limitations of the ordinary rules and maxims of presumption; and to attribute to them a mistaken quality and force. They are, as we have seen, merely prima facie precepts; and they presuppose only certain specific and expressed facts.’

            ‘A conspicuous illustration of the error now in question may be seen in an observation of Lord Campbell, in a case in the House of Lords in 1849. In a discussion on legitimacy, Lord Campbell remarked: “So strong is the legal presumption of legitimacy that if a white woman have a mulatto [sic] child, although the husband is white and the supposed paramour black, the child is presumed legitimate, if there were any opportunities for intercourse.”

            Now there might, without absurdity, be a doctrine which fixed upon a husband, even under such circumstances, the legal responsibilities of a father.’

            But . . . Lord Campbell had introduced into his supposition such unusual facts as dissolved and evaporated any rule of presumption.”

            So, there might indeed be another doctrine that could fix legal parenthood upon a same-sex spouse who is not naturally related to the child, but that’s not part of the estate of marriage. And from what you’ve explained, all that is wanted or expected by SSM supporters is equal marriage and not a special dispensation to accommodate same-sex couples.

            The issue with assigning any kind of presumption of parenthood through marriage to same-sex couples is that, as Thayer described, it introduces into supposition such unusual facts as dissolve and evaporate any rule of presumption.

            So, any application of this key effect of marriage to same-sex couples is a prima facie false supposition. Now, you might well compare childless straight couples, but prima facie their infertility is not an impediment to marriage. It would require an intrusion on privacy to make it one.

          • James Byron July 16, 2015 at 12:30 am #

            David, you’re blurring two distinct issues: the process for discovering paternity; and parental rights.

            For the obvious biological reasons, a presumption of paternity is a non-starter for same-sex spouses. Granted. Since paternity can now be discovered conclusively via a simple DNA test, this isn’t a big deal. The ILGA have no problem with a child knowing the identity of their biological parents: from p.13 of the report you cited earlier: “Article 6, Children’s Right to know their Origins Subject to their best interests, children shall have the right to obtain information about their biological and genetic origins.”

            Separate to that question of fact are parental rights.

            As you accept, these can be “relinquished, vacated or forfeited by death or neglect.” If a same-sex couple adopts, or has a child via surrogacy or artificial insemination, they’re in the same situation as an opposite-sex couple. The issue of parental rights only arises if a child is conceived without the father or surrogate relinquishing their claim. In that case, the biological parent potentially has standing to sue for parental rights, just as they would with an opposite-sex couple.

            That being so, where, then, is the rational basis for using these two issues to deny same-sex couples access to marriage?

          • David Shepherd July 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

            James,

            I’m under no illusion regarding the difference between the process of discovering paternity and parental rights.

            In terms of ILGA Article 6, you’re smart enough to distinguish the ‘right to obtain *information* about their biological and genetic origins’ (qualified by ‘best interests’) from ‘the right to know the identity of biological parents’. And that still doesn’t add up to the ILGA prioritising the legal recognition of the biological parent.

            Now, to the meat of your argument.

            I have nowhere suggested that the presumption of paternity affects adoption, or donor/surrogacy. Therefore, we agree that: ‘if a same-sex couple adopts, or has a child via surrogacy or artificial insemination, they’re in the same situation as an opposite-sex couple’.

            However, you go on to say: ‘if a child is conceived without the father or surrogate relinquishing their claim. In that case, the biological parent potentially has standing to sue for parental rights, just as they would with an opposite-sex couple.’

            So, let’s be clear, in the case of same-sex marriage, you’re saying that the onus would be on the child’s known biological parent to seek legal means to overcome a *prima facie* false supposition. In contrast, for straight marriages, the joint parenthood of children born into the marriage is a legal presumption and not a *prima facie* false supposition.

            Regardless of how easily DNA tests can be carried out to prove otherwise, why should the child’s known and willing biological parent bear the onus of overcoming what is ‘at first appearance’ a false supposition?

            So, for these cases, granting default joint parenthood to same-sex couples is an abuse of the marital presumption. Regardless of the potential remedy for biological parenthood, applying all of the legal effects of marriage to same-sex couples (which is equal marriage) would authorise a prima facie falsehood. As explained previously, this is not the case for straight couples discovering infertility.

            The rationale for rejecting same-sex marriage is that, despite the biological parent having a potential legal remedy, it imposes an unjust onus on that person to overcome a blatant *prima facie* falsehood: the primary joint parenthood through marriage of a same-sex couple.

          • James Byron July 16, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

            Given that presuming biological parenthood in a same-sex marriage would be absurd, the natural reading of the ILGA’s Article 12 is “recognized as having parental rights.” And even if they don’t include “identity” within “information,” (not at all certain) courts are moving in that direction (info long denied to adopted children, BTW, another ship that’s long sailed).

            In an opposite-sex marriage, as you agree, there’s many cases in which the presumption of paternity doesn’t apply. You have no objection to those situations existing. It can either be abolished altogether, or limited to opposite-sex couples. Since same-sex couples can’t, as yet, get one another pregnant, this is a rational basis on which to differentiate, and doesn’t stop the marriage being equal in all other respects, anymore than not referring to the gay couple as “husband and wife” does.

            This isn’t the barrier you claim, David. In every jurisdiction that’s legalized equal marriage, it’s a non-issue, that can easily be gotten around with legislative tweaks and court rulings. It’s a barrier only if we want it to be.

          • David Shepherd July 16, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

            James,

            The ILGA’s use of the phrase ‘regardless of genetic connection’ is clear.

            You assert that ‘In an opposite-sex marriage, as you agree, there’s many cases in which the presumption of paternity doesn’t apply..’

            On the contrary, I referred specifically to cases where biological parenthood was relinquished, or forfeited by death or donor/surrogate consent.

            That is not the case for a willing biological parent, who has not relinquished parenthood to the couple.

            You’ve simply dropped the qualification of consent that makes adoption, sperm donation and surrogacy subsidiary to biological parenthood and suggested that it points to the potential inapplicability of the presumption, without the qualification of consent.

            The consent or forfeiture by death of the biological parent would render the presumption of paternity uncontested.

            The absence of legal contest of the presumption is not proof that it is inapplicable. The presumption still stands.

            You have yet to justify a prima facie falsehood masquerading as a presumption of parenthood and placing an unfair onus on a child’s biological parent. I can only hope you don’t again resort to this kind of casuistry.

          • James Byron July 16, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

            You misunderstand my position, David: parental rights should only be relinquished with the natural parent’s consent. Absent that consent, a same-sex marriage no more voids the parental rights of a third party than would, say, an opposite-sex marriage following a divorce.

            I am not defending the “falsehood” of presuming the biologically impossible because, as I said clearly, I don’t believe a presumption of paternity should apply to same-sex couples. I also believe that equal marriage doesn’t hinge on dogmaticly mirroring every aspect of opposite-sex marriage.

          • David Shepherd July 17, 2015 at 1:01 am #

            James,

            You assert that: ‘Absent that consent, a same-sex marriage no more voids the parental rights of a third party than would, say, an opposite-sex marriage following a divorce.’
            However, any children born into an opposite-sex marriage before its dissolution would be legally presumed children of the marriage. The presumption doesn’t apply post-divorce.

            I took issue not with the presumption voiding the biological parent’s rights, but with the unjust onus that its misuse placed on the biological parent to overcome a prima facie falsehood masquerading as presumption. The fact that parental rights might not be voided doesn’t eliminate that unfair burden of proof.

            And anyway, the institution is marriage. If it is truly gender-neutral, there should be no variant to the effects that it delivers based on sexual orientation. So, I would question why you would want to pick and choose the bits of marriage that should be mirrored when all it adds up to something other than marriage as it has been constituted.

            In the end, neither opponents, nor supporters of SSM will accept your ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ version of marriage. I mean, as a possible alternative, you’ve even entertained the abolition of the marital presumption altogether.

            It’s not dogmatic mirroring for what you describe as equal marriage to deliver equally this key benefit of the institution as public policy: that is to establish couples as co-founders of intact families. The question is whether this policy should be pursued at the expense of natural parenthood.

            Your version of equal marriage simply doesn’t deliver these essential effects of marriage policy to same-sex couples.

            Yet, the statutes and jurisprudence of your own country, and of Canada, Australia and the Netherlands do apply a patently false presumption to same-sex couples, but by shifting the burden of proof onto biological parents. They blindly insist on sustaining a gender-neutral presumption of parenthood, for same-sex spouses to be able to preserve intact unitary families procured by any means that they choose.

            As a result of this, a conclusive presumption is being adopted that plunders the rights of biological parents, despite the prima facie falsehood that is being perpetrated.

            I guess that we now understand each other better, but perhaps we should call time on this debate before Ian has to.

          • James Byron July 17, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

            I agree we should probably call time on this, David; I’ll clarify some final points, and then, if you’d like, let you wrap. 🙂

            You’ve given no evidence that any jurisdiction is presuming paternity in cases where it’s a biological impossibility. You’ve either failed to give specifics, such as you assertions about it being “a done deal” in several countries and your reference to the Uniform Parentage Act as a whole (an advisory code written in 2002, before any state had equal marriage, and in which I can find no examples of biologically impossible presumptions), or, in the case of the ILGA, a text that can (and IMO should) be read to mean “parental rights” absent a genetic link.

            This “issue” may well be of no practical concern.

            As for equality requiring a false presumption of paternity, as with my husband and wife example, “equal” doesn’t mean identical. In their equal marriage law, England and Wales didn’t extend provisions on adultery and consummation to same-sex couples; there’s far more justification for not extending a presumption that’s physically impossible. Same-sex couples remain part of the same institution, enjoying the same benefits and social affirmation. Most people, thankfully, aren’t concerned with this.

          • David Shepherd July 18, 2015 at 8:52 pm #

            Thanks James,

            Here are the two UPA (1973) references:
            Section 4: Presumption of Paternity
            (a) A man is presumed to be the natural father of a child if:

            (1) he and the child’s natural mother are or have been married to each other and the child is born during the marriage, or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce, or after a decree of separation is entered by a court;

            Section 21: Action to Declare Mother and Child Relationship
            ‘Any interested party may bring an action to determine the existence or nonexistence of a mother and child relationship. *Insofar as practicable, the provisions of this Act applicable to the father and child relationship apply.*

            The requirement for a gender-neutral application of the presumption was applied to Elisa B. v. Superior Court, (Cal. 2005) and Charisma R. v. Kristina S. (2006)

            ‘In May 2004, Charisma filed a petition to establish a parental relationship with Amalia. The trial court denied the petition, concluding that Charisma lacked standing to bring the action under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) (§ 7600 et seq.). (Charisma R. v. Kristina S. (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th 301, 303 (Charisma I).) Charisma appealed, and this court reversed in June 2006, concluding that Charisma had standing to establish parentage under the UPA despite the fact that she lacked a biological relationship to Amalia.’

            James’ argument is akin to asserting that, once inclusively defined as ‘wheeled road transport’, what we commonly call a bicycle is actually a type of car.

            One can imagine the parry and thrust of debate:
            ‘Come on, bicycles have handlebars, but cars have steering wheels.’
            ‘I think you’ll find that there are quite a few disabled cars with handlebars, so on what rational basis are you discriminating between them?’

            ‘Okay, how about the fact that bicycles only have two wheels?’
            ‘Since when did the number of wheels determine whether a vehicle is a car? How many wheels does a Robin Reliant have?’
            ‘Three?’
            ‘So, the number of wheels is a superficial distinction. The word car can be inclusive of two-wheeled vehicles. It’s not stopping your four-wheeled vehicle from also being a car, is it?’

            ‘And what about the method of propulsion? Bicycles don’t have internal combustion engines, whereas cars do?’
            ‘Need I remind you of electric cars. Are there electric versions of what you call a bicycle?’
            Well, yes.’

            ‘I rest my case. This shows that the word, car has evolved over time and been constantly re-defined. And guess what, the sky didn’t fall in? Anyway, to be a car, a two-wheeled vehicle doesn’t have to dogmatically mirror the capabilities of four-wheeled transport. Furthermore, why does what happens under closed car bonnets matter so much to you?’

            ‘It doesn’t, but a two-wheeled vehicle is not a car. If it is, a truck-driver could say the same of his eighteen wheeler!’
            ‘I find it extremely offensive that you would compare my faithful, pedal-powered, sustainable (FPS) vehicle with an immoral gas-guzzling poly-wheeler.’

            ‘Well, I apologise, the comparison was pedalophobic. Although I’d say that, to be ridden, a bicycle needs a saddle’
            ‘And so does a horse. Your point is?’

            James’ debating strategy was largely a semantic one which was not anchored in what is known and agreed of the essential purpose of marriage as public policy: establishing couples as co-founders of intact families. Even same-sex marriage supporters and SCOTUS agree on the effects of marriage that James disputes.

            Nevertheless, if we avoid dogmatic mirroring, what you and I call a bicycle is actually a two-wheeled car!

        • Tricia July 11, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

          Hi Pete
          When I refer to the LGBT movement and I am speaking about the massively funded juggernaut that pushes governments and silences dissent by use of ridicule and harassment. Even the director of Education commented that it was time they learned to allow people space for thought and speech and stopped the vitriolic language. The western governments now are pushing the LGBT agenda around the world but other countries have realised and have regrouped to fight back. See Clive’s post on 8 July about the vote in the UN. Our government now votes against the family. Citizengo is a website I frequently vote on which you may be interested in.
          Morality is an issue for each individual country and cannot and should not be imposed from western liberal governments. This will only exacerbate the Muslim situation in the west.
          I certainly was not joking over the incest issue in Germany. They have just voted to legalise incest by the way. The booklet I was referring to is called “Love, body and playing doctor”. I read this recently on the Alexander Boot blog. He is an intelligent philosophical man who writes well. The piece is called “German govt says incest is best”. I then looked this up and found a posting by Christian telegraph from a few years ago and comment from a catholic psychiatrist and others.
          When I referred to the OT and used the word abomination it came from Leviticus “20:13 if a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination” ESV some versions use the word detestable.
          I don’t think there ever has been a moral golden age as we are all sinners and perfection will be in the next life. However over the past 40 years, divorce rates have soared, many people decided that marriage was just a piece of paper they did not want or need, violent fils proliferated, pornograohy has grown to epic proportions, young peolple have been told that they are free to discover their sexuality without bounds, the hook up culture has emerged. The sad thing is this freedom is a trap. We have a proliferation of STIs, fertility is affected and the art of dating has died. Loneliness is endemic and relationships without firm foundations don’t last. Children with no fathers are ending up in prison – and women are having children with no support unit. I would like to see the church speak afresh to the younger generation about the values of keeping sex special, of a love that grows with time, of a self giving love that puts the other person first and taking a marriage vow seriously. If previous generations could manage it I don’t see why this and future generations cannot. There lives and the lives of their children would be transformed.
          I believe there is a group in the church called “Living Out” which Is Specifically for those leaving the gay life. I totally agree that the church needs to minister to those who are hurting.
          The church doctrine is clear. It is the sexual act in homosexuality which is the sin. People may need to explore faith and space needs to be available to do this for any individual – so all are welcome in the church. However, homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle for a Christian and there will need to be change. That may take time, to accept Jesus as Lord of your life is a big issue. Any leader in the church needs to conform their life to biblical teaching and canon law. The bible says those who shepherd the sheep will be judged more stringently.
          You said a same sex couple can consummate their marriage. This is not the case as the Marriage Act 2014 clearly states that a same sex couple cannot consummate but are married and a heterosexual couple must consummate or they are not married. It also makes clear that a same sex couple cannot be accused of adultery.
          Why did God create marriage question. Big question! I don’t have a definitive answer but I’ll try! In Genesis it says that “God created woman because it was not good for man to be alone”. So God decides that man needs a partner in life. Also if the human race is to survive it will need to procreate. The same principal in procreation as animals – male and female is required to form another of the species. But mankind is more complex as God has breathed His life into him. He can speak, reason, he has higher intelligence. The offspring of man needs more time to develop to adulthood than animals. The bond between the 2 needs to be long term for the well being of the off spring and form safe family groupings. Marriage or whatever it was called predates Judaism or Christianity. Sometimes it was one man with several wives. The bible shows that multiple wives were not allowed in Judaism in Jesus’ time, but they got around that by frequently divorcing. In Matt 19 Jesus institutes Christian marriage and refers directly to Genesis. No society has ever married 2 people of the same sex. It is not procreative Union. And why would you only have 2 people if procreation isn’t involved. If love is all that matters the more the merrier. Christian marriage specifies one male and one female.

          • Pete J July 12, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

            Tricia I really don’t know what you mean by the LGBT movement. Is it some sinister organisation or is just anyone who campaigns for gay rights? At one point you say it is people who influence government and then you say it is western governments themselves? I would really like to know what exactly it is that you think is evil here… If it is campaigns for certain rights, which rights?! Western governments are putting pressure on certain countries not to execute people for being gay … Do you agree with that or not?!

            On lots of occasions anti gay Christians have used the f word against me and said all sorts of incredibly offensive things, sometimes deliberately to hurt me. The anti marriage campaign do not get to have a monopoly on being offended. Rejection of gay people is an issue that kills friends, relatives and the vulnerable, so passions run high.

            I have never understood how being in favour of gay marriage is somehow being against the family? Pretty much all gay people are related to, or friends with, “traditional” families and are a help to them. I wonder if this again originated as someone’s base fear of harm coming to their children. It seems unfounded to me.

            Ive found out about the Germany encouraging sexual abuse stuff. It came from a booklet encouraging parents not to be scared about children’s genitalia (ie that washing them/touching them did NOT make them paedophiles) and has been mistranslated into English (May to cause fear and outrage?) The booklet was withdrawn in 2007 (!) because of the controversy.

            Ive also found out that the German ethics council has recommended to the German government to decriminalise incest because of rare cases where siblings have been separated at birth and then become partners in later life and then sent to jail for it. The German government has firmly decided not to decriminalise incest so you don’t need to worry about this.

            Can I ask if you think the UK should be interested in the morality of other nations or not? Either we should allow Uganda to execute who they want and Germany to legalise incest or we should be trying to be a positive influence both countries.

            That Boot guy seems to be a writer for the daily mail…not known for their accurate reporting of the news! If it is on his blog it tends to suggest that it was too suspect to get into print.

            As I said before I just don’t think the facts support your narrative of moral decline. Some things have got worse; some (maybe most) have got better. Have you got any proof that children are being encouraged to experiment sexually and who is doing the encouragement? Personally I’ll take hookups over domestic abuse and sexual abuse of children any day.

            Living out are a teaching ministry not a pastoral ministry. I find some of their teaching questionable (e.g. Encouraging young people into mixed orientation marriages) In any case a small centralised ministry is not going to be able to give much support to the whole country. Are they going to be there when you need someone to take you to hospital or to give you a hug after a bad day at the office?!

            I think it is problematic to base a controversial church teaching on a couple of verses out of leviticus. There are lots of reasons for this and indeed whole books have been written on it. Briefly I think we at least need to consider who we think this law was written to, why and does our interpretation match up with that of Jesus? What do you think this verse says to intersex people?

            What do you mean by “leaving the gay life” and the homosexual “lifestyle”? What does it look like in practise? Homosexuality is an unchangeable orientation, it isn’t a lifestyle, it is just stating th gender you are attracted to. Do you mean that liking musical theatre is a sin or do you mean being promiscuous is a sin? Possibly, *possibly*, you are more likely to be promiscuous if you are gay than if you are straight, but you are also much much more likely to be celibate. It is like parts of the church know they have no evidence for anything more than gay sex being wrong, but they are trying to rationalise their irrational fear of gay people by inventing this “lifestyle” that supposedly all gay people are part of. The truth is gay people’s behaviour is more varied than heterosexuals behaviour (maybe because they are by necessity not caught up in society’s norms).

            I’m sorry I didn’t realise you were talking about (secular) law when talking about consummation. I imagine that Parliament made those changes because not all gay couples will *ahem* consummate in the same way. Ive heard that only a third of gay male couples have anal sex. Ive no idea if that statistic is accurate or not, but I suspect that is the reason for this. I very much doubt if we were drawing up a legal framework for heterosexual marriage today that consummation would be decided necessary. It is a relic of times where having an heir was an important thing. I don’t see why any of this suggests that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

            Thank you for answering my question re marriage motivation. I really think this is a key question in deciding on the issue of gay marriage. I’m glad you agree that it is not good for man to be alone. Do you think it is good for a gay person to be alone? If not do you think he or she should be in a mixed orientation marriage or a gay marriage? Do you think that suitability of partner is more or less important than gender?

            I’m also glad that you have recognised that “what constitutes a marriage” has changed greatly over time. It has also changed quite a bit since the NT was written. One of my favourite chapters in the bible is hebrews 11. It is a list of heroes of the faith. It strikes me that not many of these would be considered respectable enough in their domestic arrangements to be fully part of contemporary Christian communities. We really need to get over ourselves. Man looks at the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart.

            You are factually incorrect to say that no society has ever married two people of the same sex. Something like 20 democracies do worldwide (as well as maybe ten Christian denominations). You could make the same remark about lots of things (inter racial marriage, slavery, racism, capital punishment etc) but to improve our morality, our morality has to change. Now you and I are in disagreement over whether gay marriage is a good thing or not, but change in itself is not necessarily a bad thing.

            Re:Jesus/Genesis can you prove to me that the gender difference mentioned here is prescriptive and not descriptive? If it is prescriptive, why is it OK for women to join their husbands family (as in western society)? Do you think Jesus was telling the Pharisees that they shouldn’t marry other men or that their wives were of equal worth to the father as themselves and should not be discarded as property? Again what does this say to intersex people?

            Re: two people on marriage. You have rightly pointed out that polygamy was an aspect of OT culture and is generally no longer approved of. Maybe this is because women are now less likely to die in childbirth? I think a key aspect of marriage is the willingness to give up your life for your partner. You only have one life to give up so you can only guarantee to do this for one of your partners.

            Re: non procreative unions. Lots of heterosexual couples do not have children and are still married. The church will happily marry couples beyond child bearing age. Lots of gay couples have children or adopt. I think as a species we have quite comprehensibly completed our task to dominate the earth. Lots of people are now saying that our best hope for survival is to have less dominance. In terms of the Church of England it was decided over a hundred years ago that sex and marriage were not exclusively about producing offspring. (Indeed, because of austerity, plenty of couples Im friends with are not having children because they don’t feel they can afford to. Are they sinning by not having children? Are they voiding their marriage?)

            I don’t really know about such things, so I may be talking rubbish, but I think a key difference between allowing incestuous or polygamous marriage and gay marriage is that the potential incestuous or polygamous person is capable of forming non-incestuous monogamous relationships

            I don’t expect to convince you that gay marriage is a good thing, but I hope that you will think about thinking more deeply about which aspects of gay (or human) rights you are actually opposed to, and whether the evil things that you think are happening in the world are actually happening, (or is someone just manipulating you into fear?)

          • David Shepherd July 12, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

            Pete J,

            If you have any doubts regarding the existence of the LGBT movement, perhaps you can address them to the International Lesbian and Gay Association. The organisation remains convinced that they work in support of the LGBTI movement (http://ilga-europe.org/what-we-do/our-work-supporting-movement ), so it may help you to recognise that it’s not a mere figment of our homophobic imagination.

            Currently, there is a legal presumption, through marriage, that the husband is the legal parent of any child born to his wife during the marriage. However, this presumption can be rebutted by contrary genetic evidence. This means that the law upholds the paternity of the natural father, even if he’s not the husband.

            In contrast, the ILGA came up with this as one of its amendments to the Proposed European Convention on Family Status.

            Parental affiliation:
            Article 12 – Spouses and registered partners:
            ‘A person who is the spouse or registered partner of a child’s parent at the time of that child’s birth shall also be considered as a parent, regardless of genetic connection.’

            Through this amendment, the ILGA has sought to make marriage/civil partnership the legal vehicle for ensuring that natural parenthood, when co-opted by same-sex couples, is legally incapable of frustrating the parental aspirations of LGBT couples.

            This amendment summarily undermines and rejects the child’s right to know and be loved by the most fundamental component of its family identity: its willing natural father.

            Gay marriage is simply the legal means of furthering the family intentions of same-sex couples by plundering the child’s right to, not just one, but both of its natural parents.

          • Pete J July 13, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

            David – I was trying to find out what exactly Tricia thought was evil. She wasn’t able to tell me in 7 or 8 posts which suggests to me that it is irrational fear. She clearly wasn’t talking about a single organisation else she would have been able to clarify by pointing it to me.

            I understand that you are maybe frightened that a gay couple are going to rock up and demand your children, but that Im afraid is just fantasy. Gay couples might not have kids, might adopt or might be in a position where one is the biological parent. I’m sure there are cases that we would all be not in favour of (although there have been thousands of gay marriages in this country and I don’t recall thousands of people complaining theyve had their babies stolen which seems to be what you are implying?!) It is important that the parents who raise the children have parental status. Many people do this when adopting.

            Given that 85k children in the UK are going to grow up in care homes with no parents, are you for or against gay couples adopting? Would you be in favour of gay marriage if gay couples were only allowed the options of adoption or no children?

          • David Shepherd July 14, 2015 at 1:49 am #

            Pete J,

            Given that I specifically identified the circumstances under which parental affiliation would operate, your response: ‘I understand that you are maybe frightened that a gay couple are going to rock up and demand your children, but that Im afraid is just fantasy’ sidesteps your earlier erroneous denial of an LGBT movement.

            The fact that a gay couple won’t ‘rock up’ and demand my child completely misses the qualification of my remark.

            I stated: ‘ILGA has sought to make marriage/civil partnership the legal vehicle for ensuring that natural parenthood, *when co-opted by same-sex couples*, is legally incapable of frustrating the parental aspirations of LGBT couples.

            Given that my natural parenthood has never been co-opted by a same-sex couple, your glib street-smart response is nothing more than an unsubstantial straw man argument.

            This straw man approach continues further into your response: ‘there have been thousands of gay marriages in this country and I don’t recall thousands of people complaining theyve had their babies stolen which seems to be what you are implying?!)’

            A justice issue is not validated by its plaintiffs numbering into the thousands. I presume that you don’t believe that discrimination is somehow justified if it can be confined to occasional homophobia.

            In fact, there is ample case law evidence of same-sex couples seeking a court judgment to exclude the natural father of a child who is only biologically related to one of the couple on the grounds that his involvement frustrates the couple’s family intentions.

            Here are some examples:

            Lesbian partner conceives by sperm donation of biological father (her partner’s brother) with an initial agreement to his involvement.

            Lesbian couple used informal assisted reproduction to conceive child with known biological father.

            UK lesbian couple used IVF to conceive two children by a gay couple from Boston. They then fought over custody arrangements.

            What is notable is that each same-sex couple tried to rely on the court to uphold the traditional two-parent orthodoxy that marriage delivers. This was despite the reproductive arrangement being anything but two-parent.

          • James Byron July 14, 2015 at 6:45 am #

            Not only is same-sex marriage separable from determining a child’s natural parents, but this issue can arise equally in opposite-sex marriages: a sperm doner, say; a child concieved during an affair; or (in the other direction) a surrogate mother who refuses to give up the child she carried to term. In all these cases, outside parties can sue for parental rights, and seek to rebut any legal presumption.

            The issue of the presumption of paternity is not insurmountable. David himself accepts as much when he notes that courts can order a DNA test. If this is a pretext for banning equal marriage on other grounds, it should be dropped; if it isn’t, since David himself accepts that it can be overcome, it should likewise be dropped.

          • Pete J July 14, 2015 at 7:29 am #

            David

            I’m not entirely sure what you meant by “co-opted” but surely this is only a worry for people who have parented children with a person in a gay relationship etc i.e. It is pointless to suggest it is an attack on the nuclear family or on people’s children because it is only going to occur in cases where a nuclear family is already not happening.

            By suggesting there weren’t thousands of cases, I wasn’t suggesting that this wasn’t an important issue. I wasn’t suggesting that I don’t agree with you on it. I was just suggesting that it isn’t a reason to ban gay marriages since the vast majoirity of gay marriages have nothing to do with this. If you want to campaign against this sort of thing, then campaign against it, but don’t blame all gay people who want to get married!

          • Pete J July 14, 2015 at 8:03 am #

            David

            Thank you for your examples – these make it even more plain to me that this has nothing to do with gay marriage(!) I think you should be careful what you write about this because when you originally wrote it sounded like gay people were stealing children from biological parents, which is of course not what you meant. What you mean is you are against surrogacy/sperm donation etc. Are you opposed to these things for straight couples too?

            I think it is worth noting that UK law around this is quite tight and came into force about ten years before gay marriage.

          • David Shepherd July 14, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

            This one’s for you, James. You said:

            ‘Not only is same-sex marriage separable from determining a child’s natural parents, but this issue can arise equally in opposite-sex marriages: a sperm doner, say; a child concieved during an affair; or (in the other direction) a surrogate mother who refuses to give up the child she carried to term.

            In all these cases, outside parties can sue for parental rights, and seek to rebut any legal presumption.’

            Both of your examples will involve the signing of consent forms, whereby the donor or surrogate abandons any parental rights. Your comparison with the presumption of paternity is sadly mistaken, since presumptions operate in the absence of explicit agreement.

            Anyway, here was I thinking that you wanted marriage equality and here you are championing just that bit of it that confers LGBT relayikships with societal affirmation.

            I also read Judge Posner’s opinion that you lauded. The judge’s chief arguments are succinctly captured in the following quote:

            ‘The challenged laws discriminate against a minority defined by an immutable characteristic, and the only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction— that same-sex couples and their children don’t need marriage because same-sex couples can’t produce children, intended or unintended—is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously.’

            The learned judge’s subsequent discourse only serves to highlight the stark irony of meting out such a scathing denunciation of what he claimed to be erroneous about the state’s position on marriage. Pity that his own opinion is about as water-tight as a colander.

            Firstly, Posner cites an APA study as evidence of the immutability of sexual orientation.

            He states: ‘And there is little doubt that sexual orientation, the ground of the discrimination, is an immutable (and probably an innate, in the sense of in-born characteristic rather than a choice. Wisely, neither Indiana nor Wisconsin argues otherwise. The American Psychological Association has said that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” APA, “Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality” 2 (2008), http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf

            In response, firstly, I note that the distinction that Posner introduces between an innate and self-chosen characteristic is a false dichotomy. There are many other tenaciously ingrained behavioural characteristics that might suggest that those possessing them have little choice. That does not make those characteristics in-born and therefore immutable.

            Secondly, sexual orientation is not the immutable determinant of sexual behaviour. The APA study on Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation distinguishes sexual orientation identity (SOI) from sexual orientation.

            The former refers to how orientation is permitted to affect the way in which people may define themselves. The APA claims that this factor has a far greater bearing on actual behaviour than the attractions towards which we might be predisposed.

            The APA also provides evidence that SOI exhibits fluidity and specifically explains that some will seek and achieve what they call telic congruence of that identity with their personal and religious values.

            Posner completely misses this fact.

            Thirdly, Posner’s statement also challenges the notion that same-sex couples should be denied marriage because they can’t produce children.

            To drive his point home, Posner highlights that, if infertile heterosexual couples can still benefit from marriage recognition, it can only be homophobic discrimination that prevents the State from granting marriage recognition to same-sex couples, since they are equally incapable of joint procreation:

            Yet, the ‘free-loading’ against which those supporting the marriage tradition argue against isn’t that same-sex couples are unfairly seeking marriage entitlements that should be solely in support of procreative capacity. It’s that, unlike infertile heterosexual couples, representative organisations, like the International Lesbian and Gay Association, are seeking a change in law to ensure that, for any child born to one spouse, the other spouse will be automatically and conclusively recognised through marriage as its co-parent.

            In essence, if a lesbian woman conceives a child during her marriage by any means, the ILGA and many other gay marriage supporters want the law to conclude that her female partner is co-parent regardless of her genetic connection to that child.

            In contrast, childless heterosexual couples are securing parenthood through other means, such as adoption and anonymous gamete donation with written donor consent.

            The end-game is to ensure, regardless of the means of conception, that the co-parenthood of same-sex couples will remain invulnerable to the natural father’s paternity.

            Judge Posner is simply in error for both ignoring the fluidity of sexual orientation identity in respect of sexual behaviour and for treating the parental implications of marriage for LGBT couples as equivalent to those for childless straight couples.

            Next time, think harder.

          • James Byron July 14, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

            David, have you ever turned your hand to debating evolutionary theory? You could out-Gish Gish. 😉

            As I’ve made plain, I simply don’t agree with the ILGA position. It isn’t inseparable from equal marriage, and therefore, isn’t a bar to equal marriage. As for the relevance of comparisons with hetro marriages, presumptions of paternity would ensnare children conceived during an affair, as it’s a weird kinda affair that comes with signed consent forms (perhaps, in a moneyspinner for divorce lawyers everywhere, a new take on the prenup awaits).

            Accepting, arguendo, that sexuality is mutable in some people, given the extreme distress until recently caused by homosexuality, accompanied by failed attempts to change sexual orientation, we can reasonably infer that, for a great many people, and for whatever reason, it’s fixed.

            Even if it weren’t, that would not, in itself, be reason to deny same-sex couples access to marriage. Some rational basis must exist. Posner could find none. A presumption that applies equally to opposite-sex marriages, and that can be easily modified by legislatures or the courts, fails to surmount that hurdle.

          • David Shepherd July 15, 2015 at 1:49 am #

            James,

            Oh, that evergreen Gish Gallop gag…again?

            Come on, James, you’re so much better than trotting out weeks-old wit. Why are you holding back on the fresh material? Or is the ‘cut-up’ cupboard bare? Just like old times, eh? 🙂

            Concerning the affair example (sole survivor of your original four after you threw it a much needed life-line), indeed, the rebuttable presumption of paternity would apply.

            The issue is that while you might disagree with the ILGA and even the Uniform Parentage Act that assigns a gender-neutral conclusive presumption of parenthood, that’s just paying the issue lip service..

            While the ILGA position isn’t inseparable from your selective marriage equivalence, I wouldn’t bet on you writing even half as much in opposing their stated agenda as you write here. Let’s face it, their stance is already a done deal in the Netherlands, USA (UPA 2002), Australia and Canada.

            So, simply continue to turn a blind eye towards the powerful LGBT organisations who are campaigning for both SSM and a conclusive presumption of parenthood that will secure the family intentions of LGBT couples.

            Regarding Posner’s opinion, your inference from ‘failed attempts to change sexual orientation’ does not address sexual orientation identity and its far greater impact on sexual behaviour. What parades as your reasonable inference for a great many people wont’ pass muster when it disagrees with APA on SOI (that’s the same APA which Judge Posner quotes as a source of expert scientific knowledge).

            Your last paragraph attempts to be conclusive. but fails terribly. It doesn’t address why the presumption of paternity has always been part of the estate of marriage. You’ve simply argued that the presumption should remain rebuttable for same-sex couples.

            That ‘solution’ undermines the key purpose of marriage as public policy which is to facilitate the founding of intact families with legally protected autonomy. All your arrangement provides is for all LGBT marriages to be vulnerable to the frustration of their family intentions: the very purpose of marriage is to secure them from outside interference.

            Then, you glibly leave it to case law, full of undue optimism that it will fix the mess.

            As I said, you’re really not after equal marriage. You’re just after the aspect of the institution that will impose a duty on society to dignify that which was once a source of shame.

        • Tricia July 12, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

          Dear Pete j
          I’m sorry that we have no common ground on this. But I suppose we mirror what is happening in the church, which brings me back to my initial post when I said I was not optimistic about the future of the church on this issue.
          My position is that Jesus’ defines marriage in Matthew 19 and as far as I and many other Christians are concerned that is final. I believe that opening up marriage to same sex couples is not in the best interests of children who need a mother and a father. I have no objection to Civil Partnership which gives a legal basis for a same sex couple.
          Canon Gavin Ashenden has just posted an interesting piece saying that he was an LGBT supporter and had spoken at events, but he has changed his mind.
          I wish you well and pray that God will bless you and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth when reading scripture.

          • Clive July 12, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

            Dear Pete J

            Tricia is referring to the German national ethics committee and not the Daily Mail.

            As reported from other sources:
            “Incest could be made legal in Germany following a meeting of the national Ethics Council. They have called for the legalisation of incest after looking into the case of a brother and sister who had four children together.”

            I also note that Tricia is not incorrect at all to say that nobody has legislated for marrying two people of the same sex historically.
            As you wrote:
            “You are factually incorrect to say that no society has ever married two people of the same sex. Something like 20 democracies do worldwide…” but I notice that you have switched to the present tense only and avoid the historical question completely. The democracies to which you refer were judicial action not democratic with the notable exception of Ireland which involved huge sums of money flooding in to the SSM campaign only making it all very biased indeed even if it was the first and only democratic attempt at a vote on the subject.

            Like Tricia I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to the truth.

          • Ian Paul July 13, 2015 at 9:52 am #

            Thanks for the info on this Clive. It has been reported in mainstream media–see here.

            http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/german-ethics-council-calls-for-incest-between-siblings-to-be-legalised-by-government-9753506.html

          • Pete J July 13, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

            Clive – sorry we are at cross purposes. The thing I suggested wasn’t factual enough to get into the daily mail was the guys blog post that he German government are encouraging German parents to sexually abuse their children (obv not true)

            Tricia also brought up that the German government were going to legalise incest when actually it is only an advisory council that have made this reccomendation and the government have said “no”.

            It is of course easy to believe articles that back up your own thinking (in this case the moral decline of the west) which is why we discuss things as brothers and sisters who can help us be less afraid.

            There’s a lot of fear around “gay rights” for some conservative evangelicals. It would be helpful if there was more thinking about which rights in particular you oppose. This will make you less afraid of societal changes and maybe people will be more likely to listen when you have valid arguments.

          • Pete J July 13, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

            Surely “ever” suggests past and present?!

            There has to be a time for every improvement in morality e.g. at some point some country became the first to stop capital punishment which I hope we all think is a good thing. Just arguing that something has never been done in the past (and Im really not convinced that nobody got gay married before the current century) is no argument against it at all. We wouldn’t be able to communicate like this if that were a valid argument in ethics.

          • Pete J July 13, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

            I think I’m right in saying that in all countries that have gay marriage it is not only supported by the democratically elected government, but polling demonstrates it has the support of the people as well. In the UK polls differ, but there is some evidence to suggest it is also supported by a majority of Christians. It is very unusual to have laws set by referrendum. In Ireland equal marriage meant a constitutional change. There was a lot of criticism around this as it is not usually considered a good idea to have laws governing minorities set by the majority.

            As Ive said previously there were allegations on both sides of the Irish campaign of unfair funding from abroad. I seriously doubt the “no” campaign were drowned out, but I don’t live there so I don’t know.

        • Tricia July 14, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

          Pete J
          I note that you consider that I have an irrational fear. I don’t. I do however have a rational aversion to an organisation (explained very kindly by David) and one which I suspect you are heavily involved with.
          This organisation uses bullying, coercion, threats and continually seeks victim hood status. Some of the victimsof this organisation have been:
          Brendan Eich – driven out as CEO of his company for the crime of supporting traditiional marriage
          Ordinary working people entrapped by activists – having to choose between conscience and livelihood
          Consultant urologist in Boston with 30 years experience and an exemplary record being fired for refusing to endorse LGBT and Gay Pride as appropriate for his hospital given the medical conditions arising from the lifestyle
          The hounding of anyone whose scientific findings do not conform to LGBT
          The pressurising of authorities to not treat anyone who requests help to overcome same sex attraction
          AND the most heinous – an organisation that attacks the children from its own community when as adults they wish to speak out about the difficulties faced in their childhood and petition the Supreme Court to ask that same sex marriage should not be passed. Especially the hounding of Prof Robert Lopez in standing for the rights of
          the child .
          Ultimately people will see this organisation for what it is. And if laws are passed they can also be repealed.

  10. Clive July 8, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    Thank you Ian.

    People are NOT just speaking against Scripture, they are speaking against Jesus first and foremost.

    I write this when the UK has just voted against supporting the family at the UN. It is not just the Church under attack. The UK has voted against ideas such as:
    The resolution urges:
    Members of the UN to implement, and promote “family-sensitive policies in the field of housing, work, health, social security and education in order to create an environment supportive of the family . . .”
    To “reinforce the role of grandparents in raising grand children . . . ”
    Smaller nations supported the family but the UK voted against.

    The quote in the text was from Matthew’s gospel.

    Matt. 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

    The words: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” appear in EVERY marriage service and they are Jesus’ words.

    David Ould wrote:
    And there is the bottom line. When those who should know better try and trap Jesus over a marriage-related question He just takes them back to the basics.

    This is what the Scriptures say (specifically Genesis 2).
    This is the way God made us.
    – He made us male and female.
    Marriage flows directly from and is an expression of this complementarity of divinely-created male and female order.
    – Don’t mess with it.
    And it really is that simple. Every question (starting with the direct divorce question He was asked) about marriage can be worked through that framework. The One Question provides the diagnostic to work on all of them.
    That means that Jesus’ One Question allows us to ask a related one:

    In Matthew 19:4-6, how does Jesus define marriage?

    and the answer you receive will clarify everything.

    Some people will avoid mentioning the male/female thing
    – just point that out and mention that Jesus seems to think it’s important.
    Some people will avoid the fact that God made us this way
    – just point that out and mention that Jesus seems to think it’s important.
    Some people will even suggest that it still says nothing about homosexuality.
    – I’d just ask them to read it again after asking your original question again.
    – Afterwards you can ask “how does a same-sex marriage fit into Jesus’ model?”
    Some will suggest that Jesus didn’t know about modern understandings of homosexual relationships.
    – I’d then be asking some serious questions about just who they think Jesus was and is; divine eternal Son of God or not?

    …Just One Question, friends, but it’s the key question. And ultimately it’s Jesus Himself asking it,

    Haven’t you read … ?

    When someone who calls themselves a Christian so quickly rejects Jesus’ words then we have real issues and that’s why this whole internal debate is such a big deal for the church. The real issue here isn’t sex or marriage, it’s all about how to read the Bible properly and how to sit under it. When we’ve lost that, then what else do we have?

    • James Byron July 8, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

      Clive, according to Paul and the Gospels, Jesus was clear that remarriage after a divorce contracted for any reason other than sexual immorality is adultery; and adultery is, according to Paul, every bit as much of a salvation issue as homosexuality. Jesus made no allowance for pastoral dispensation from this exacting standard.

      And yet, evangelical churches routinely allow couples to remarry after no-fault divorce, or divorce for reasons other than sexual immorality. This is wise and humane. Jesus’ teaching, if followed, could produce absurd outcomes, outcomes that illustrate that Jesus could be wrong.

      According to Jesus, if a husband sleeps with his colleague, his wife can get a divorce; but if he murders her children, tries to murder her, then goes on to massacre a dozen bystanders, bad luck, it’s til death do them part.

      So, when it comes to divorce, Jesus’ clear teaching on marriage is set aside; but that being so, clearly, there must be some other reason that doing so wilth homosexuality draws such fury.

      • Tricia July 8, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

        I would ask you James – when did you give your life to Christ and receive the Holy Spirit?
        My reading of the Bible prior to receiving the HS and after are a million miles apart. You need to read the Bible with the eyes of your heart and the interpretation of the HS.

        The HS leads us into all truth. Please get down onyour knees. Repent and ask to be filled with the Spirit. He is the one who leads us into all truth.

        I take your point that the Church has not been teaching sexual ethics correctly and this must stop.

      • Christine Quinn-Jones July 9, 2015 at 5:29 am #

        Hi James,

        If what you wrote above described everything that Jesus said about divorce and murder, many of us would be left with quite a conundrum! Yet Jesus significantly had more to say on both subjects.

        Yes, Jesus said:
        ‘..whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’ (Matt.5:32)
        Yet Jesus has more to say about adultery:
        ‘But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart…’
        How many hidden ‘heart adulterers’ are there in our midst? I don’t know and I find it hard to believe that anyone can know. If a man or woman becomes divorced and thereafter lives a live of celibacy but, despite his or her best intentions, continues to be a ‘heart adulterer/ess’, where does that person stand in relation to God? If you think that a life of celibacy is right for a divorced person ( provided that it includes ongoing repentance for any ‘heart adultery’), would you say that it is also right for LGBT people to live a life of celibacy which includes ongoing repentance for ‘heart lust’, especially as Jesus specifically describes marriage as being between husband and wife and makes no mention of it being between husband and husband or wife and wife?

        On the subject of murder Jesus also focuses on the heart in a way that might leave many of us searching our own hearts:
        ‘You have said to those of old ,” You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgement.” But I say that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgement. And whoever says to his brother , ‘”Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says,”You fool!” shall be in danger of hellfire.’ (Matthew 5:21,22)

        I suppose we need to be able to discern the difference between being ‘angry…without a cause’ and righteous anger, and to know when to take the logs out of our own eyes before attempting to remove the mote from the eye of a brother or sister.

        • Tricia July 9, 2015 at 10:32 am #

          Christine – The differential seems to be the acknowledgement of sin. We are all sinners and continually need to re-align ourselves with God’s will. He also said: deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.
          Are suggesting that we should give up on Jesus’ teaching because it is too hard for us? Should we be like the Episcopalian church in America And make up doctrine as we go along?
          Many people struggle with addictions – pornograohy being a major one in today!s culture. No one has ever died from a lack of a sex life – many have died from the wrong kind if sex life.

          • Christine Quinn-Jones July 10, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

            Hi Tricia, thank you for your reply. I’m not sure if I understand your question, but anyway, no, I’m not suggesting that we should abandon the teaching of Jesus ‘because it is too hard for us’. On the contrary, I believe that we are equipped by the Holy Spirit to be and to do what we are created to be and to do, so although being obedient may be difficult and painful, it is not impossible. Having said that, I am painfully aware that we all fall short at times and we need to repent, as we do when we say the Lord’s prayer.

        • Tricia July 10, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

          Thanks for the reply. Misunderstood your post. Totally agree with you.

    • Andrew Godsall July 8, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

      “The real issue here isn’t sex or marriage, it’s all about how to read the Bible properly and how to sit under it. When we’ve lost that, then what else do we have?”

      It is all about how to read the bible, yes. And for decades we have recognised that the bible is a whole collection of different sorts of literature, not intended to be taken literally. That does not mean it doesn’t have a supremacy by the way. It means it has to be interpreted and put in context. Taking the bible literally is such a low view of such important texts.

      • Ian Paul July 10, 2015 at 10:34 am #

        What qualifies as ‘taking the Bible literally’? Who is doing that?

        And if there are things which appear to require being taken literally, what is the problem with that?

        (Reading ‘literally’ doesn’t exclude interpretation, by the way).

        • Andrew Godsall July 10, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

          “And if there are things which appear to require being taken literally, what is the problem with that?”

          Killer questions Ian – spot on. Thank you.
          So how do we decide which things are required to be taken literally. And if things are open to interpretation, who gets to interpret?
          ????

          • Ian Paul July 10, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

            The people of God, in critically reflective continuity with the saints of previous generations, and keeping faithful to the apostolic deposit of faith.

          • Andrew Godsall July 10, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

            So it’s a good job the people of God can also reason things out and reflect critically on their experience isn’t it…..

          • Ian Paul July 10, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

            Yes. It is called discipleship.

    • Tricia July 8, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

      Thanks Clive. I have just voted on CitizenGo to thank the countries who are fighting for family values at the UN. Notably as you say NOT our country and not the western countries with their liberal sexual liberation agenda. To have to be relying on countries like Ecuador
      Really does say something about the spiritual darkness enveloping the west.

      Also thankful for David Ould’s post on Matthew 19. The revisionists would have us believe that Jesus had made no comments on sexuality. If anything he raised the bar. He did not leave us to face our problems. The Father sent the Comforter to help us and bring us into all truth.
      As the Prayer book says: Take not Thy Holy Spirit from us

  11. Mark Vasey-Saunders July 8, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    Ian,

    Thank you for this post, which like most of your posts is considered and thought-provoking. I am flattered that you should have picked up my comments on the Open Church event. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and quoting me at such length. You are quite right that, like you, I am concerned that a shift appears to be happening in the ethical position on same-sex marriage amongst liberal-leaning evangelicals without much sign that they are considering what this might imply about their understanding of scripture. Also, like you, I am concerned that despite the rhetoric of being ‘inclusive’ many pro-gay groupings show little sign of tolerance for those who adhere to more conservative positions.

    I am interested to know why you describe me as a ‘keen supporter of same-sex marriage’ however. To the best of my knowledge I have never made any such statement, so even if I were a supporter it would be hard to make a case for me being ‘keen’. In fact I think I would describe my position as a moderately conservative one – I feel that the best understanding of the biblical texts is one that sees marriage as between a man and a woman.

    • Ian Paul July 9, 2015 at 10:42 am #

      Mark, thanks for your comments.

      I am not sure why I attributed that position to you. I wonder if I was confused by knowing someone of the same name and comments on Twitter!

      I have corrected this in the piece, and on the parallel posted on Fulcrum.

      best…

  12. Bryden Black July 9, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    As a colleague of Peter Carrell’s in NZ, I have to concur with his assessment of this piece Ian; thank you! That said, a few further comments of my own re Scripture. Andrew has remarked on what “supremacy” might mean, what it might look like; and then he has made further remarks re “literal” readings. This too is helpful.

    1. Three books from the 2000s are brilliant in my view: Telford Work’s Living and Active: Scripture in the Economy of Salvation (Eerdmans, 2002); John Webster’s Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (CUP, 2003); and Tom Wright’s The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture (Harper, 2005) [alternatively, Scripture and the Authority of God (SPCK)]. Then more recently Webster has followed his earlier book up with The Domain of the Word: Scripture and Theological Reason (T&T Clark, 2012). Altogether, they offer more than enough grist to the mill and a superb answer for us all regarding both the use of Scripture and its supreme authority in matters of faith and morals. In the end, frankly, there’s little wriggle room for not abiding by the traditional view of marriage and sexual mores. I.e. other factors entirely are driving folk here, especially a pick and choose, mix and match attitude to Holy Scripture.

    2. Re “literal” readings: our contemporary problem here is that we are mostly ignorant of the many shades of meaning of this very word. E.g. the Reformers’ own appreciation of literal was very different to our own really rather modernist, rationalistic, and far more narrow sense. As for context and other hermeneutical matters therefore: I’d merely point to Tony Thiselton’s magisterial commentary on First Corinthians (Eerdmans, 2000) and the treatment of that thorny passage, chapter 6. Again: brilliant!

    • Ian Paul July 13, 2015 at 9:54 am #

      Bryden, thanks for the comment and the references to the books…very helpful.

  13. Martin Reynolds July 9, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    This post misses the balance and carefully managed nuances coming from Lambeth Palace.
    The decisions of General Convention had been widely expected and the reaction from Welby some time in the preparation, just before he issued this statement Welby issued a defence of the new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion and pointing out how far the Church of Nigeria had strayed from the Lambeth 1.10.
    The content of the statement from Welby on TECs decision was poorly arranged, rather muddled and hardly “strong” but nonetheless I would see these two statements as a deliberate pair which would account for the several months that elapsed between the statement from Nigeria and its rebuttal.
    For those who have not read this unvarnished letter from the Nigerian Church it demonstrates a clearer picture of the thinking behind much of GAFCON and the Global South http://anglican-nig.org/appointment-of-the-most-revd-josiah-idowu-fearon-as-the-general-secretary-of-acc-the-stand-of-the-church-of-nigeria-anglican-communion/

  14. Andrew Brown July 9, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    Ian, you’re obviously intelligent and thoughtful and not playing games here. But if you want to understand why people have very little sympathy for the idea that your side is being bullied, read again this section of your own post:

    In a facilitated session one person said that the orthodox position was responsible for their friends’ suicide. While I showed concern for their loss, and acknowledged the hurt caused by prejudice and judgemental attitudes within churches, I rejected the direct link between holding an orthodox understanding of sexual relationships and their friends’ decision to end their life. I then shared how I felt that the celebration of same-sex relationships was deeply damaging to society through the confusion it brings to issues of identity, relationships, gender, sin, etc. and how it undermines the position of heterosexual marriage which is God’s intended pattern for sexual relationships.

    Now, I wasn’t there. I don’t know how he in fact expressed himself. But it sounds from the description as if he said something like. “That’s a terrible story. I’m really sorry to hear it. Of course I can’t accept that what I believe was in any way responsible for your friend’s ghastly fate, which I truly regret. Now, here’s what I believe …”

    I accept that this is a logically completely coherent and defensible position. The person who killed themselves might have had reasons for this entirely unrelated to the conservative view of their sexuality. I don’t know the facts and am assuming no one else here does.

    None the less, the tone-deafness is breathtaking. It sounds like Iain Duncan Smith claiming that the rise of food banks has nothing to do with his reforms. People who can talk like that can’t expect to be believed when they complain of being bullied or marginalised in their turn, because no one who had actually really known what it is to be on the losing side in the playground could be quite so crass.

    Similarly, the Church of Nigeria wants gay people criminalised. The church of Uganda wants the death penalty for “aggravated sodomy”. If those who side with that view, and those churches, want to feel bullied by public revulsion elsewhere, they’re gong to have to feel sorry for themselves, because no one else will.

    I write this as someone who is not particularly enthusiastic about gay marriage, for entirely traditional reasons, though I think civil partnerships are great, and should be extended to some straight people as well. I also think that the Belfast cake makers should not have been prosecuted, on grounds of free speech, though a study of NI law, which is very restrictive about political opinions, makes it clear that the judgment was legally OK.

    In the end, it seems to me,the difficulty with the “Scriptural” view about the un-naturalness of homosexuality compared to other, straighter forms of sexual immorality, is that it goes back to the creation story in Genesis, of which it is a salient feature that it didn’t actually happen. Unless you are a young earth creationist, that is a part of the Bible which you have to read as liberals are accused of reading the whole thing.

    • Ian Paul July 9, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

      Andrew, thanks for coming and commenting…and for crediting me with intelligence!

      A couple of things here. First, I know John personally and he is a reasonable and pastoral person. He is not unmoved by such things, and I would be surprised if he came across as callous or as not listening.

      Secondly, I think the Churches of Nigeria and Uganda are quite wrong to criminalise same-sex activity, and have said so publicly…as has Justin Welby quite clearly. However, I am also conscious of the complex cultural issues here. The Church of Uganda is (theologically and affectively) founded on the execution of the 45 martyrs. The immediate cause of their deaths was their refusal to be sodomised by the king as a sign of his authority over them. I am not sure that Western commentators have got their heads around this—resistance to this specific cultural assumption is absolutely central here, and in a sense I can see how Christians in Uganda feel they have been here before.

      Finally, this is not the first time that a teenage suicide has been used to silence dissent. In Didsbury, I understand that it has split the church, and I gather that all dissent has in effect been silenced. As I am sure you well know, teenagers face many challenges, and the reasons for teen suicides are always deeply complex. But to claim that orthodox teaching ‘led to’ this is like suggesting that teaching on healthy eating is the cause of any suicide by teens who are overweight.

      And to object to this link, in any context, is then to be accused of deafness…as you have done.

      • Andrew Brown July 10, 2015 at 9:37 am #

        Ian, I agree that the church in Uganda is a special case. No such excuses can be made for the church in Nigeria, which has been rather more active on this question within the Anglican Communion. I stood several feet from Bishop Chukwama when he was attempting to exorcise Richard Kirker at Lambeth in 1998. It was an unforgettable experience. I watched from within the marquee as Lambeth 1.10 was debated and passed: believe me, I know what homophobic bullying looks, smells and sounds like.

        It is perfectly possible to be opposed to gay marriage without being aligned with the Nigerian church but I think that to be credible for gay Anglicans you have to be very explicit and upfront about that before doing anything else.

        Now, I don’t know anything about the particular circumstances of the suicides you mention. And it’s entirely possible that the traditional teaching on sex played no part in either. It’s also quite possible that it was important in both. What leaves a bad taste in the mouth is that the people who for most of history have been on the bullying side and perfectly happy there suddenly claiming to be a persecuted minority (“dissent has been silenced”) when the boot is on the other foot. And even in your analogy between obesity on the one hand and campaigning for healthy eating on the other you are assuming precisely the point that’s in dispute — whether being gay is in an of itself unhealthy. To the rest of us it’s much more like someone being bullied for having red hair in a school where only blondes are acceptable.

        I have to be careful here, because I know that any position can be used to justify and indeed to whip up intolerance. I don’t want to claim that people who are liberal on this question are nicer or morally better just because they’re right.

        But evangelical Protestants are particularly vulnerable to the charge of homophobia because they do by and large accept no fault divorce, remarriage, and all the other breaches of the scriptural standard that are accepted in their families and peer groups. To that extent they are making a clear distinction on the basis of sexual orientation in exactly the way that they claim not to be with all the stuff about marriage being between one man and one woman for life (assuming for the sake of argument that that is the “biblical” pattern). Roman Catholics, at least some RCs, don’t do this. You can say the official position is wrong (and I do) but it’s equal opportunities wrong: anthropophobic, not homophobic.

        In the wider culture the question is over, gone, done with. Discrimination is taken to be wrong in the same axiomatic way that it was taken to be right fifty years ago. The view of marriage as a contract rather than a covenant is similarly taken as self-evident. Christians might feel they should behave differently but until and unless the conservatives understand that they are arguing from premises which are broadly held to be immoral as well as invalid, they’re not going to get anywhere. Perhaps the seeping realisation that this is now their position is what accounts for the belief that they are being persecuted, silenced, bullied, etc. But being persecuted, bullied, silenced and so on are distinct from the general alienation of world view — and not to my mind happening. They might yet happen, and there are fanatical anti-Christians who want them to but only a fringe. For the most part your problem is that no prominent evangelical can bring themselves to apologise for such things as the treatment of Alan Turing — partly because, if they did, their constiuency would revolt.

        I am at risk of self righteousness here. I will shut up and earn a living instead.

        • David Shepherd July 10, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

          Andrew,

          Your charge of evangelical homophobia deserves exploration. In particular, what’s your evidence that evangelical Protestants are guilty of bias in ‘*accepting* by and large no-fault divorce, remarriage and all other breaches of the scriptural standard’?

          When we consider the scriptural standard, along with Matt. 19, we must also factor in St. Paul’s apostolic instructions concerning marriage and sexual continence among the faithful. For instance, although he relays unequivocally the dominical pronouncement against divorce, he still engages pastorally with the unexpectedly large influx of Gentile converts whose spouses had remained unbelievers.

          For the most part, the apostle’s emphasis on the significance of celibacy is in terms of focusing on the second advent through availability for ministry and detachment from worldly concerns. At the same time, he upholds marriage as the legitimate means of ensuring that sexual desire is channelled responsibly. (vs. 1 – 9)

          Of course, proponents of same-sex marriage would argue that, if marriage channels heterosexual orientation towards monogamous heterosexual commitment, then the same institution should channel homosexual orientation towards monogamous homosexual commitment.

          And, in fact, if mutual commitment was the only effect of marriage, SSM supporters would have a far stronger argument.

          However, there are numerous case law examples that show that, once the institution’s two-parent family model is gender-neutralised, natural parenthood becomes expendable, interchangeable and routinely supplanted in order to preserve the family intentions of same-sex married couples. SSM supporters here may have offered sympathy, but no workable remedy for this injustice. It’s simply collateral damage in pursuing what they perceive as the greater good.

          1 Corinthians 7 certainly echoes Christ own teaching in Matt. 19: ‘To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife’ (vs. 10 – 11)

          Yet, the apostle, qualifies this by addressing a completely different audience to Jesus’ hearers: gentile converts who were married to unbelievers before coming to Christ. If those described in verse 12 were indistinguishable from the married in verse 10, they wouldn’t be called ‘the rest’. Distinguishing the latter would make no sense, but I’m open to an alternative explanation.

          The pastoral accommodation of vs. 15 is only extended conditionally to those whom he calls ‘the rest’. From the apostolic perspective, divorce is not permissible for a believer who is married to an unbelieving spouse, who is still ‘pleased to dwell’ :

          ‘To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.’ (vs. 12 -14, NIV)

          The Greek for ‘willing’ here is ‘syneudokei’, which means a cooperative understanding, and not just passive acceptance, or a mere resignation to continue living together.

          Of course, the final incontrovertible evidence of an unwillingness to live with one’s spouse is desertion: ‘But if the unbeliever leaves (ch?rizetai), let it be so’. It’s worth remembering that Jesus used a similar word, chorizeto, to describe the effect of divorce in Matt. 19:6.

          The apostle’s pastoral accommodation is for those who have effectively been deserted: ‘The brother or the sister is not enslaved in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?’ (vs. 15, 16)

          Yes, we might well debate whether verse 15 accommodates remarriage, or just separation, but that still doesn’t add up to a breach of the scriptural standard.

          If the verse supports remarriage, it would validate the General Synod affirmation that: ‘“there are exceptional circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church during the lifetime of a former spouse”.

          As an evangelical who has been divorced, St. Paul’s pastoral accommodation reads far more clearly than the CofE’s pastoral guidance on church remarriage after divorce. I’m also happy to exclude myself from consideration for ordained ministry as the apostle insists that any such leader should be ‘the husband of one wife’.

          Nevertheless, it’s also equally clear is that it’s bogus to claim that evangelical Protestants are biased in imposing scriptural standards on homosexual relationships alone (and therefore homophobic).

          And just to be clear, citing a few prominent evangelical churchmen, like Lord Carey of Clifton, as evidence of bias is no better than for me to quote the rants of a few ‘fanatical anti-Christians’ as evidence of the widespread persecution of evangelical Protestants.

          • Andrew Brown July 11, 2015 at 8:20 am #

            In brief, the acceptance is a historical phenomenon. Sixty years ago, no evangelical would have objected — certainly none did — when Geoffrey Fisher stopped Princess Margaret marrying a divorced man. Thirty years ago it was still a live issue. Just.
            Now the mainstream evangelical opinion is yours, or something like it. At all stages there were learned and sincere arguments from exegesis on both sides. What made one or the other seem convincing (it seems to me) was not the quality of the arguments in themselves, but the plausibility that lived experience gave them.

          • David Shepherd July 11, 2015 at 9:57 am #

            Andrew,

            Thanks for your reply.

            As you’re probably aware, the CofE report, Putting Asunder (1966), had recommended the concept of ‘irretrievable breakdown’ and the 1969 Divorce Reform Act had adopted it.

            Again, it was General Synod, as a whole, that debated and approved the proposals of the 1996 Family Law Act for no-fault divorce.

            At the same time, there was still a fairly strong evangelical contingent that continued to argue for marriage to be understood as covenant, rather than a contract that could be repudiated on the ground of that one spouse had become incompatible with the other’s ‘needs’ (See Issues facing Christians today, 4th edition.) So, I still can’t see how evangelicals are supposed to have become particularly accepting of no-fault divorce.

            What you’ve described as ‘lived experience’ hss become an overwrought bias towards subjectivity.

            Of course, there is room for intensely personal anecdotes, especially when friends and relatives are able to describe the impact of policies that assign culpability for what were, at one time, viewed as matrimonial and sexual offences. I just don’t think that these stories should become the predominant basis for public policy,

        • James Byron July 10, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

          Andrew, what possible excuse do murders in the 1880s offer the Church of Uganda?

          Moreover, what does rape used as a tool of dominance have to do with homosexuality? Rape is about power, not sexuality. Prisons are filled with men who rape men, but who’re virulently homophobic, and outside lockup, would never consider sleeping with another man.

          Uganda isn’t a special case. Not at all. Homophobic acts wouldn’t be excusable by having suffered a rape, let alone by your distant ancestors being threatened with one. To use it as an exuse, especially when gay men are at particular risk of suffering male-on-male rape, is as unjustified as it is absurd. It takes the gay panic defense to extremes that’d embarrass the most amoral of attorneys.

          • Ian Paul July 13, 2015 at 9:57 am #

            James, I think you are here imposing modern Western categories on the historical account. I don’t think that the king sodomising his subjects would have been understood as rape then; it was a cultural norm.

            For the Church in Uganda, it has been important for them to resist what they see as cultural norms in sexuality.

            Again, I am not defending the criminalisation of homosexuality (whatever that is); but I am asking we consider other cultures intelligently.

          • James Byron July 13, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

            If Mwanga’s actions are being used to justify the persecution of LGBT Ugandans, then, since the concept of homosexuality would’ve been unknown amongst the martyrs, the Church of Uganda has superimposed modern Ugandan categories on the historical record.

            And if the Church of Uganda equates rape (as Mwanga’s acts would now be understood in Uganda) and sexuality, those modern categories are as unjustified as they are homophobic. A king attempting to rape his subjects is no more an argument against homosexuality than Henry VIII’s bloodsoaked marital record is an argument against heterosexuality.

            Considering other cultures intelligently means avoiding uncritical relativism. Uganda needs to change for the exact same reason that Western countries needed to change: its treatment of LGBT people is harmful and wrong. To say anything less would be to cast aside LGBT Ugandans. Human rights are indivisible and universal.

    • Ian Paul July 9, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

      On your final point, there is nothing particularly ‘liberal’ about reading as authoritative passages that didn’t actually happen. I don’t think ‘a sower went out to sow’ but I think the parable teaches the truth about the kingdom.

      • Andrew Brown July 11, 2015 at 8:26 am #

        Oh, I see! Seriously. That does explain a lot to me. If you treat Genesis as a parable, then questions of historical truth become irrelevant. The real point is that you don’t submit to the authority of history — and that may be the wellspring of all religion, certainly if Santayana was right.

    • James Byron July 9, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

      Andrew, d’you consider tradition to be authoritative? If so, why? I recall you saying in the Guardian that you’re an atheist! If not, why are you “not particularly enthusiastic about gay marriage” on grounds of tradition? Surely there should not only be some rational basis for denying LGBT people the right to marry, but a compelling rational basis.

      Disagree as I do with Ian, I understand why he holds the views that he does: his beliefs are (hope I’m wording this right, Ian; if not, I welcome correction) founded on his understanding of revelation and biblical authority. Absent that framework, opposition to equal marriage is a lot harder to justify.

      Ian, I agree we should be free to discuss this on the merits. For me, the account of the “shared conversations” emphasizes, once again, that this would be better debated openly on the floor of a synod. The facilitated conversations appear to be designed to keep a lid on issues more than to address them.

      • Andrew Brown July 10, 2015 at 8:36 am #

        “Not particularly enthusiastic … on traditional grounds” because I think it is worthwhile and important to have special arrangements for families formed to nurture children. Which, it seems to me, most gay partnerships are not. This is something between an instinct and a quibble, since some same sex partnerships are formed around children; and, obviously, if the practical choices are between “gay sex is loathsome and should be stamped out” and “gay people should be able to get married like everyone else”, I come down for the latter.

        My position is broadly that there ought to be a socially recognised and celebrated form in which gay people can have partnership-nurturing sex; I’m not sure that it ought to be called marriage. But the name does not matter very much to me.

        • James Byron July 10, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

          Thanks for the explanation, Andrew. 🙂

          It illustrates why equal marriage is carrying the day in so many countries: the substantive arguments against it don’t withstand scrutiny. As you admirably note, your position can be rebutted, and many people who nominally oppose equal marriage share your priorities.

          • David Shepherd July 10, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

            James,

            ‘substantive arguments against it don’t withstand scrutiny’.

            In fact, the opposite is true: the emotive arguments in favour of same-sex marriage do not withstand (nor even countenance) scrutiny.

            Whenever I’ve highlighted the impact on natural parenthood of normatively recognising same-sex couples as co-founders of family units with legally protected autonomy, your response has been to consider it as lamentable, instead of scrutinising the issue.

            What remedy do you propose when powerful organisations like the ILGA are bent on ensuring that marriage equality includes a marital presumption of parenthood regardless of genetic connection?

            Or is no sacrifice of others too great, including the legalised erasure of half of a child’s biological identity, in furtherance of what you might perceive as the greater good of same-sex marriage equivalence?

          • James Byron July 10, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

            David, as I’ve said many times before to you, my solution is to change the law so this isn’t an issue (say by mandating DNA tests if a party has reasonable cause to dispute paternity). This is a narrow issue that shouldn’t, and can’t, be used as a wedge to pull apart equal marriage.

          • David Shepherd July 10, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

            James,

            DNA tests are already determining disputes of paternity. So, if you mean that, outside of medically assisted reproduction, a positive test would normatively grant natural fathers legal paternity and rebut the same-sex spouses parental claims, that would permit them to intrude upon the family intentions of same-sex couples in every instance.

            You merely expose your own bias by asserting that the co-founding of intact families through marriage is a narrow issue. That’s because you simply ignore the considerable body of statute and case law and even the historic public policy reasons for marriage registration.

            All to shoehorn the institution into affirming same-sex relationships through public policy. That purpose can’t really withstand rational scrutiny, even if it’s undergirded by a wealth of popular emotive justifications

      • Tricia July 10, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

        James
        You seem to take the view that this is gay/straight issue. It is not, as a number of gay people voted “no” in the Irish referendum. They agreed with the yes side that mother father parent child matters and that marriage is a special union. Also the spat with Elton John and Dolce and Gabbana show two differing view points. Dolce and Gabbana consider that “mamma matters”. Elton John considers he has a family but where is “mamma”. Civil Union gives all legal protections for a gay couple without destroying the unique union between male and female.

        • Clive July 10, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

          Dear James

          What Elton John has done, regardless of theology, is quite wrong.

          My Father died when I was a child. I did not find out until well into adulthood that there is an inherited disease on my Father’s side. Nor is it a disease that can be cured. It can be halted but it cannot be cured so by the time doctors discover the truth it is too late, the best that can be done is that the illness can be halted but then you live with the illness.

          I had to tell my doctor what the problem was.

          The doctor said it was no problem because they just ask for a letter from the grandfather …. but my grandfather died when my father was a child … so that wasn’t going to happen.

          The doctor had to admit that in the NHS illnesses evident in your Uncle or Aunt (both in my case) doesn’t count. So I have lived with that discrimination and paid for the tests myself.

          So a CHILD really DOES need to know who their NATURAL parents are.

          Yet Elton John is rich enough that he has put his own wants and desires first and had a contract drawn up under Californian law so that the child cannot find out anything about the parents and the parents can never contact the child. That is fundamentally wrong.

          The child’s NEEDS should come first.

          If a child is orphaned then nobody would wish that on a child. We make the best of a bad job – importantly that cannot be a valid excuse for the kind of contract Elton John drew up.

          • James Byron July 10, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

            Clive, my condolences for your loss, and for what you went through afterwards. It was wrong, and should never have happened.

            This isn’t an argument against equal marriage, but against non-disclosure of medical records. I’d support all necessary changes, which can be accomplished without denying marriage on the basis of sexuality.

        • James Byron July 10, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

          Tricia, I agree that marriage equality’s not a gay/straight issue, but a justice issue.

          There’ll be some LGBT people who oppose it, just as there were women who opposed equal suffrage, and African-Americans who owned slaves. They’re not the majority, and do nothing to undermine the merits of the case in favor.

          • Tricia July 10, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

            What are the merits as opposed to Civil Partnership?

          • James Byron July 10, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

            Symbolically, inclusion and affirmation; practically, in some countries, marriage confers benefits that civil unions don’t (I.e., immigration and federal benefits in America).

          • Tricia July 10, 2015 at 10:13 pm #

            So symbolism, affirmation and inclusion for 1.7% of the population takes precedent over Jesus’ direct teaching on marriage in Matt 19, the special unit that makes mother, father, child, grandparents etc, the special physical bond between male and female and the natural order.
            Same sex marriage is not marriage because neither consummation nor adultery are possible and they cannot participate in natural parenthood. Just because the Government have chosen to make a ridiculous law which states that same sex couples cannot consummate but are marred and heterosexuals must consummate or are not married does not make this marriage in God’s eyes.
            I won’t move on to children as I see that Clive has already raised this issue and for you they are collateral damage in the greater good. Maybe you should read the stories of the children of gay couples who petitioned the Supreme Court not to allow Same sex marriage – it’s called Jephthahs daughters. Children need a mother and father and they need an identity which cannot be stolen from them.

          • James Byron July 10, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

            Tricia, I do not view children as “collateral damage,” as I don’t have reason to believe that children raised by same-sex couples are damaged by the experience. (You’ll find plenty positive testimony, and I’m unaware of any research that shows harm.) Even if being raised by a same-sex couple damaged children, it’s a separate issue to marriage equality.

            Since marriage laws apply to all, they must have a secular basis, so Jesus’ words aren’t the deciding factor. As for adultery and consummation, they have, in many jurisdictions’ marriage law, already been abolished, and like raising children, are a separate issue to same-sex marriage. You could easily include both, by defining consummation as any sexual act.

          • Tricia July 10, 2015 at 11:19 pm #

            You fail to see the connection with children and marriage. Without contraception over the past 50 years no-one would doubt the link. The natural union of male and female is exactly the same as in nature. Male + female = offspring. Biological, genealogical linkage. 2 people of the same sex indulging in sexual activity remains 2 people.
            Jesus tightens marriage law in Matt 19 to ensure that the man nurtures and cares for his family, the woman is not abandoned, the child is with its mother and father. Sexual activity is restrained within boundaries.
            As David pointed out what is happening now is that same sex couples are expecting to be part of this and form family. But it is not family – the child lacks a parent and identity. Would you like to be the child of a sperm donor or a poor woman who was paid to be an incubator. Never to know half your identity. Do you really believe this is in keeping with God’s will. Your blind wilful promotion of what you see as a righteous cause leads to pain for others.

          • James Byron July 11, 2015 at 12:19 am #

            I of course see the connection between marriage and children, Tricia, but as the conservative judge Richard Posner noted in his devastating takedown of Wisconsin and Indiana’s bans on equal marriage, since a marriage can proceed in their absence, they’re just one factor, and infertility cannot be used as a barrier to same-sex couples.

            Moreover, as noted, marriage and same-sex parenting are separate issues. If you deny them access to marriage, same-sex couples can and do raise children regardless. All marriage does it add stability and protection to families that already exist. If you want to ban same-sex couples from raising children (do you?), it’s a distinct from equal marriage, to be argued on its own merits.

          • Clive July 11, 2015 at 7:32 am #

            Dear James

            You have never seen any research that SSM damages children because you haven’t looked – even the submissions to the Supreme Court in the USA showed that SSM is harmful to children and was submitted by the children themselves.

            Indeed the counter judgements in the split verdict shows what many of the Judges even at Supreme court level think of your alleged “devastating takedown”.

            Infertility NEVER was an issue.
            A woman CANNOT go before a Judge and say I’d like to marry my brother and it’s ‘cos I’m infertile!
            The law, even NOW, includes limits on who can marry between a man and a woman PRECISELY because of the possibility of procreation irrespective of the medical view of fertility.
            Innfertility never was an issue at all.

          • Tricia July 11, 2015 at 9:14 am #

            Again you are wilfully blind. By insisting that two people off the same sex can marry. You damage the special position in society which acknowledges the natural order.
            We now have the ridiculous and dangerous situation where children are to be taught that they can have 2 mummies or 2 daddies. Well biology lessons will put paid to that. As is obvious from my previous post I don’t consider that rights to children should be available and our government has been totally cavalier on this. Many Governments such as Spain and France do not allow this. But following your logic these rights should be allowed.
            Over 95% of the world’s population is heterosexual and we should not be teaching children that a minority form of sexuality is normal. But maybe that is the point is it – to make more children LGBT?
            My grandson is 7 and now has a girl in his class happily telling her classmates that she is going to marry another girl. Or what about the children in Trieste whose parents were outraged and 300,000 protested in Rome – being cross dressed to make them question whether they are a boy or a girl. Your cavalier attitude to Scripture must also conclude that God did not make them male and female after all.

  15. Cynthia July 9, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    What is not quite honest here is that there are now vast writings about Scripture that make it clear that the homophobic “clobber passages” have very different meanings linguistically and in the culture of the time. So people who revere Scripture can very easily come to a position that does not condemn gay people in committed relationships. One might presume that the writings about divorce and adultery may still apply.

    In the OT, Ezekiel makes clear that the “sin of Sodom” was not homosexuality. And Leviticus creates major integrity problems. If you use it to support anti-gay views, then are you onboard with supporting slavery or stoning women who aren’t virgins, are you giving up on wearing mixed fibres or tatoos or eating shellfish? Are you vigorously campaigning to forgive the debts of the poor every 7 years? To vigorously invoke one element of Leviticus without the others is hard to justify.

    Ultimately, the reason there’s little in the way of “moderate” voices is because gay people are not positions. Gay people are human beings, Children of God, part of the Body of Christ. Treating gay issues like marriage as “positions” objectifies human beings and puts people in the class of “other.” Those who don’t think that the anti-gay positions don’t contribute to bullying and hate crimes are being naive – that is always the result of objectifying people. For me, this involves a mega WWJD question. And I can’t believe that he would make outcasts and subject them to hate.

    • Ian Paul July 9, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

      Thanks for contributing Cynthia…but I think you are quite mistaken on this.

      I know of no-one who refers to the Ezekiel texts as of significance here. Your outline of a way to read Leviticus is crudely literalistic, and forms no part of any responsible traditionalist argument. Leviticus matters because the texts on same-sex activity are endorsed by Jesus, the Council in Acts 15 and by Paul. The laws on clothing and food are not. If you read some of the literature, you will find that the point is not that we follow Leviticus, but that we take the whole council of Scripture–which is in fact unanimous on this question.

      Yes, gay people are human beings, and we are all a mixture of virtuous and sinful, and the call to ‘repent and believe’ applies to us all equally. Jesus never made people outcasts, but he still called all to repent.

      you might like to start your reading on the texts here http://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/the-biblical-texts-on-same-sex-unions/

      • Cynthia July 10, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

        Thanks Ian, but most of the writers I’ve read come from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc., rather than a blog. So it seems to me that you are not seeing a wide range of highly learned and incredible scholarship that takes a view way different from the “conservative one.” Look at your own words, dismissing Ezekiel (and Isaiah, by the way), and saying that my reading of Leviticus is too literalistic, and then proclaiming absolutely that the conservative position is more firmly Bible based. Are you seeing a problem with that logic?

        There will always be logic problems with phobias. But sorry, you can’t dismiss the vast liberating literature from leading Western theologians and scholars. Except that you can if your perspective is limited to a few blogs on a tiny island.

        • James Byron July 10, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

          Agenda shouldn’t influence interpretation, in either direction.

          Cynthia, there’s plenty of liberal scholars, with equally impressive credentials (E.P. Sanders and Diarmaid MacCulloch, to name but two), who accept the traditional reading, and say, simply, that the Bible is wrong.

          In any case, interpretation doesn’t rest on credentials, as that’s just an argument from authority, but on the merits of the case. Given that Jesus and Paul were devout Jews, and that 1st century Judaism condemned homosexuality in all circumstances, I find it extremely unlikely thatI the New Testament can be read to affirm gay relationships.

          Instead, why not accept that it condemns homosexuality, and say that it’s wrong to do so? That’s a much stronger case to make. Arguing that scripture affirms gay relationships implicitly accepts that, if it didn’t, we shouldn’t either. We should combat the root cause, biblical authority, and reject the idea that it’s ever OK to condemn people for no reason other than the Bible tells us to.

        • Don Benson July 10, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

          Cynthia, how many of the incredible scholars from Havard, Yale, Stanford etc have advised the US government on economics and foreign policy? Now remind me of the size of the US debt, and the success of US Middle East policy… And perhaps you may not realise that this ‘tiny island’ has academic roots at places like Oxford and Cambridge which existed centuries before Washington was a twinkle in his dear old dad’s eye. Of course I’m playing a playground game here – you know: ‘my dad’s stronger than your dad, my dad’s car goes faster than your dad’s.’ It’s pretty pointless isn’t it, and ultimately it achieves nothing.

          If, as Christians, it is truth we are after the first necessity is to allow the mind of Christ to dwell in us; and for me at least that means accepting what the Bible says on its own terms rather than testing it against our own particular agendas. That certainly includes as much ‘incredible’ scholarship as you can take but the particular challenge of today is to discern what is pure and good scholarship from that which is agenda driven and partisan. Should not mainstream orthodox doctrines (which some are mischievously describing as ‘conservative’) be our default position unless or until they are proven to be irrefutably wrong?

          If we could all work from that basis and cut out the name calling and the accusations we would be partakers of the most enriching Bible study ever – now that would be ‘shared conversations’ worth having.

          • Cynthia July 10, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

            Thanks for the anti-American diatribe. The US government didn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shites, and Tony Blair went along with it, so clearly EVERYTHING that comes out of the US is flawed, and everything UK is brilliant. The person who sorted them out was an American woman from Columbia and Harvard, but it was way too late. So apparently neither GWB nor Blair were using the best minds when they entered into that bone headed adventure. And that is analogous to ignoring a whole swath of scholarship on this blog.

            What I’m saying is that Ian, and many others, are acting if Scripture ONLY supports the “conservative” position. But I’m afraid that isn’t true. There is a ton of excellent scholarship that leads to more liberating positions. Newer understandings of language an culture may well be giving us a truer picture than our English translations, lovely though they may be.

            Mainstream orthodox doctrines supported slavery, the burning of witches, antisemitism, and the unscientific view that men were the creators of new life, while women were just the vessels that carried it. Clearly, new understandings have been needed in the past, and the present.

            So yes, it would be a great conversation to have, but it’s hard to have when people are saying “we have the truth and YOU PEOPLE are just responding to cultural innovations.”

          • James Byron July 11, 2015 at 12:03 am #

            I agree completely about new understandings, Cynthia, but disagree (I think) about their foundation.

            I don’t believe that our morality can, or should, depend on reinterpreting the Bible. That makes us hostage to a book, and endorses authoritarianism, which, in abdicating our personal responsibility to decide ethics, is wrong in and of itself. Injustice shouldn’t be fought in the very terms that caused it.

            Take slavery. Does the Bible endorse it? Yes, I believe it does: true, Paul of Tarsus condemned slave traders, but likewise, America and Britain abolished the slave trade decades before the institution itself, and Paul never shows hostility to slavery as such. He sent Onesimus back to Philemon, with instructions to treat him well, not free him; and was relaxed about slavery in 1 Corinthians 7. Likewise, Jesus didn’t order the Centurion to free his slave.

            Does this mean that slavery is justified? Heck no. Its wrongness isn’t dependent on the biblical text, but on our own judgment. We have rightly come to view slavery as evil, not because the Bible told us to, but because we decided to. Sure, biblical texts were adduced in favor of abolition, particularly Moses, but abolitionists selected them to fit a prior agenda, an agenda that stands on its own merits.

            The biblical canon was closed 2,000 years ago. Human progress wasn’t.

        • Christine Quinn-Jones July 11, 2015 at 10:10 am #

          ‘Incredible scholarship’?! Well, if ‘incredible’ means the opposite of ‘credible’…

          • Christine Quinn-Jones July 11, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

            Oops! I must have hit the wrong button. This was meant to be reply to a post from Cynthia. I’ll post my comment again in the correct place

        • Christine Quinn-Jones July 11, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

          ‘incredible scholarship’ ?! Well, if ‘incredible’ means the opposite of ‘credible’…

          • Christine Quinn-Jones July 11, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

            Well I did hit the correct button this time, and it has still come up in the wrong place, so I give in 🙂

        • Don Benson July 11, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

          Oh dear, Cynthia, you clearly misread my paragraph on your Ivy League universities versus our Oxford and Cambridge – the whole point was that kind of one-upmanship on either side is childish and achieves nothing!

          Surely what we are all looking for is the truth and I’m a bit worried that in a Christian context you are assuming that it is revealed first and foremost to the finest academic minds. If you read 1 Corinthians 1. 18-20 St Paul makes the point far better than I can (‘Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?…’). Of course academic brilliance is God-given and those who have it possess a wonderful gift but even they have to be careful how and why they use it.

          But let us not trade insults because you are probably far too clever and I’m certainly far too stupid for either of us to gain anything from it. More seriously, I hope you won’t give up on us ‘conservative’ Christians and the things which we hold dear; we’re really not so bad and not the least bit sad underneath our austere and grim façade. And part of the reason that we are sticking to our ground in this bitter fight is not to hurt you but because we love you.

      • John July 12, 2015 at 11:22 am #

        Do you agree with Cynthia that homosexuality was not the “sin of Sodom”?

        • Don Benson July 12, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

          John, there are so many ‘replies’ going on here that it’s a job to work out who is speaking to whom. However, if you are referring to Cynthia’s point where she says that ‘Ezekiel makes clear that the “sin of Sodom” was not homosexuality’, I don’t think that is exactly a correct summary of what he says.

          What he actually says is that the ‘sin of Sodom’ was arrogance (which came about from the easy abundance of that city); and he goes on to say that the people there thus committed ‘abominations’ and therefore God removed them when He saw it. Given what we know of the story of Sodom the ‘abominations’ included a desire for homosexual relations with the visitors to that city (although no homosexual activity actually occurred due to the angel visitors striking blindness on those with evil intent). So it’s true that Ezekiel doesn’t specifically mention homosexuality himself – but I’m sure you’d agree that cannot therefore be taken as saying it’s OK.

          As ever with Biblical study it is the whole of the teaching which the Bible conveys which informs our understanding and it is all too easy to extrapolate the meaning of one particular verse without taking into account whether that would really tie in with other relevant verses. We all tend to want to do that when we have a particular investment in a specific point of view!

      • John July 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

        Hi Ian

        I’d be very grateful if you could give me your view on whether Cynthia is correct in saying that homosexuality was not the “sin of Sodom”.

        I asked this question a few days ago but it seemed to get lost in a deluge of other comments.

        Thanks

        • Ian Paul July 26, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

          This is what I said in my Grove booklet:

          Modern English translations render the intent by the two groups of evil men as wanting to ‘have sex with them/him.’ As is common in Hebrew, the word used is ‘to know’ (yada‘) but there is no real doubt what they mean by this.12 It is worth noting that, in both cases, the intent is not carried out, which is ironic given the impact on the English language of Sodom. However, the sense that this sin epitomizes sinful disdain for God’s standards fits with the consistently negative view of same-sex activity elsewhere.13

          Sodom is referred to a further eighteen times in the Old Testament. The major- ity of occurrences use Sodom as a byword for pride and flagrant sinfulness (as in Isa 3.9) or as an image of God’s devastating judgment and total destruction (Deut 29.23; Jer 49.18). Perhaps the most fascinating is Ezek 16.49:

          Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy

          None of these texts specify the sin of Sodom as same-sex sexual relations.14 Sodom is mentioned a further nine times in the New Testament, most com- monly as a byword for refusal to respond to God and for sinful defiance. The one exception is Jude 7, where they ‘gave themselves up to sexual immoral- ity and perversion (literally ‘went after strange [or “other”] flesh’). This last phrase is difficult to interpret; it would be an odd expression for homosexual activity, and perhaps hints at the strange idea of sex with angels.

        • Ian Paul July 26, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

          Curiously, gay biblical scholars would like the term ‘sodomite’ returned to replace ‘homosexual’ because they think it less ideologically loaded…(essentially, ‘sodomite’ refers to action, whereas ‘homosexual’ depends on a psychological judgement, historically which see ‘hetersexual’ as normative)

  16. JCF July 10, 2015 at 12:57 am #

    “the Bible … can be used to say whatever we want it to, or simply be ignored.”

    Yes, why DO conservative Evangelicals USE Scripture this way?

    “The other seeks to submit to Scripture as we interpret it and apply it to our lives and trust in its goodness as God’s word to us, even when it is painful and challenging” . . . to others. Got it.

  17. Clive July 10, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    These are JESUS’ words.
    Dismissing the Bible is only part of it, but you are dismissing BOTH Jesus and Scripture – so what is left of Christianity then if you don’t believe in either of them?

    • Cynthia July 10, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

      Please Clive, tell us which words of Jesus addressed loving same sex couples getting married? Tell me how Matthew 19 isn’t really about divorce, it’s really defining marriage… And then tell me how using it to define marriage isn’t a modern re-interpretation of a passage that has historically been about divorce. (Women who were divorced left vulnerable to poverty and abuse, so He was probably addressing that too).

      I just can’t see the “conservative” modern re-interpretations hold any more authority than hard core scholarship that finds that many supposed references to homosexuality really were something else.

      • Tricia July 10, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

        I think you should read David Ould’s post as it is detailed. However Jesus was addressing the Jews who had asked why Moses had allowed divorce and the answer that they were too hard to teach. However as Christians have no such excuse as we are given the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
        Marriage is given as an example of the relationship between Christ and His church – it is that important.
        Marriage follows the creation narrative as Jesus points out in Matt 19. We are to be fruitful and multiply. In marriage husband wife give of their bodies to one another. This is a consummation of their relationship and is not to be broken by adultery. Through this giving God gives a share in creation – another human being who is made of the 2 and Is genetically connected to the 2 and their ancestors.
        A same sex couple cannot consummate, cannot commit adultery and cannot share in creation.

      • Clive July 11, 2015 at 7:37 am #

        Jesus DOES speak about marriage Cynthia in the gospels. “Haven’t you read?” therefore Jesus does answer your question if you are willing to look and understand.

    • Cynthia July 10, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

      And what about Jesus’s commandment not to judge? If you want to take Jesus seriously, then there is no judging and there are no outcasts. There is compassion, forgiveness, and some subversive behavior against oppressive authorities.

      I know that some in CoE see religion as a personal thing about personally ticking the right boxes – not gay? – check. But the overwhelming message is that of our societies, justice, observing hospitality (which the UK and US are doing so well with our immigrants…), caring for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the oppressed, the imprisoned (and He never asks why they are in prison).

      Even if you insist that the Bible is totally anti-gay, there are something like 6 supposed references. Does that not suggest that people are going crazy over something that has little priority to God?

      • David Shepherd July 11, 2015 at 8:20 am #

        Cynthia,

        I dare say that you would need to square this commandment not to judge with Christ’s command to ‘judge righteous judgment’ (John 7:24)

        If you’ve chosen to give such unqualified weight to the former as to exclude the latter, then that’s your own bias. Just don’t expect us to excise bits of the Bible in agreement with you.

  18. Clive July 11, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    Cynthia calling Christians, the Bible etc ant-gay is not clever. If even St Paul can tell us that he always falls short of the glory so he is always a sinner needing forgiveness then we all fall short of the glory of God and that is TRUE EQUALITY.

    • Clive July 11, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      Dear Cynthia

      You have referred to the Old Testament (OT) references from Harvard Yale and called this just a blog without really understanding that Ian is a professor on the subject. He is too modest to tell you and he respects every point of view, very much including yours, even though he doesn’t always agree at all.

      Your references to the OT from Harvard and Yale noticeably omit any reference to the NT, which is odd. Yet the OT is God in Israel’s history whereas the NT is God on earth. The difference is stark and it is never difficult to find parts of the OT with which God disagrees but God is still revealed in history even when he disagrees with what is done..

      I read Ian’s thoughts with respect because I only have a Masters degree in the subject (my first degrees are in Science and Engineering) and until moving house to a different region I was on the Diocesan Liturgical Advisory Commission.

      You have asked when Jesus ever spoke about same sex marriage. Jesus didn’t say much on same sex relationships but he really did speak about marriage and Jesus’ words about marriage can only be fulfilled by a man and a woman, same sex relationships cannot be a marriage, they can neither become one nor procreate. Since Jesus speaks about marriage clearly it follows that he did speak about same sex marriage, he just hardly said anything about same sex relationships. Relationships are not the same as marriage.

      Most respondents, including myself, are not against same sex relationships at all – but marriage and the family deserve far more respect and understanding than they are getting from this current diatribe.

      • Cynthia July 11, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

        Clive, you say this:
        Most respondents, including myself, are not against same sex relationships at all – but marriage and the family deserve far more respect and understanding than they are getting from this current diatribe.

        MY family deserves far more respect and understanding. And that is the fundamental problem here. Some people believe THEIR families are more respectable/honorable/Bible based than others. Plenty of us have children (I don’t) and treating them differently is just cruel. As Paul Farmer has said, pretty much all sins are based on the belief that some lives are more valuable than others. Or some families are more valuable than others.

        My wife is a leading academic in her field, we travel all over for it. I have tremendous respect for the work of academics. What I can’t respect is an academic who pretends that there is no body of scholarship (let alone highly credible scholarship, which is why I invoked our Ivy Leagues) that indicates a vastly different reading of Scripture.

        I’m not promoting Oxbridge vs US Ivies, I’m saying there is a much broader view that includes a liberating one. Ignoring that is simply dishonest. But one of your own has said it far better than I can. Here: http://www.churchnewspaper.com/41004/archives

        I’d bring out my bibliography, but I did that work decades ago and I’m leaving today to do my Baptismal Ministry in Haiti.

        Please give this all some thought and real prayer, with a concern for ALL children, ALL families, ALL lives, and some potential new revelation. I just have this feeling that we, from the richest countries the world has ever known, should be working together on Baptismal Ministries for the poor and oppressed rather than these culture wars.

        Blessings on everyone.

  19. Cynthia July 11, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    In case no one’s seen it, the Oregon case of fining the bakers $135,000 was NOT for refusing to bake a cake. It’s because the owners set out on a national hate campaign that included giving out the home address of the couple and their two foster children, who are now adopted. As a result, the family received death threats, and social services threatened to remove the children for their physical safety. The false version got the most press because certain right wingers wanted it to. Here’s one link to one story that is following up with the truth. http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/oregon-bakers-werent-fined-over-cake-they-were-punished-for-sharing-lesbian-couples-home-address/#.VZ_tGWN_n-4.facebook

  20. Clive July 11, 2015 at 11:34 pm #

    Dear Cynthia,

    It has already been pointed out gently that you are referring to the wrong part of the Bible. Yet you try to use this incorrect passage to play Harvard, Yale and Stanford against others. Yet there are even many scholars in the USA who don’t support your position.

    Now you try to claim lack of respect for your own family circumstances to justify the clear disrespect for parents and families everywhere.

    You make a claim, as some others have done before, that the Oregon case is not being reported correctly yet none of you have justified in any way the:
    a) damages of $135,000
    b) the failure to examine the medical claims of the plaintiff at all
    c) the connection between the person making the claim and the “rights” group
    d) the failure to engage in proper process for making the demands
    e) now making a claim on their house

    Prayer is appropriate but you have a lot of thinking to do.

  21. Clive July 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    Throughout this site there is real listening and respect.

    Real understanding of Scripture does not involve taking a single passage and basing everything on that. It involves taking everything that is said in Scripture and seeing how it all influences each other. So taking the passages in Leviticus on their own (the so-called “clobber texts”) is not actually understanding what Scripture says.
    Listening does not mean we agree. Yet we still listen to what is said with respect.

    Most readers of scholarly works probably agree that the Leviticus texts do not always attack same sex relations so most readers look at the the scholars’ views on the New Testament text to understand that.
    So we still listen to what is said with respect.

    We try to avoid extremist views on either side and although we do listen to what is said many of us notice how very, very different the reporting of the Oregon affair is on sites like:
    http://www.frc.org/washingtonupdate/20150709/lien-on-me

    and
    http://dailysignal.com/2015/07/02/state-silences-bakers-who-refused-to-make-cake-for-lesbian-couple-fines-them-135k/

    Listening does not mean we agree and it does not mean that the comment made does not appear to be one-sided. Yet we still listen to what is said with respect.

    People on this site have not answered back when one view of the Oregon affair has been noted and written about, but not the other.
    Yet we still listen to what is said with respect.

    In the UK, the government showed no valuing of Fathers on Fathers’ day. Similarly there was no valuing of Mothers on Mothering Sunday. Yet every department (except one which is now receiving a talking to) flew the rainbow flag on gay pride day so the political message is very clear that Fathers, Mothers and children are not respected and this has now been rammed home and confirmed by the vote in the UN in which the UK voted against Grandparents, Fathers, Mothers, children and families.
    Yet we still listen to what is said with respect.

    It was George Orwell in Animal Farm who said that everyone is equal but some are more equal than others. That in the UK is where we are now.
    Yet we still listen to what is said with respect.

    This involves respecting the family and not raising one type of family above others as is happening now.
    Due to my own real experience I will fight for the rights of children to be able to know and tell the Doctor about natural parents and I do expect to be fined for fighting for the rights of children, I do expect eventually to be sent to prison for fighting for the rights of children because children do not have a voice of their own.
    We still listen to what is said with respect.

    Our reading at Church was 1 Kings 18 (Elijah and the Priests of Baal) and I notice that the government, including the King and Queen, were on the side of the priest of Baal and continued to be so even after Elijah made truth clear to them.

    I value the listening and respect but it doesn’t mean I agree.

  22. Tim Jackson July 12, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    Thanks Ian for the original post and for all the clear thinking that your blog provides. Thanks, too, for providing such an open forum for debate.
    Can I ask all those that post replies to remember that people do read what they say – and will form general opinions about Christians as a result – opinions that go way beyond the specific issue under discussion. I know that this is an important topic and is very personal for many of those who post replies. However, I have just been reading some of Romans chapter 12: “Honour one another above yourselves” is just one quote I could give.
    Having read through all the comments in one go(!), I’m not sure that I would want to be a member of a congregation with some of the folk who post replies, nor that I’d be that keen on remaining a member of the same overall organisation.
    Please take care that in trying to prove you are ‘right’ you don’t do any damage to the cause you are defending – and I think that applies to both ‘sides’ – and in particular you don’t damage the church or fellow Christians either.

    • Tricia July 12, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

      Dear Tim
      There’s an old saying: “if you find a perfect church, don’t join as it won’t be perfect anymore”.
      Unfortunately for us God calls all these disparate people to be His body. I sometimes think He has a great sense of humour!
      As Ian has pointed out our unity is based on our belief in Scripture and the teachings of the church. When a major issue of doctrine arises we need to be real. The early church certainly had battles over Gnosticism and Arianism.

  23. Clive July 12, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    Tim,

    This is a place where we care for each other but it is a place of debate. Real debate. It is not actually a church.

  24. John July 12, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    Ian, do you agree with Cynthia that homosexuality was not the “sin of Sodom”?

    (Sorry for reposting this. I just wanted to make clear that I was addressing the question to you, Ian. I wasn’t sure if this would be clear, based on where my initial post appeared on the forum.)

  25. David Runcorn July 12, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

    Ian Can I just check one part of your post? That is to ask what basis John has for making public specific discussions and encounters with two unnamed people within the facilitated conversation he was part of – and that you here copy and draw conclusions from? Is this not a breach of the agreed process to do this? If the incident happened as reported (and that cannot actually be checked here can it?), then three things are clear. Firstly, as these are facilitated conversations the compliant against John should not have been accepted by the facilitator. Discussing across differences of opinion and experience are what these conversation are for. Secondly, the facilitator was completely wrong to make assumptions about what John actually meant by what he said without checking with him first. But thirdly, at this point we have only John’s experience and interpretation being reported here. I am in no way suggesting he is deliberately distorting anything but the other two people involved and those who were listening in the group cannot offer their experience or confirm or otherwise what was said or presumed to be meant by it. This is why facilitated conversations are needed. I know of one case where something similar happened. It was taken to a senior facilitator. As a result the process was clarified to the facilitator concerned. I think that is what should have happened here. Did it not? But I am not sure it is helpful to make public such a story, involving other people, outside of the process in which it happened and assume from it that the process is loaded against the conservative viewpoint. I have heard very positive general reports on the facilitated conversations so far from a people with a variety of viewpoints – some pleasantly surprised by the experiences and impressed with the quality of facilitating.

    • David Shepherd July 13, 2015 at 5:55 am #

      David,

      Ian Paul will have a far clearer understanding the ground rules governing the Shared Conversationa, but I’d be surprised if one of them prevents participants making public ‘specific discussions and encounters with unnamed people’.

      As a example, Changing Attitudes web-site has a Shared Conversations blog where contributors, who attended the various facilitated discussions, are doing this and attracting empathy, rather than any major censure for one-sided reporting.

      Thiis is an excerpt from Ruth Wilde’s post, reporting on her experiences at the East Midlands event (11th – 13th May):

      ‘We were talking in small groups about how we as a Church might take things forward. I said that (aside from my own wish to see people like me able to go forward for ordination and my hope that some priests might be allowed to at least perform same-sex marriage blessings in the future) the single most important issue for me was an urgent one: I wanted to see an end to people dying because of the Church’s attitudes. I explained that people suffer mental health problems, harm themselves, and sometimes kill themselves in this country, (without mentioning those who are killed by others in certain countries, egged on by the churches there).

      ‘Suddenly, this conservative evangelical man turned on me defensively and said ‘Well, my worry is that people are being harmed by being in same-sex relationships. I have seen people in my Church who have come to me and they are damaged because they’ve been in a same-sex relationship.’ At this comment, I saw red and said to him fairly angrily (but without raising my voice): ‘That is just not true is it? It is just not true.’ The mediator had to calm us down.’

      Of course, the unnamed conservative evangelical has no opportunity to confirm what was actually said. So, here’s a link to the CA blog:: http://changingattitude.org.uk/archives/8523 . You may wish to register similar misgivings there too.

      Kind regards,
      Dave

  26. David Runcorn July 13, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    Dave Wherever there is a point of principle or agreed process at issue the first responsibility is to ourselves. We can hardly complain others are ignoring the rules if we are doing the same.So ‘why can’t we tell stories – look they are’ is a poor argument in this context.

    But whether or not either story should have been made public the two are not the same actually. In the story on CA no complaint is made against one participant. The facilitator does not take sides or pre-judge or take action outside the group against an individual. Rather the story teller admits to ‘seeing red’ (‘without raising my voice’ – really? – that’s what we all think we never hear ourselves speaking can we? That is why we need facilitators). Both sides heated up and both were encouraged to calm down. It all stayed within the group. That sounds like good process. But finally the story on CA is not being being told as evidence towards a wider concern that these conversations are loaded towards certain outcomes and that certain viewpoints are not being allowed full expression.

    • Ian Paul July 13, 2015 at 10:02 am #

      David, I don’t think John’s concern is the only time this has been expressed. The other reflections on the EGGS website suggest similar things.

      There has been no breaking of confidentiality in naming people (though the two accounts make interesting reading together!) and I am not aware of anyone in the facilitation process raising concerns about any of these accounts.

      I think the set-up of the groups, and the accounts that have come out, all point to the fact that the conversations themselves leant in a particular direction. If no-one involved is allowed to point this out, we really are back in 1984…and I don’t see how that helps anyone.

      • Christine Quinn-Jones July 13, 2015 at 10:19 am #

        And thank you for pointing it out, Ian!

      • Ian Paul July 13, 2015 at 11:10 am #

        I should point out that John’s complaint was not against the other participant…it was against the attempt to silence his perspective.

    • David Shepherd July 14, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

      David,

      You said: ‘Wherever there is a point of principle or agreed process at issue the first responsibility is to ourselves’.

      Agreed. So, I went and read Protocol 3 for myself.

      ‘We encourage participants, when possible, to openly share knowledge and understanding gained from being part of this space.

      We expect participants to be free to use any information received, but neither the identity nor affiliation of the speaker, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

      We require that participants refrain from exploiting others with whom they have shared this space by misuse of what has been learnt.

      ‘Making public specific discussions and encounters with two unnamed people within the facilitated conversation he was part of’ neither shares the identity, nor affiliation of the anonymous participant and facilitator..

      And even for Ian to ‘copy and draw conclusions from it’ is merely using the information received. Ian’s piece really isn’t exploitative and it doesn’t violate the spirit of the agreed process.

      Exonerating the CA contributor on the basis that ‘no complaint was made against one participant’ really doesn’t bear scrutiny. She named the affiliation of her interlocutor (conservative evangelical) and thereby violated Protocol 3.

      Then again, maybe we should all realise how fraught this process can be and provide some latitude for personal discretion in applying these rules.

      Regardless of specific rules, I’m pretty much only interested in discovering whatever insights that can be shared from the FCs, including the participants’ personal observations and experiences.

      John really doesn’t have to be ‘on message’ or remain mum on the process itself.

  27. David Runcorn July 13, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    Hi Ian John’s story and your use of it highlighted the problem when this process is breached and a problem is taken out of the context where it belongs and could be responded to and is made public i this way. We have no way of coming to a judgment on what has happened actually.
    The St Michael’s House protocols the FC’s are based on do say:
    ‘We expect participants to be free to use any information received, but neither the identity nor affiliation of the speaker, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
    We require that participants refrain from exploiting others with whom they have shared this space by misuse of what has been learnt’.
    If I was in charge of such a conversation process I would be in no doubt that the use of this story breaches the spirit of these guidelines. How can such conversations remain safe places if any participant could take a story to social media and told it from their point of view?

    I do not sure your suspicion of the process Ian, and your claim that ‘the accounts that have come out, all point to the fact that the conversations themselves leant in a particular direction’ is sweeping generalisation. The story is more mixed – and is that not surprising, the stakes are high for all concerned. But as I said I am hearing much more positive feedback – and from people surprised to be able to speak in such terms.

  28. Jane Newsham July 15, 2015 at 12:03 am #

    What a thrilling debate!

    I note that several commenters mention Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 and I feel compelled to add my tuppenyworth on this one.

    3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
    4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
    I dare to amplify (so, sue me):
    “Haven’t you read (you Pharisees, all of you men and all of you holding the belief that men are sons of God and women are daughters of men. You Pharisees, all of you men, who regard women as property, as commodities, as ‘white goods’ which you are free to keep or discard, to upgrade or to scrap)
    …. that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female (yes, you heard me correctly – even these ‘commodities’ are made by the Creator, so that really does mean male AND FEMALE he created them, women are no less than men in the Creator’s eyes, and he sees how they are treated and abused, how they are diminished and disparaged, and how you divorce them at a whim, at your convenience, for your own self-serving motives).
    Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate (God blesses marriage, even when you treat your wives shamefully, when you disrespect them, when you plot to discard them….God blesses faithfulness and commitment and mutual respect)”
    Jesus is responding to the Pharisees’ question on divorce and in so doing, makes a point about the equal made-in-the-image-of-God-ness of women. Once again, he seeks to defend the weak, give voice to the voiceless, empower the powerless in the face of the abusive powerful, and to include the marginalised from a place of exclusion and diminishment.
    He is no more talking about opposite-sex marriage versus same-sex marriage than he is talking about the prospective marriages of organics and synthetics (another debate, another century, but see ‘Humans’ on Channel 4, Sunday nights, if you want to get ahead of the curve).
    To suggest that Matthew 19 indicates that Jesus opposes same-sex marriage is an abomination. We don’t twist Jesus words out of context to support a particular viewpoint – especially a viewpoint that seeks to deny rights and blessings to others who are just as made-in-the-image-of-God as we are. Jesus’ approach to marriage is very different to that of the Pharisees (both then and now).

    • Tricia July 15, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

      The male and female component is totally clear in this passage and can in no way relate to people of the same sex. The two become one flesh, which is consummation as noted in the Marriage Act 2014. The Government had to find a way around this to allow same sex marriage and the Act states that a same sex couple cannot consummate, but are married, a heterosexual couple must consummate or they are not married. It also states that
      a same sex couple cannot commit adultery. Therefore, it may be the law of the land but it is not marriage as God intended. Eg NOT male and female, CANNOT consummate, CANNOT commit adultery. Jesus mentions all these elements.

      I do agree that it is empowering for women. Jesus redressed the balance in women’s favour:
      1. You can only have 1 wife for life
      2. He makes the physical act of union (consummation) the only reason for divorce (which exemplifies the importance of consummation)

      The Jewish man was in the habit of trading in the old model for a new model regularly. All they had to do was say to their wife “I divorce you” three times and the job was done. Even though the OT says “do not abandon the wife of your youth” and Hosea shows us true faithfulness. Moses had given them divorce because they were so hard to teach. You can tell their dismay by the reaction. “If this is the situation between man and wife, it is better not to marry”.
      Jesus defines Christian marriage in which a man is called to be responsible for his wife and of course the results of this physical union, their children. This is the Christian family. The genealogically connected unit that has been the building block of society. This is not a woman who can be discarded when it suits the male.
      Her also goes on to say who cannot marry. Eunuchs – those who cannot consummate. Eunuchs whether born that way or made that way. A same sex couple represent eunuch as they cannot consummate. And then he mentions those who remain celibate in God’s service.

  29. Christine Quinn-Jones July 15, 2015 at 1:36 am #

    Hi, Jane,

    ‘Amplify’?
    Well, that’s one way of describing it.
    ‘To amplify’ means ‘to increase the volume of (sound)’. In the case of a song, this does not entail changing the words and the music.
    But you know that.
    You must do.

    When Jesus was asked about marriage and he replied that ‘ a man will be united to his wife’, he was referring to a female when he said the word ‘wife’ and it has never occurred to me that he might have expected his listeners to infer that ‘wife’ could, on occasions, also refer to a male.
    If I had thought that Matthew 19:5,6 was a parable, I might have searched for a ‘hidden meaning’, but it has never occurred to me that it might be a parable. It is a straight answer to a not-so-straight question which was designed to trip Jesus up, an answer which contains no literary devices such as metaphors and similes. I know that Jesus used figurative language on many occasions, but I don’t think that this was one such occasion – I think that Jesus meant what he actually said. If you want to think otherwise, that is up to you, but…oh, Jane!

    Christine

  30. Clive July 15, 2015 at 6:20 am #

    Dear Jane

    I agree with Christine.

    Jesus is asked if men can divorce for any and every reason.

    That is shockingly casual but how it was done. To say why men can’t enact divorce for any and every reason Jesus defines marriage.

    The idea that same sex marriage can be a couple becoming ONE is not true. Only a man and a woman can become one. Therefore marriage in Jesus’ words really is between a man and a woman. He says so.

    It is not a comment on same sex relationships but it really is an answer to what is marriage.

    • Christine Quinn-Jones July 15, 2015 at 9:30 am #

      Hi Clive,
      Thank you for putting this so well. I realise that I need to amend my phrase ‘when Jesus was asked about marriage..’ to ‘when Jesus was asked about divorce…’

      • Clive July 15, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

        Jesus’ reply was his understanding of marriage. His understanding of marriage is the same elsewhere in the gospels. Mark 10: 6-9 and so on.

        Jesus’ answer is entirely truthful.

  31. Jane Newsham July 16, 2015 at 11:35 pm #

    Bless you all for your comments here. But if Jesus’ response to the Pharisees defines marriage in any way (and I suggest that it has more to say about divorce and women’s status in society) then he defines marriage as a relationship between men and women on more equal terms than had been accepted previously. But there is no evidence that Jesus was intending to make a point about same-sex marriage (either for or against) and to suggest that Jesus opposes the extension of rights, freedoms and blessings for people appears jarringly inconsistent with what we know about him from the Gospel accounts. There’s nothing new here – just my frustration at a particular interpretation of Jesus’ response which seems at odds with the whole expression of his ministry.
    Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, men and women are still free to marry each other, nothing has deprived them of this facility. However, the law allows same-sex couples to marry and the committed-to-marriage nature of their relationships won’t have escaped Jesus’ notice (if he knows the numbers of hairs on their heads, I’m pretty sure he knows how committed-to-marriage they are) and thankfully, we are all eventually accountable to him rather than to each other.

    • Tricia July 17, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

      Dear Jane
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
      I totally concur with Clive. Jesus is God Incarnate, he has the word of life.
      Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

      To understand Genesis is to know God’s love for humanity. He gives man and woman a share in creation. Man carries the ability to instigate life and woman carries the precious egg and the capacity to nurture prior to birth and after. The act of instigating life is to be in love and respect and commitment to what will be the family.

      As Deborah Salmon has written on the Fulcrum website, the church from its very birth has taught of the purpose and special nature of the sexual act. Over the last 40 years the western church has become compromised and affected by the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. God does not change, mankind does and at the heart of mankind is rebellion to God’s will. Accepting Christ as Lord of your life is not easy. There is a process of denying yourself, picking up your cross and following.
      God bless

  32. Clive July 17, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    Dear Jane

    Jesus quoted Genesis so his words are for all time.

    For a same sex couple to become one, quite simply cannot be done.
    Jesus seems to care about the natural family and cares about the natural family a lot.

    To say that men cannot be allowed to divorce women “…for any and every reason” is consistent with his ministry, is counter-cultural and means that he cares about the family.

    Jesus’ words to the woman at the well were truthful … it was not accepting of her lifestyle and wanting to somehow bless it and celebrate it, but he did care about the person enough to be entirely truthful and tell her what was actually hurting her when she mistakenly thought her lifestyle, whilst counter-cultural, was fine. So Jesus didn’t want to hurt the person. The Church cannot celebrate same sex marriage because it is not marriage and, simultaneously, doesn’t want to hurt the people whilst wanting to support and celebrate the natural family.

    The phrase that you use (“Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, …”) implies that Jesus’ words, for you, are something in the past and not relevant to the present.

    I don’t agree.
    Jesus words are true and, if true, are for always.

  33. Christine Quinn-Jones July 17, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    Hi Jane,
    I say amen to what Clive has written in his post above ( 17-07-2015).
    I also want to add, in response to your comment that we are accountable to ‘him’ rather than to each other: Jesus told us to love our neighbour as ourselves, and I believe that loving our neighbours includes being accountable to each other.

  34. Benedict Atkins July 24, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    Thanks as always, Ian. Your ministry of scholarship serving ministry is much appreciated.

    Benedict

  35. Steve T October 18, 2015 at 12:58 am #

    Is it the case that vast swathes of the church are literally apostasising? Departing from the truth, and falling under the influence of ‘seducing spirits’ & ‘doctrines of demons’ (1 Tim 4:1)?

    Are we seeing ‘children of disobedience’ (Eph 2:2), ‘going out from us because they are not of us’ (1 Jn 2:9), as they follow the prince of this world in his mutiny against God and his created order & righteousness?

    Is this a case of the true saints of God, born of the Holy Spirit, facing persecution from false brethren?

    We do right, surely, to follow the Master, and obey Jesus. He warned his people in the church of Thyatira, to repent of tolerating the prophetess Jezebel, who taught his servants to commit sexual immorality. That they would be judged if they did not cease this aberrant activity…

    So hold fast, and teach the truth brother. But those of a different spirit will likely not want to hear.

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