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What same-sex marriage brings with it

romeEarlier this week, the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland decided to recognise and accept the ministry of clergy in same-sex marriages, as a logical extension to its previous decision to accept those in civil partnerships. (A rather odd article in the Telegraph followed, which suggested this was a ‘model’ for the C of E, as if there were a connection between the C of E and the non-episcopal Church of Scotland, and as if this was the first Christian church to recognise and affirm same-sex marriages).

David Robertson, current Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, used the Church’s own language of ‘crossing a Rubicon’ to describe the move. I suppose many readers would see his reaction as predictable, since he is coming from a much more conservative position theologically. But he highlights some important issues in the debate. He argues that ‘The Church of Scotland has removed itself from the Bible’ but also that ‘The Church of Scotland has cut itself of from most of the worldwide church’:

The Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical churches are opposed to SSM. Both the Presbyterian Church of Ireland and the Australian Presbyterian Church warned there would be consequences, but to no avail.

But he also pointed out the inconsistency of the decision in relation to the definition of marriage itself. On the one hand, the clerk to the General Assembly, Very Rev John Chalmers, said:

We had a debate which made very clear that we were not interfering with our theological definition of marriage and were not going to the place where ministers or deacons could themselves conducting same sex marriages.

Robertson observes:

The Church of Scotland will legislate for Same Sex Marriage (and indeed whatever other marriage our society says should be) within a couple of years. They cannot have the situation where ministers can be same sex married, but cannot marry people in the church. Who marries the ministers? A report on marriage will be given next year.

Robertson also notes the continued declines in attendance of the C of S—something other churches are experiencing, though not perhaps to the same degree.

They are continuing to lose the equivalent of one church per week. Almost 15,000 members this year alone. My own city of Dundee saw 500 members lost in one year. 500. That’s two churches. But the blinkers are well and truly on.


51c9c9729b38fThe Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC, no relation) is also planning to discuss the issue this summer, and all the signs are that the decision will go in the same direction. Professor Oliver O’Donovan has offered a very detailed critique of the position paper published in preparation for this; for 24 years he was Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford, then moved to New College, Edinburgh from 2006 to 2013, and now has a licence for ministry in the SEC. Although his style and approach is very different from David Robertson’s, it is striking in the areas where they have overlapping concerns. (At nearly 7,000 words, it is a long read, and it is therefore worth downloading the PDF.)

O’Donovan begins by highlighting the importance of the issue, and the way that considerations about same-sex marriage quickly lead to a re-evaluation of a whole host of other issues, many of which come close to the question of the identity of the church itself.

The issues now at stake, which were large enough ten years ago, are now infinitely greater: disagreements, which have been extended by the arrival of the so-called “equal marriage” on the secular statute-books, now spread out, like a Canadian wildfire, from the sphere of ethics into the sphere of doctrine, and threaten the catholic identity of the church.

Within this ‘catholic identity’, he describes the inter-related roles of Scripture, tradition and reason (though not as the popular but mistaken ‘three-legged stool’).

Scripture is the primary authority, the repository of the saving deeds and words of God, which demand our belief and obedience, but obedience must take form as thoughtful action (Reason), not handed over to irrational, spasmodic reactions to words from which the sense has departed, and it must be discovered in community with other Christians (Tradition), not handed over to the partial perceptions of our own limited angle of vision. (p 1)


O’Donovan goes on to consider these three elements, in the order ‘tradition’, ‘Scripture’ and ‘reason’, and finds the statement of the SEC seriously wanting in all three areas.

The “catholicity” Anglicans have claimed…requires a consciousness of history, willing to take bearings from the experience and reflection of earlier Christians, extending them to meet our current questions rather than start afresh. But there is also a contemporary awareness involved, an openness to the wider community of Christian contemporaries, who will come to the same questions from different angles of vision. About this contemporary dimension we shall not have much to say in what follows, since the document itself says very little about it. We cannot pass it by, however, without observing that its striking silence about the various initiatives of the Anglican Communion to handle the question it has in hand is hardly innocent. (p 2)

O’Donovan sees the understanding of doctrine in the SEC paper as limiting it to its liturgy, so that a change in liturgy simply effects a change in doctrine.

The implications of this view are very startling. Though the Scottish Episcopal Church may confess itself to “believe one holy, catholic and apostolic church”, no role at all is allowed to the tradition of the catholic church in establishing Scottish doctrine. Beliefs which every member of the church, perhaps, has supposed the Scottish church to affirm are summarily discarded: the Chalcedonian Formula of Christ’s person as “truly man and truly God”, for instance, and even the claim of Canon 1 that the Scottish church is “a branch of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.”

Never, perhaps, has the Scottish Episcopal Church been offered an account of its doctrinal basis so wholly shrunken to the mould of radical Protestantism. (p 3)

The treatment of Scripture fares no better; O’Donovan sees the discussion of biblical texts reductionist at every point.

If a passage of the New Testament discussing marriage has some contextual reason for doing so, it is to be treated as not discussing marriage at all. So Jesus, speaking of marriage in connexion with the divorce-debate of his day, does not speak of marriage, only of divorce. Paul, speaking of marriage while urging the eschatological value of the single life, is not speaking about marriage but about eschatology. It goes without saying that Paul’s most famous remarks on homosexuality in Romans 1 are not speaking about homosexuality, but about the relation of Jewish and Gentile cultures. And so on. In each of these cases the identification of the contextual interest is perfectly correct. What is arbitrary is the assumption that Jesus and Paul are incapable of making a connexion between one thing and another, and meaning what they say! All moves made by Jesus or Paul towards joined-up thinking are to be dismissed as ad hominem chop-logic. (p 6)

All of which leads to the remarkable conclusion, by no means uncongenial to its anti-sacramental bias, that the only biblical text about marriage on which the Committee feels confident in leaning its weight is the saying of Jesus in Matthew 22:30 that there is no marrying in heaven. From where it is only a small step, though the Committee does not take it, to conclude with most radical Protestantism that since marriage is wholly confined to this world, the State had better be left to manage it as it thinks fit, while the Church concentrates on higher things. It is not surprising, perhaps, that the Committee, having established a purely legal criterion for accepting elements of tradition, has ended up treating Scripture in a legal way, simply as a set of constraints to be evaded rather than a teaching to be made sense of. (p 7)


The most surprising element of the argument is O’Donovan’s critique of ‘reason’. He picks out three examples of the way that the possible options for a way forward are considered, and highlights their incoherence.

These three examples (and they are not the only ones) demonstrate the incapacity of the Committee’s back-to-front method to make any sense of the disagreement within the Anglican churches. It is equally unjust to both sides of the argument, for with Option A assigned the role of upholding all the out-of-date assumptions, Option B that of correcting every misunderstanding, neither position appears as a joined-up piece of reasoning leading to a conclusion. And there is something of greater seriousness to be said: the tendency of the presentation is to amplify division. (p 9)

In the end, the approach of the paper is that our attitude to same-sex marriage is an all-or-nothing issue—whereas O’Donovan wants to entertain the idea that there might be other ways forward which at least deserve consideration.

So the sum of the “reasoning” that it had to offer to the Scottish Synod is this:- It’s an all-or-nothing decision. You can take an initiative to care for the needs of gay couples, or you can keep faith with the doctrines of the universal church, but you cannot do both. But is the alternative really so exclusive? There is every reason to doubt it….If an Anglican church is convinced of the need to provide new support for same-sex couples, can it find a way of imagining that innovation that will not result in a shipwreck of its identity? If it cannot, it hardly matters what others will think of what it does or does not make up its mind to do, for it has given up the attempt to be true to itself. (p 11).


Both the briefer analysis of the Church of Scotland decision, and this full assessment of the SEC paper, suggest that things go seriously wrong in the quest to justify same-sex marriage within Christian theology and ethics. Something of the same process can be seen in the current situation of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia (ACANZP) according to Andrew Goddard’s analysis:

It is clear that in coming years in a number of Anglican provinces, including the Church of England, there will be pressure to seek to find a way that authorizes practices (especially in relation to ordination and public rites) that embody the belief that same-sex sexual unions are consonant with Scripture, while maintaining unimpaired communion under Scripture and doctrine with those who believe such unions are contrary to Scripture. The report’s ultimate lack of consistency speaks eloquently, if unknowingly, to this problem: it gives strong supporting evidence that it is simply impossible to reconcile these two positions with any theological or ecclesiological coherence, especially if one is also committed to uphold the Christian doctrine of marriage in a society that rejects it and accepts same-sex marriage.


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40 Responses to What same-sex marriage brings with it

  1. Eric May 25, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks for that Ian. It makes interesting reading, especially here in NZ. I found Oliver’s critique of the Church of Scotland’s paper resonant as much if not all of his commentary might be equally levelled at the ‘A way forward’ document which was left in the table for another two years by our General Synod a couple of weeks ago, parked largely because it consummately failed the ‘two integrates test, that is failing to square the circle which Andrew focused on in his commentary on AWF.

    • Ian Paul May 25, 2016 at 10:51 am #

      Thanks, Eric. I was most struck by his critique of the reductionist appeal to the Scriptural texts; given there is so much debate on the minutiae, I think he is right to ask ‘What view of marriage did Paul and Jesus have which could have led them to make the comments they do?’

      • Andrew Godsall May 26, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

        “I think he is right to ask ‘What view of marriage did Paul and Jesus have which could have led them to make the comments they do?’”

        In other words – “what did they think then that made them write/say what they did?”
        It’s the crucial systematic theology question.

  2. Peter Ould May 25, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    Once again we see how theologically shallow the revisionist arguments are, how they have to mutilate Scripture, Tradition and (ironically) even Reason and Experience in order to push their agenda. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so spiritually serious.

    • Mat Sheffield May 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      Perhaps laughter is the correct response, Peter?. Laughter has the power to disarm, to cut to the truth of a matter, to bring things out into the open and to bring attention to something. It is a powerful tool in the right hands. Should we perhaps be more ready to show foolish arguments and interpretations for what they are, should we be more ready to laugh than we are?

      In many previous posts Ian has made the point that in using technical language and in keeping the debate ‘academic’ a lot of it’s vital meaning and nuance remains hidden to the general public.

      Would it not be more effective (and more widely understood by people) to publicly laugh an idea/proposal into submission than to take carefully aimed shots from behind a wall of carefully constructed analysis and counter-exegesis.

      • Andrew Godsall May 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

        “Would it not be more effective (and more widely understood by people) to publicly laugh an idea/proposal into submission…”

        One of the problems, Peter and Mat, is that the C of E has already basically said that if you are a lay person, then you can, in conscience, take a different view on this and must not be subject to church discipline or indeed scrutiny in advance of baptism, confirmation, communion….and maybe more. How long can the C of E go on saying lay people can be Christians and full members of the church without realising that clergy actually come from the laity…….

        • Matt Sheffield May 26, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

          Hi Andrew. I was suggesting, slightly tongue-in-cheek admittedly, that perhaps some arguments (or methods of argument) actually deserve laughter and derision from the theological community, rather than to be taken so very seriously by everyone, especially if they are tired and well-worn or widely discredited. {In case it wasn’t clear, I meant to aim this at both sides of the SSM debate}

          You seem to be saying that the wider problem with the CofE is basically that as a lay person you can believe what you want, as you can’t in reality ever be tested/asked to justify your position (however relevant it may be at the time) and therefore, because the clergy usually come from the laity, the same is true of them also….

          I don’t disagree, but I’m not sure what you’re saying in relation to the points above?

          • Andrew Godsall May 26, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

            Hi Mat

            Thanks for clarifying that the laughter/derision remarks apply to both sides of the debate. I certainly find some of the stuff that appears on Anglican Ink and Stand Firm and Titus ONe NINe laughable in the extreme.

            I am not saying laity can believe what they want. I am saying that the House of Bishops has made it abundantly clear that laity may, in consience, enter in to same sex relationships of a sexual nature without fear of people like Ian asking intrusive questions. That’s the issue in human sexuality that is at stake here.

          • Matt Sheffield May 26, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

            Thanks for clarifying also.

            I think with hindsight the reason I was confused is because I missed your qualifier “….take a different view on this…..”. Had I noticed you were keeping it in this context (rather than making a general observation) I wouldn’t have quoted you in that way. The same is true of the comment I made below, making it unnecessary now. My apologies in both cases.

        • Brian May 29, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

          And what if you are a licensed Reader in a same sex marriage? Is there any notional discipline or policy on this?

          • Clive May 30, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

            A licensed Reader is a Minister of the Church as the Archbishopric of York showed. As a Minister of the Church you are fully expected to uphold the doctrine of the Church, you can fight it from within if you wish, or resign and fight it openly. What you cannot do is just ignore the doctrine of the Church and do your own thing.

    • Blair May 27, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

      Hello,

      could we tweak that to read, “how theologically shallow *these* revisionist arguments are”? I would suggest that other (better) arguments are available… those from Rowan Williams, James Alison, Gareth Moore OP, Rabbi Steven Greenberg for example. It’s a loss to many that they have received relatively little attention.

      in friendship, Blair

  3. gill May 25, 2016 at 11:37 am #

    I find myself deeply suspicious of polarising arguments. They mean not only that nuance is lost, which reduces truth: they also bring about division.

  4. Jonathan Tallon May 25, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    I haven’t yet read the report from the SEC. But it would not surprise me greatly if parts of it were either simplistic or poor, not because it comes from the SEC, but because I have read a large number of poor reports from official church bodies (and others) on this topic, from both sides of the debate.

    To claim that one side leads to distortions and the other doesn’t reads like special pleading. Ian has other posts critiquing a hierarchical model of the Trinity which I have seen associated with ‘traditional’ arguments for marriage. I don’t therefore assume that all ‘traditional’ arguments naturally lead to heresy.

    • Peter Ould May 25, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

      You only end up with hierarchical models of the Trinity when you try to make complementarianism integral to your opposition to same-sex marriage. That’s the error of the conservative Evangelical position on this issue.

  5. Phill May 25, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    Thanks very much Ian – I completely agree with you and O’Donovan. I find it interesting to look at examples where churches and individuals have moved towards affirming same-sex marriage. Invariably it is correlated with moving away from orthodoxy in many areas, not just this one. This is the case in every example I can think of. I have never yet met anyone who is theologically orthodox on everything except marriage.

    Just this morning I was preaching on 2 Corinthians 4 which talks about people who “distort the word of God”. If you begin by distorting the word of God, everything else will crumble.

    • James Byron May 26, 2016 at 12:28 am #

      “Invariably it is correlated with moving away from orthodoxy in many areas, not just this one.”

      Of course, Phill, since “orthodoxy” is often synonymous with tradition, and if you’re of the mindset to challenge tradition, it’ll happen across the board.

      Catholics and Orthodox frequently point out that the Protestant churches’ innovation in other areas (women’s ministry, divorce, contraception, abortion etc) precedes innovation in sexuality.

      Evangelicals of course rebut that orthodoxy isn’t primarily tradition, but is rooted in scripture, which can be used to overturn tradition: problem with using the Bible as the ultimate authority is that there’s no way to control how it’s read. Absent a magisterium, interpretation’s as open to innovation as the most radical liberalism.

      Pitfall of having a paper pope.

      • Don Benson May 26, 2016 at 9:56 am #

        Tradition itself is no argument for anything; unquestioning acceptance of it amounts to outsourcing your thinking to previous generations of (fallible) thinkers. But the reasoning behind tradition (if that reasoning is clearly evident) may contribute to one’s argument.

        On the other hand orthodoxy, which is an understanding that has been widely accepted over time and remains so, is strong evidence in its own right but of course cannot be taken as beyond challenge, a) again because of fallibility, b) because of new evidence or a more complete understanding.

        Which indeed means that we cannot avoid revisiting almost anything and that those who are in strong agreement with (most) of protestant orthodoxy cannot opt out from engaging in the argument if they want it to remain as it is. Of course evangelicals will always test and defend orthodoxy ultimately against scripture because they believe it to be uniquely from God – that’s their position – and scripture doesn’t change. But they always have to be honest about what scripture actually says and humble where not every ‘evangelical’ mantra is supported!

      • Phill May 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

        James, you yourself are in agreement that the Bible is clear about same-sex marriage, aren’t you? So interpretation isn’t really an issue here, both ‘sides’ understand that the Bible is unequivocal in its condemnation of same-sex sexual practice. I think you would actually agree with me that you need to distort the Bible massively in order to affirm it. If you’re going to distort it to that degree, everything else will fall.

        The Church of England doesn’t have a magisterium but it does have an agreed understanding of Scripture which is enshrined in the articles, BCP and canon law.

        I actually agree with you (to a point) on women’s ministry. And look how much friction that has caused in the church! The other things you mention are not really innovations as far as I can tell.

        Many ‘progressive’ evangelicals (whatever you call them), such as Steve Chalke, don’t just move on minor or contentious issues – *everything* is up for grabs: the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, the nature of God, the atonement, even the nature of salvation itself. I’m not sure whether Chalke believes in heaven/hell or takes a universalist view now, but it wouldn’t surprise me. In other words, ‘evangelicals’ who affirm SSM tend to end up liberals.

        • James Byron May 26, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

          Yes, I combine an affirming postion with agreement that the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality, but mine is a minority position, possible only if you subscribe to theological liberalism: the vast majority in the affirming camp do try to interpret the verses away; and certainly accepting evangelicals.

          • Peter Ould May 27, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

            It’s the majority liberal academic position though. Most well educated liberal scholars are clear the revisionist position isn’t supported by Scripture.

          • Andrew Godsall May 28, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

            And most well educated scholars, liberal or not, are clear that the bible is jmot infallible and is culturally conditioned. And most well educated scholars see that the scriptural proscriptions around homosexuality are to do with specific circumstances at specific times. And most well educated scholars understand that scripture is one part of a theological framework. Even if it is of supreme importance.
            So it is fine to say, as James does, that scripture can’t be made to say things it doesn’t say. I agree. But that’s only half the story.

          • Ian Paul May 30, 2016 at 11:37 am #

            Is there any reason why Christian doctrine should be formed by ‘well educated scholars’? You seem to treat these as gospel for some inexplicable reason…

          • Andrew Godsall May 30, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

            What an odd response! Do you want Christian doctrine to be formed by badly educated scholars?

          • Ian Paul May 30, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

            No, I want Christian doctrine informed by well-educated Christian scholars. Some well educated scholars are atheists, or anti-Christian, or in thrall to Kantian epistemology. Just because something is said by a well-educated scholar, doesn’t make it good Christian doctrine.

            I am struggling to see what is odd in thinking that.

          • Andrew Godsall May 31, 2016 at 9:23 am #

            And it’s well known that well educated Christian scholars take different views on this issue – hence the debate.

  6. Andrew Godsall May 26, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    Ian: “(A rather odd article in the Telegraph followed, which suggested this was a ‘model’ for the C of E, as if there were a connection between the C of E and the non-episcopal Church of Scotland, and as if this was the first Christian church to recognise and affirm same-sex marriages)”

    Well I think the Telegraph article suggested that because a: it was a new approach to the problem of settlement, and the C of E needs some new models as it approaches the time when it has to make some decision about things itself and b: the C of Scotland and C of England are ‘national’ churches – so there are similarities we can bear in mind.

    Phill: “The Church of England doesn’t have a magisterium but it does have an agreed understanding of Scripture which is enshrined in the articles, BCP and canon law.”

    That is ONE understanding of scripture which comes from the ‘historic formularies’ and tells us what people thought in the 16th/17th Century. Even though it may be the ‘official’ line, it’s very clear that the 19th century in particular brought with it completely different understandings of scripture and authorship and they need to weighed alongside the historic formularies. The historic formularies are not the only line taught by universities and/or theological colleges. They teach a much broader approach.

    • Phill May 26, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

      Andrew, I appreciate that we clergy swear allegiance to the ‘historic formularies’ – but our faith is still revealed in the holy scriptures, set forth in the catholic creeds, to which the historic formularies bear witness. To say that it’s ONE understanding of scripture is, I think, a little disingenuous. I don’t expect us to agree on that, but there is nothing ‘on paper’ to disagree with my position.

      Either way, the entire reason we’re having this discussion now is because the church has realised all of a sudden that it does indeed have a clear doctrine of marriage (Canon B30, “according to our Lord’s teaching…”). How we move forward is, of course, the question, and this is where I think O’Donovan’s article was helpful in outlining some of the issues we face.

      • Andrew Godsall May 26, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

        Phill

        Nothing I have said – or indeed ever would say – suggests that our faith is NOT revealed in the scriptures etc. Of course it’s revealed in the scriptures. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s word – God’s word being his son Jesus Christ, not the bible.

        The problem that O’Donovan misses – as I outlined above – is that the C of E has already basically said that if you are a lay person, then you can, in conscience, take a different view on this and must not be subject to church discipline or indeed scrutiny in advance of baptism, confirmation, communion….and maybe more. Clergy were once laity………some of us are bound to take a different view. We need some settlement of this issue.

        • Ian Paul May 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

          Andrew, this is a good example of the way that I think you twist words out of meaning, and depart from Anglican understanding.

          As ordained clergy, we are called to affirm our faith *uniquely* revealed in the Holy Scriptures. That means that the Scriptures don’t just contain some good ideas that we can add to—they are *the* repository of Christian faith, so cannot be added to at some later date.

          This is (to borrow your phrase) pretty basic stuff.

          And the C of E has *not* said that laity can believe what they like in this area; Issue in Sexuality simply said that conformity to the teaching of the Church is not required of laity to the extent that it *is* required of clergy.

          • Andrew Godsall May 26, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

            Ian: of course there is a uniqueness about the scriptures. But what is more important, the word that they bear witness to, or the word itself, hmm? I think it was John Bell who once observed that some branches of the church think Paul is the real deal, and Jesus was just some minor prophet.

            Let’s record accurately what the bishops say shall we?

            “Issues in Human Sexuality made it clear that, while the same standards apply to all, the Church did not want to exclude from its fellowship those lay people of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and instead chose to enter into a faithful, committed relationship. ‘The House considers that lay people who have registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and communion.”

            So that’s how I encourage people to order their lives – according to their conscience. Does that satisfy you?

          • Matt Sheffield May 26, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

            And the C of E has *not* said that laity can believe what they like in this area; Issue in Sexuality simply said that conformity to the teaching of the Church is not required of laity to the extent that it *is* required of clergy.

            Andrew wasn’t explicitly quoting the church, but saying that in practice and principle this is true. I don’t think the CofE has stated “you can believe what you like”, but if it’s not an idea that’s enforced, upheld, pursued or widely held, then to all intents and purposes they might as well have said it.

          • Ian Paul May 30, 2016 at 11:18 pm #

            And yet the document says ‘the same standard is expected of all’.

            And I ask again: since you are *not* a lay person, do you conform your life to the teaching of the Church that the bishops have expressed in Issues, and in last year’s pastoral letter; in this respect do you uphold your ordination vows, and do you encourage others to do the same?

          • Andrew Godsall May 31, 2016 at 9:18 am #

            Thanks Ian – it shows that we are probably a ‘both/and’ church after all doesn’t it? I think I already indicated that I conform it to the teaching expressed in the pastoral statement that I quoted.
            Do you may enquiries of lay people in same sex marriages about their personal lives, or refuse them the sacraments? Or do you leave the matter to their conscience, as the bishops pastoral teaches us to do?

        • Ian Paul May 26, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

          (So I assume that, keeping your ordination vows, you live in accordance with the Church’s teaching and encourage others to do the same, even if you think that teaching should change?)

  7. John Gilmartin May 26, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

    Gentlemen (no women have commented),
    Why do you relish this discussion? Would Jesus conduct these marriages? Peter? Paul? Luther? Cranmer? Knox? Calvin? Would Mary attend the receptions? Probably, and so do I.

    My wife won’t send my grandsons to Sunday school because the leader is gay, and she feels uncomfortable with it. My wife is not a bigot or unsophisticated, she’s uncomfortable.

    My diocesan clergy were agitating for gay marriage, Big Principals ‘were at stake!’ New bishop arrives and says ‘ok, on one condition, you clergy must review the proposed marriage with your congregation, and obtain their approval before proceeding.’

    Guess what learned scholars? This passionately debated ‘issue’ has seemed to disappear! Your bewildered sheep don’t want this, they find it odd, hard to discuss, and wonder instead about the values of their clergy. These same indignant ‘stakeholders’ (wretched word) desperate for commitment are now strangely silent. To my knowledge none of them have approached their congregations. What is their behavior saying?

    Men who sleep with men will continue. It is none of my business. Is it yours? Really? This energy draining battle is now 40 years old. Will you still have a church when you decide to move on? Thank you, John

    • Clive May 26, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

      John,

      If there was only a modicum of truth to what you have said then it wouldn’t even begin to explain why so many are leaving those Churches and going to Orthodox Christian Churches as is happening around the world.

  8. Jamie Wood May 26, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    What is the blood-and-gore painting / image that accompanies this blog post?

    • Ian Paul May 26, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

      Someone famous crossing a Rubicon…!

      • Jamie Wood May 26, 2016 at 11:19 pm #

        It’s “Caesar” by Adolphe Yvon, painted in 1875. http://the-masters.pixels.com/featured/caesar-adolphe-yvon.html Interestingly the original was painted with an aspect ratio of 1.8 to 1 and somebody has rotated the original image 1 or 2 degrees counterclockwise, as can be seen from the white stripe at the bottom right; then cropped it down to become 1.42 to 1.

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