Sunday, August 22, 2010

Apparently congratulations are in order ...

... a leading voice in the Anglican Communion is engaged. (H/T others ... I am the last to know these things!)

38 comments:

Andy S said...

Serving the Church is about putting our desires and needs last and the Church and other people first.

How can the Church be served by this? Its an action sure to upset many of the Faithful (furthering division) and to bring hoots of derision from those who loath the Church and love to see her hurt.

Tolerance is all well and good but blessing sin, human vanity and foolishness isn't tolerance.

It is a woeful neglect of both the needs of the sinner for salvation and of the welfare of the Church.

Anonymous said...

I’m fascinated why Colin is regarded by you as a “leading voice in the Anglican Communion”?

Or why you would be spending time reading the Daily Wail! As Colin would point out, he is not a vicar, he is 64, they are not getting married, Bobby isn’t a model, and he’s less than half Colin’s age – that’s five errors in the 11 words of the headline alone!

As for not keeping “the commandments of Lord Jesus” *flicking through Bible pages* “Nothing to see here, folks, on your way now!”

However, Jesus does say something about telling the truth, writing scandals on blogs, making mountains out of molehills, divorce, distracting people from the real issues, wasting time,…

Wait - I just realised the relevance to this site: if everyone signed the Anglican Covenant, this would never happen!

Alison

Howard Pilgrim said...

Peter, I know that sanctimonious, self-righteous prats do not read your blog and offer comments. For this reason, we may conclude that Andy S. is himself a homosexual person living a life of self-sacrificing celibacy, putting aside his own needs for intimacy in order to serve the Church. However, St Paul taught us not to expect everyone else to be celibate, as it requires a special gift from God.

P.S. The article you linked to made the point that the marriage will be a civil ceremony and that the church did not regard the service to follow as a blessing, although the participants clearly do. It seems that "the welfare of the church" is been meticulously attended to, above the needs of the people.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Alison,
(In my view) Changing Attitude is one of the two leading pro-gay organisations in the Anglican Communion (Integrity [TEC] is the other). Together they exert considerable pressure on one side of the 'great debate'. The leading voice within Changing Attitude is Colin Coward, and Colin Coward makes himself present in a lot of meetings around the place. So I think a 'leading voice in the Anglican Communion' is accurate.

Whether the Daily Mail article, or any UK tabloid article is accurate is always an interesting question, though some have found to their financial peril that it is not wise to challenge their accuracy in court!

The fact is, this article has been noticed in the Anglican blogosphere prior to my noticing that the Anglican blogosphere has noticed it: so the news is out there.

My interest is in whether Changing Attitude is 'reading' accurately the propensity of the Communion to 'change' or not. My hunch is that CA is not reading that propensity very well. While it is laudable that the relationship in question is not being kept secret, I suggest it questionable whether this level of publicity serves the cause of CA well. It might harden resolve not to change rather than weaken that resolve ... what do you think?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Howard,
ADU is an inclusive blog and self-righteous prats are most welcome to read and to comment (providing they name themselves). Why, some might even think the author of the blog is a self-righteous prat!

Suem said...

"I suggest it questionable whether this level of publicity serves the cause of CA well. It might harden resolve not to change rather than weaken that resolve ... what do you think?"

I'm not quite sure what you mean here? Colin is not entering into a CP as a publicity stunt though?

I think the relationship crosses so many boundaries, gender, race and age - and the honesty about the relationship- that it will stir prejudice in those so inclined.

It it up to those who hear about it to decide whether to judge, without even knowing the persons concerned, or whether to reserve judgement.Which resolve would it harden? The resolve to condemn those in gay relationships, or the resolve to look at the plank in our own eyes and not the speck in our brother's?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem,
I do not think any kind of 'publicity stunt' is involved here. The relationship is genuine and sincere. But the article says that courting publicity is intended, and, presumably, the accompanying photos underline a willingness by these two men to engage in publicising their relationship.

It is always possible that such publicity will lead to a hardening of prejudice etc rather than a breaking down of prejudice. But my point of concern is a little different. The Anglican Communion is engaged in an exercise of determining whether it might officially agree to variation in its traditional understanding of the nature and extent of Christian marriage.

To agree to this change, many Anglicans, not in the least bit prejudicial against gay and lesbian people, but in deep commitment to abide by God's revelation of the obligations of holy living, would need to be persuaded to change their understanding of these obligations.

I am raising the question whether Anglicans whom 'Changing Attitude' would like to see change their minds will be assisted in changing their minds by this kind of publicity.

I think they will not. But I could be wrong ...

Suem said...

I think those who hold a traditional understanding of marriage as being between a man and a women would not change their mind because a gay priest enters into a civil partnership.

When you talk of gay people needing,
" the deep commitment to abide by God's revelation of the obligations of holy living" - I assume you mean this entails celibacy?

I've noticed that people are most likely to change their mind about celibacy when they are confronted with the dilemmas in the form of someone they love.

I've noticed people often change their minds if a son or daughter comes out as gay and they see their anguish at contemplating a life without the chance of love or intimacy with another person.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem,
People do change their minds when confronted with certain experiences of life. But Changing Attitude's very existence implies an impatience with such an ad hoc approach to change in official policy of the church. It's raison d'etre is to lobby for change, not to wait for it to occur. Thus my question remains whether courting publicity in this way for this relationship is likely to assist the lobbying process or not.

Suem said...

Hi Peter,
I am not sure it is "courting" publicity, more being open. There are many much more ostentatious events than that planned - for example some people have had actually services of blessings in churches with confetti, horse and carriage etc.

Bryan Owen said...

Celibacy rules out the physical expression of one's sexuality. It does not rule out "the chance of love or intimacy with another person."

Suem said...

Well, that is certainly true Bryan, but it rules out physical intimacy (or at least makes it difficult to engage in physical intimacy and know where the borders lie.)Some people find it difficult to face the prospect of al life lived without physical/sexual intimacy with someone they love and share their lives with. I can relate to this, I would guess you can as well?

Bryan Owen said...

By "physical intimacy," I mostly have in mind the genital expression of one's sexuality, and/or physical acts that arouse the desire for such expression. Depending on the persons involved, knowing the borders or boundaries here can be tricky, but certainly not impossible to discern.

And yes, Suem, I understand your point about the difficulty, particularly when it comes to celibacy, but also when it comes to chastity (the preservation of sexual purity according to one's state in life). If C. S. Lewis was right that say that "Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christan virtues" over 50 years ago, one can only imagine what he'd think about what's happened to this virtue in our day!

Just to be clear, I do not intend in any way to make light of the difficulties involved in all of this. But the fact that something taught and required by the Church since the beginning of the Christian movement is difficult or feels "unnatural" is not a sufficient reason why it cannot be a non-negotiable part of faithful discipleship.

I'm reminded of something Fr. Tony Clavier said in a sermon:

"Jesus offered no easy religion to his disciples and he offers no easy religion to us. We don’t much like that. So often we think of faith as some sort of insurance policy against suffering, hurt, betrayal, sickness and death itself. Like Peter we don’t want a faith that goes there. We want a return for our investment. We want our rights. We want our freedom. The list of our wants go on and on. Like Peter we don’t want Jesus to suffer but is that in part because we don’t want to be caught up in his suffering?"

To be fair, I think that, on the whole, the Church does a dismal job of supporting persons whom she asks to make such sacrifices. If celibacy is required for all persons who are not married, then we simply cannot say to people (regardless of their sexual orientation), "This is what the Church requires of you. Go in peace to live this way, and good luck." We tacitly say much the same thing to married persons who struggle with what it means to be faithful to their spouses. We dare not talk about such matters. Sex remains the elephant in the Church's living room.

And so we mostly let people suffer and struggle with these matters on their own. But left to our own devices, most of us will fail. And many of us who fail will feel the guilt and shame that only isolate us that much more from the support we need. It's very sad.

Suem said...

Yes, I do agree with you about the lack of support. I am involved with an organisation (Courage) which helps gay, married people to be faithful to their straight spouses, it also happily supports those who are gay but cannot see their way clear to a sexual relationship, it also has members who feel they can with a clear conscience enter a same sex relationship.
I think people's decisions on this matter are for their own conscience( I guess you will disagree with me on this one!) I personally see no bar to a same sex relationship, though we should ask for the level of commitment we expect from a heterosexual one. But I have gay friends who are celibate by conviction. We might discuss our disagreements, but I fully respect their beliefs ( and their sacrifice) and they do mine. I believe this is the way forward - rather as shown in Andrew Marin's approach.

I also don't see why people in a SS relationship should be rejected and condemned by the church when divorced and remarried folk are largely accepted despite equally compelling scriptural injunctions.

Bryan Owen said...

Suem, while we may very well disagree on any number of things, I do appreciate the work you're doing. No doubt, it's made a difference in many people's lives.

I personally don't believe that the Church should be in the rejection/condemnation business. That doesn't mean that we can or should put up with or approve of everybody's behavior all the time, but it most definitely means we must respect the dignity of every human being. The operative principle here is: "Everyone is accepted in Christ, but no one is affirmed as they are."

As to the the conservative rejection of homosexual practice (and why even many centrists have reasons for not fully supporting the Left's agenda on the LGBT front) and why it won't do to raise the issue of divorce and remarriage as a counter, a good place to start is by comparing the biblical witness. Drawing on the work of New Testament scholar Richard B. Hays, I've summarized on my blog the diversity of the New Testament witness on divorce and remarriage:

"Given this summary of New Testament diversity, it simply will not do to say, 'The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!' when it comes to divorce and remarriage. There is no single biblical rule here. Instead, there is a moral argument internal to the New Testament canon. So it is not appropriate to make categorical judgments about particular cases of divorce and remarriage on the basis of isolated biblical texts. The entirety of the New Testament's diverse witness must be taken into account."

By contrast, there is no comparable diversity of biblical witness regarding homosexuality, and no comparable moral argument internal to the canon. On the contrary (and as even many supporters of the "full inclusion" agenda have acknowledged), the biblical witness is one of unambiguous condemnation. 2,000 years of Christian tradition (and the previous thousands of Jewish) concur. I do wish it were otherwise.

Andy S said...

I also don't see why people in a SS relationship should be rejected and condemned by the church when divorced and remarried folk are largely accepted despite equally compelling scriptural injunctions..

Nobody is "rejected and condemned" by the Church, Suem.

Sin is a sickness which separates us from God and one which we are all subject to.

The Church is for healing from this sickness and is there for all.

The cure for sin is repentance and the first step in that is to acknowledge the sin.

To deny sin or even to sanctify it is not of long term benefit to anyone least of all the sinner.

Do you think a doctor who tells a heavy smoker that tobacco is harmless is doing the patient any favors?

I suspect physical sexuality is the "Golden Calf" of our age, something we worship and give far more importance to than it merits.

And apart from losing sight of God by doing this it also goes to explain why many relationships do not stand the test of time because a relationship founded on physicality (which is ephemeral) rather than emotional and spiritual grounds is built on a foundation of sand.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for various comments!

Just picking up on one small thing Bryan said at 10.18am:

It is interesting to ponder whether it is the 'right' which is responsible for holding back the 'left's' march for progress on 'gay marriage' in the Communion, or is it the 'centre'? A 'centre' that is which may not be vocalising its lack of conviction that a persuasive case has been made by the 'left' ...

Suem said...

"By contrast, there is no comparable diversity of biblical witness regarding homosexuality, and no comparable moral argument internal to the canon."

Well, there is.Writers such as George Hopper (and others) have produced detailed examination of all the key passages in the Old and New Testaments, and that is even from a position of believing in biblical inerrancy (which I personally don't.)

Christ has nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality, while on divorce and remarriage he is absolutely unequivocal.

Bryan Owen said...

Suem, I note that Christ also has nothing to say on the topic of incest. I'm sure we can agree that his silence on that subject does not give anyone license to engage in such a practice, much less for the Church to bless it.

As to Christ being "absolutely unequivocal" on the topic of divorce and remarriage, I note that in Mark and Luke, he categorically prohibits divorce. But in Matthew, Christ allows for the possibility of divorce in cases of "unchastity." That pits Matthew against Mark and Luke. That's one part of what I mean about there being diversity and a moral argument within the canon.

I am aware, of course, that there are scholars who have analyzed the relevant biblical texts pertaining to homosexual practice who have come to a conclusion at variance with the traditional understanding. But we should at least note that they are swimming against the current of the hermeneutic of the majority of the Christian tradition for the past 2,000 years and Jewish tradition for the previous several thousand years.

What scholars who offer a different reading and provinces like The Episcopal Church are asking the rest of the Anglican and the larger Christian world to believe is that, although we constitute less than a fraction of a percent of all Christians who have ever lived, we have a new revelation that has been given to no one else and which is not recognizable as within the normative bounds of the faith to most other Christians living today. In light of that fact, it is perfectly reasonable to have doubts about pushing for such changes.

Suem said...

Christ is categorical that the only ground for divorce is the unfaithfulness of a spouse. The church has fairly recently for the first time allowed the marriage of divorcees in church ( and not confined this to divorces on grounds of adultery.) This is a departure from previous tradition and practice.

Bryan Owen said...

Suem, insofar as scripture allows for even one exception when it to divorce (i.e., unfaithfulness), and insofar as scripture does not allow for any exceptions when it comes to homosexual practice, trying to equate the two is rather like saying that an apple is an orange.

I agree with you that, insofar as the Church allows for remarriage after divorces that did not occur due to unfaithfulness, she has departed from authoritative teaching. This raises an interesting question: does the fact that the Church has failed to uphold authoritative teaching in one area make it okay for her to fail to uphold authoritative teaching in other areas?

Suem said...

I think you and I have different ideas about how the bible should be "used" Bryan. I once had a friend whose marriage (when she was very young) simply broke down - no adultery involved. At twenty two she longed to get married and have children. Her "bible based" church told her she must remain celibate, and in fact told her she should avoid men and told her to mixed sex gatherings and bible studies because of her "strong desires to sin" (her need to have someone to love in her life.)

She became very depressed. She finally left church altogher, she is now happily married with children. She still bears spiritual scars.

I don't think her church were loving or wise. I don't think it is loving or wise to treat gay people in the same way.

Perhaps you would take the approach used towards this female friend of mine, perhaps you wouldn't.

If you WOULD - then I will have to just beg to be a less exacting Christian than you - and you can judge yourself to be better than I am, if you so wish. If you WOULDN'T, I applaud your compassion, but I do think you apply different standards to gay and straight people.

Bryan Owen said...

Suem, of course compassion is in order for persons who find themselves in such untenable and painful situations! Of course! If that weren't true, Jesus would have let the crowd stone to death the woman caught in adultery.

But we're still talking apples and oranges, and thus the charge of a double standard does not apply.

The call to compassion does still apply, however. And as I mentioned in an earlier comment, with respect to the sexual struggles of pretty much all persons (gay or straight), the Church has largely been in the abandonment business.

If I could find a single instance of approval for homosexual practice and/or same-sex marriage in either scripture or tradition, I would be content to revert back to my days (not so long ago!) as a "liberal" on this issue. Instead, what I see the Church doing (at least in my neck of the woods where the Liberal Party is in charge at the highest levels) is making it up as she goes along, politicizing real people's lives for the sake of enacting agendas and consolidating power and control, creating facts on the ground and then demanding that we offer a "generous pastoral response" when, in truth, we simply have not laid the theological groundwork for our actions.

Of course, the Right has engaged in more than its fair share of political shenanigans on this and other issues. As a more centrist-minded Anglican (yes, I'm actually not a die-hard conservative, Suem!), I'm more than happy to be an equal-opportunity critic.

At least biblical scholar Luke Timothy Johnson (whose work I admire) is willing to admit that, on the issue of homosexuality, he's setting aside the authority of scripture. But if you set that authority aside in one case, what's to stop you from setting it aside in any other case? And also with tradition? What's to make the discipline of living under authority merely an exercise in cherry-picking?

Going down that path, the ultimate locus of authority in all matters moral and theological becomes ... me. And scripture and tradition are useful insofar as they support ... me: what I want, desire, and already approve.

A check against all of this, it seems to me, is to take seriously what it means to be a part of the larger Church. And that larger Church simply does not recognize as within the bounds of normative Christian faith and practice the changes we are enacting.

Suem said...

I have to say I DO think the charge of double standards applies. If you allow scripture to be broken(ie scripturally adulterous remarriage) purely because the forbidden sex is heterosexual,it seems to me that it is your prejudice that wins the case, not adherence to scripture.

We are not talking apples and oranges, we are talking apples (scripturally forbidden sex) and apples ( scripturally forbidden sex.)

However, I am sorry to hear that you have suffered from liberals in your church "politicising" things, and glad that you aim for balance.

I actually am an advocate of the acceptance of a diversity of views on this issue.At the risk of repeating myself, I have a dear friend who is gay and celibate through conviction and others in relationships. I love them all dearly and respect the views of them all.I know God loves each and every one of them in their struggles and decisions.

I don't believe those who honestly feel same sex sex is wrong should be pilloried, as long as they show a grace and gentleness to those who differ from that view. Also, if they are a non celibate heterosexual, I do expect the humility to admit that they might find it impossible to remain a life long celibate!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem and Brian,
I am very impressed by the high standard of your debate. Thank you!

I have been content to be an admirer from the sidelines, but I find myself stimulated to make one comment ... and it responds, Suem, to your use of the word 'prejudice' in your last comment.

If we introduce this judgement into the debate it seems to imply a prior evaluation: sexual acts between consenting adults carry no moral priority or preference other than that in certain contexts (e.g. a Judeo-Christian one) a priority or preference might be given to sexual acts between consenting adults who also love each other with permanent and exclusive commitment to each other. On this prior evaluation opposition to sexual acts between consenting, loving, committed adults of the same sex can only be prejudice, and not on any other basis.

But is there no moral priority or preference for heterosexual acts compared with homosexual acts? Perhaps not if we keep focusing on sex for (a) mutual pleasure, (b) expression of love through physical intimacy. There is just the tiny matter that the primary purpose of sex, both biblically and biologically speaking is for procreation. In the long run the human race which wishes to continue and not to cease to exist cannot (I suggest) be collectively morally neutral about sexual acts between adults: there is always a moral priority and preference for potentially reproductive acts. Perhaps jumping a step or two further in the argument, I suggest it is not, in fact, 'prejudice' to think that heterosexual sex and homosexual sex acts are not both 'apples' in comparative assessments of specific questions about the morality of sexual acts.

David |Dah • veed| said...

But we should at least note that they are swimming against the current of the hermeneutic of the majority of the Christian tradition for the past 2,000 years and Jewish tradition for the previous several thousand years.

This is the monotonously oft repeated catch phrase of antihomosexual, conservatives. However, no matter how often it is repeated now will not change the fact the it is in its least destructive context a myth and in its most destructive context a vicious lie. Period.

We now have the body of work, of scholars who have researched its validity and found that it is simply not true, beginning with the scholarship of the late historian John Boswell in Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality; Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century and continuing to present day research and comments in Anglican blogdom of the Revd. Göran Koch-Swahne, Ret., Church of Sweden.

It is a new hermeneutic existing barely 700 years, starting in small portions of Christendom and attached to a lot of other unflattering and disgusting baggage of the reformation and counter-reformation church fathers.

Peter Carrell said...

It is simply unfathomable, David, has this strong, hitherto widely known, but lately stringently suppressed evidence has been confined to revelation through one or two scholars only.

The strength of the evidence makes it absolutely surprising that it has cut almost no ice with conservatives the world over, not least in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches which have such a careful and vigilant eye on tradition lest any of it be lost through the avalanche of modernity.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Actually Peter, I was giving you but two of many scholars, the one who began the work, and the other, who is an acquaintance of many of us in the land of Anglican blogs, who is using his retirement to continue the research.

Neither of the two church communions you mention has a corner on the tradition. The Vatican has a history of not knowing what is in its vaults. And when folks such as John Boswell reveal to the Vatican and the world what is actually there, the Vatican often shuts the doors. Opps, there will be no more research here, no more light will be shed here on this subject. We are sorry, for reasons known only to us this part of the archive must be closed.

What is most revealing is that we have access to the bible translations of various eras of the church's history apart from the archives of the Vatican, from the holdings of many other locations, and we through these translations have direct access to the "mind" of the church of that era. This is some of the work on which Father Göran is working. And his study of the translations of "the scriptures" from prior eras backs the research by Dr. Boswell and shows that anti-homosexual material is not found in the translations of the so called clobber scriptures of prior eras, it is modern phenomena.

You may make light of it as much as you like Peter in reference to numbers, because numbers are what it always returns to with you, but Father Göran's work is slow and meticulous and I dare say his grasp of English is no better than my own, so it will be awhile before it is more widely available. But that does not make it any less truthful.

PS, perhaps it is my poor English, but I really cannot make heads or tails of your first paragraph in your comment making fun of me. Could you please rework it with proper English for my sake.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Part One -

Actually Peter, I was giving you but two of many scholars, the one who began the work, and the other, who is an acquaintance of many of us in the land of Anglican blogs, who is using his retirement to continue the research.

Neither of the two church communions you mention has a corner on the tradition. The Vatican has a history of not knowing what is in its vaults. And when folks such as John Boswell reveal to the Vatican and the world what is actually there, the Vatican often shuts the doors. Opps, there will be no more research here, no more light will be shed here on this subject. We are sorry, for reasons known only to us this part of the archive must be closed.

What is most revealing is that we have access to the bible translations of various eras of the church's history apart from the archives of the Vatican, from the holdings of many other locations, and we through these translations have direct access to the "mind" of the church of that era. This is some of the work on which Father Göran is working. And his study of the translations of "the scriptures" from prior eras backs the research by Dr. Boswell and shows that anti-homosexual material is not found in the translations of the so called clobber scriptures of prior eras, it is modern phenomena.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Part Two -

You may make light of it as much as you like Peter in reference to numbers, because numbers are what it always returns to with you, but Father Göran's work is slow and meticulous and I dare say his grasp of English is no better than my own, so it will be awhile before it is more widely available. But that does not make it any less truthful.

PS, perhaps it is my poor English, but I really cannot make heads or tails of your first paragraph in your comment making fun of me. Could you please rework it with proper English for my sake.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
I should not have made light of your remarks, and thus be interpreted as making fun of you. I apologise to you for that.

A serious response is this: Boswell and others have uncovered evidence that at times and in places some parts of the church have accepted, tolerated and even occasionally blessed same sex partnerships. But if this uncovering is stretched to a hypothesis that the church has (a) mostly accepted such relationships but (b) concomitantly suppressed evidence for this widespread acceptance, then it is 'unfathomable' that a 'strong hypothesis' has not gained greater significance than it has.

But the possibility exists that (1) the hypothesis is weak (2) because the evidence is scratchy: here and there but not everywhere, and (3) what suppression of the evidence has taken place is suppression of scratchy evidence, since it would be impossible to suppress widespread evidence in favour of the church accepting same sex relationships for long periods of time across vast tracts of its territories.

David |Dah • veed| said...

I fear that you are seeking Peter, what indeed is not there. If you are expecting to shed light on eras of the church where same sex relationships were the cause célèbre that they are in some parts of the Anglican Communion and other denominations today, that does not exist.

What the evidence does show is that it was a non-issue. It was such a non-issue that the clobber scripts were not associated with homosexuality in the translations of those eras of the church's history. It was such a non-issue that in some areas there is ample evidence that same sex unions were blessed and celebrated.

So it has not been this monolithic tradition marching through the annals of time of which Brian mythologizes. The subject became what it has been in modern times only recently in the church's "2000 year history," starting about 700 years ago. Dating from a time of shame in the church's history when its various factions began persecuting a number of identifiable groups; the Roma, Jews, homosexual men and began a wider and more oppressive elevation of patriarchy and subjugation of women. And it has crept into the translations of the scriptures only in the most recent 200 years, and has been most prolific in the second half of the last century when just about anyone with an ecclesiastical dog & pony show has produced a translation.

The reason same sex relationships are a cause célèbre today is because it is a strong backlash by those oppressed. Had what occurred 700 years ago not transpired I am sure that it would have continued to be a non issue and we would not be discussing it here on your blog.

Suem said...

Not really, Peter. If someone is prepared to waive a scriptural injunction simply because the end result will be heterosexual adultery( being biblically literal), but not prepared to waive a scriptural injuction because the end result will be a homosexual act, surely that is unequal treatment(if you don't like the word prejudice?)

I am always being told we cannot "make our own mind up" if our perceptions differ from scripture - and yet conservatives do this! Adultery is forbidden in the ten commandments; if we were to introduce a graduated scale of sexual sins, there would be no biblical justification for this one to be waived!

If people are to insist that we read the bible literally and impose all its precepts, I think this should be consistent. A divorced person must be told not to remarry (except if the divorce was caused by adultery of their spouse) if a gay person is told to be celibate.
You can't have your cake and eat it!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
It is true that 700 years or so ago, possibly because of the Black Death that gripped Europe, some things in history changed. I remain unconvinced that the proposal of a dividing line in history between 'non issue' and 'issue' as distinctive periods is as straightforward as you make out.

I am open to convincing otherwise, but the convincing could look at things such as (a) attitudes to women (some of the church fathers said things which belies a pre 1300 'good', post 1300 'bad' approach), (b) the history of Bible translation: there were not that many of them relative to the plethora in the last 100 years, so one might expect differences in translations pre 1300 and post 1300!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem,
At risk of seeming 'prejudicial' I remain unconvinced by your response. If the sole basis for building a moral case for same sex partnerships is (a) the letter of the Bible, (b) observing exceptions to the letter of the Bible, and (c) proposing a further exception to the letter of the Bible, then arguably to permit exception X and not exception Y is 'prejudicial' and results in an unjust outcome.


This is an interesting basis for the morality of same sex partnerships because it keeps them resting on a negative foundation, vulnerable to any change in assessment of the other exceptions.

Suem said...

Hi Peter,
I did try to post earlier, but it wouldn't post.

1. I do not think it is inconsistent or discriminatory for a biblical literalist to say that same sex sex is prohibited, but that opposite sex sex (within marriage) is permitted.

2. I do not think it is inconsistent or discriminatory for a biblical literalist to say that this rule holds even if the same sex and the opposite sex relationships are both "consensual and committed".

3. I DO think it is inconsistent and discriminatory for a biblical literalist to say that biblical injunctions against adultery can be waived, but biblical injunctions against same sex sex cannot.

If you remain unconvinced -so be it! You will have to just continue to believe in the integrity of your position, but you have failed to convince me.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem
I agree with you. The biblical literalist position is likely to lead to indefensible inconsistency.

I am not arguing for a biblical literalist position.

Suem said...

Oh well, that's good. I sometimes get people who tell me that liberals (not that I necessarily see myself as libeal) "pick and choose" their bits of scripture, or "ignore" certain bits. I find that there are very few people who can't be accused of that.