Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guardian publishes column in favour of Covenant

Thanks to the Guardian (UK) we have a very helpful column in favour of the Covenant (H/Thinking Anglicans). Admittedly it is an argument in disguise, for it looks to all intents and purposes like the introduction to one of its series of answers to a question in the 'Comment is Free' section, the suggested answers being provided by a range of opinion-makers. I expect to see some well-known C of E names contributing over the next few days!

Here is what is written:

"Next week the Church of England's General Synod will be asked to take an apparently momentous decision. Should it sign up to a formal, international, disciplinary process which would allow other churches a voice on whether it is truly Anglican or not? The proposed Anglican covenant is presented as a means to deepen unity within the Anglican Communion, but it will do so by strengthening discipline.


It has grown out of the schism of the last decade, and the desire of the conservatives to exclude, and have declared un-Anglican, and in fact un-Christian, the inclusion of of gay people on equal or comparable terms to straight ones. The question really does divide the church. Globally, there is a clear majority against it. In this country, there is probably a vague majority of Christians in favour, and certainly no strong sentiment for a purge of gay clergy. So why should the Church of England sign up to a document which can only be either another piece of toothless waffle, or something that one day will turn round and bite it, painfully?"

I have boldened words which seem quite outrageous in their claims. Quite how the writer estimates that globally there is a clear majority 'against' the Covenant, I do not know. Even within England itself, presumably best known to the writer, there is the uncertainty implied in the word 'probably' which gives lie to the certainty expressed in the previous sentence.

Italicised by me are the words which I think neatly sum up two arguments for the Covenant! (1) That in a global Anglican entity it is a good and necessary thing for all members to have the right to choose to have a say in what any one member body proposes to be an assertion of what it means to be Anglican. (2) That in a body keen to deepen unity, it is (again) a good and necessary thing to have a clear means of discipline in order to reject those things which work against the deepening of unity. It would be folly to work on deepening unity while having no means of countering forces working against unity!

Crossed out by me are words which undermine the credibility of the writer's accurate understanding of the Communion's situation. Quite how they slipped by the editor, I do not know. Conservatives do not wish to exclude anyone from the church but they do want to uphold the church's teaching on marriage. The tension is not about inclusion/exclusion but about what our common doctrine on marriage is. Perhaps in the next few days as further columns in Comment is Free are produced, we will see greater accuracy!

14 comments:

David |Dah • veed| said...

I think that if you read it more slowly Peter you shall come away with a different take.

He was not saying that globally there was a clear majority against the covenant, but that globally there was a clear majority against the inclusion of gay people on equal or comparable terms to straight ones. At the same time he stated that there was probably a vague majority of Christians in England in favor of the inclusion of gay people on equal or comparable terms to straight ones and that additionally there was certainly no strong sentiment for a purge of gay clergy.

Perhaps read it all again and consider editing your post accordingly. Because I think that if you better grasped what he really wrote you might comment differently.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
You could be right, that the 'it' refers to the question of inclusion etc, and not to the Covenant. If so, I would still question how he knows that re the globe.

But, re-reading the column, I am by no means sure that you are right. I think the 'it' refers to the Covenant, but I acknowledge ambiguity (i.e. you could be right, but re-reading it, I do not think it at all clear that I am wrong!)

Suem said...

David is right. The Guardian is clearly saying that the global Communion is largely against the inclusion of gays , but the C of E is largely in favour and would not want to purge its considerable number of gay clergy - as I have pointed out on this blog before.
The Guardian writer would also know that a poll about the Covenant in the Church Times produced about 84% against, so there is no way he or she would say Britain has "a large majority" in favour of the Covenant.
I think the assertion that the Communion is largely against the inclusion of gay people is accurate. We are often told that the average Anglican is African, black, male and under thirty - and we know the general attitudes to gay people in places such as Uganda and Nigeria, so not an unreasonable assertion. I would not have thought you would want to argue that we are unsure as to where the global Communion stands on gay relationships?

David |Dah • veed| said...

If the way that you are reading this is correct, then what is one to do with the phrase "and certainly no strong sentiment for a purge of gay clergy"?

Surely In this country, there is probably a vague majority of Christians in favor [of the inclusion of gay people on equal or comparable terms to straight ones], and certainly no strong sentiment for a purge of gay clergy makes much more sense than In this country, there is probably a vague majority of Christians in favor [the Covenant], and certainly no strong sentiment for a purge of gay clergy.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem and David,
I think the writer is being ambiguous, not least because even on your reading he moves from 'Covenant' to 'inclusion' and back to 'Covenant.'

I am somewhat more persuaded in favour of your reading, because I recognise that he talks about a majority of 'Christians' and not 'Anglicans'. The latter would be more appropriate if talking about the Covenant.

I would still not be sure on what basis one would make a claim that the majority of Christians around the world are against inclusion of gays in the church.

David |Dah • veed| said...

I think you are making this harder than it is. I doubt that he is being purposely ambiguous, I think that he just writes poorly. I write with a lot of pronouns on first draft. But then I go back and purposely edit the pronouns so that my writing is clear and nothing is confusing or ambiguous as to my meaning. This writer certainly did not do that in this instance.

I would still not be sure on what basis one would make a claim that the majority of Christians around the world are against inclusion of gays in the church.

Are you pulling my leg or are you playing a game of semantics. I am pretty sure that this writer means the inclusion of gays in the church exactly as ACCanada and TEC mean the inclusion of gay folks in the church; same gender marriages and the full inclusion of same gendered married gay folks in all of the orders of the ordained ministry of the church. And I am pretty sure that the majority of Christians around the world are not in favor of that level of inclusion of GLBT folks yet.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
You have an unerring ability to know what a poor writer actually intended to say. I have an unerring inability to distinguish between ambiguous writing and and poor writing.

And you are right: it is poor writing when important words are used without defining what they mean. There are two kinds of 'inclusion' we are talking about. And if the writer means the kind you are talking about then, yes, the majority of Christians (RC, EO, majority Anglicans, Pentecostals, many Baptists, manu Presbyterians, etc) do not support it.

Bryan Owen said...

Is it the case that (reprobates notwithstanding) "the global Communion is largely against the inclusion of gays" per se? Or is it more accurate to say that the the global Communion is largely against the inclusion of gay sex as a sacramental sign of the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church?

There is a whole world of moral difference between the former and the latter (the former being absolutely morally vicious and despicable).

Peter Carrell said...

Bryan / David,

For various reasons, including the reason that I do not want to be bothered with potential bucketloads of moderation re the discussion which might be generated, I am not prepared, David, to publish the first part of your response to Bryan. The last sentence is this:

"How about we carve this sacramental image on the frontal of our Eucharistic tables? Or perhaps the altar guild could needlepoint it on the kneeling cushions. Because we need to get this correct. We do not want some God damnable act that is morally vicious and despicable! "

The image here would be the correct sex act which illustrates Christ's love for the church.

I am not sure, David, whether your last four words are intended to be in line with Bryan's comment or not: in his comment I understand those four words to refer to the act of the church excluding people solely on the grounds of gayness.

David |Dah • veed| said...

I did not intend for you to actually let the comment through moderation. My point was the beyond belief idea that the mystical union of Christ with his church was actually represented by a sex act! But if so, which one?

The Deutero-Pauline author of Ephesians in Eph 5 uses a simile of Christ's love for the church paralleled with the love of a husband for his wife. There is no sex act represented there, but the love of one person toward another. Why could that simile not also be fulfilled in the love of a same gender couple?

Anonymous said...

"Why could that simile not also be fulfilled in the love of a same gender couple?"

Why not among three or four people as well?

Al M.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

Why do fools always ask such stupid questions? They have absolutely no connection to the topic whatsoever! We are discussing committed relationships between strictly two people and two people only. And idiots interject ridiculous questions about multiple partners and/or relations with children or animals to divert and confuse the conversation because they are simply not intelligent enough to actually participate honestly with the subject matter.

Anonymous said...

"... y cualquiera que diga: Necio, a su hermano, sera culpable ante el concilio, y cualquiera que le diga: Fatuo, quedara expuesto al infierno de fuego."

I think you need to watch your tendency to make ad hominem attacks and personal insults on people who disagree with your beliefs. The question was not foolish. Polygamy was widespread in the ancient world as it is today. It is relatively easy on naturalistic grounds and by analogous reasoning to make a case for polygamy today - but this would not be *Christian*, revelation-based thinking but secular human reason.
Christian marriage is NOT the same as friendship, and nowhere in the Bible or in the Christian tradition is such an equation made. There is simply NO such thing as 'same gendered marriage' in the New Creation in Christ. Friendships are not intended by Christ to be sexualized. The teaching of the church Catholic is clear on this.

Al M.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

SPEAK TO ME IN ENGLISH FOR ALL TO UNDERSTAND.
Folks should not have to go scrambling for a translation.

Obviously there is a problem with that verse or a mistranslation because the words are synonymous. So the statement contradicts itself.

And had we been discussing polygamy it might have been a comment worth making. But the conversation is not polygamy and it has not been polygamy. So to interject polygamy or pedophilia or bestiality is a diversion to mislead the actual conversation and is insulting and rude, a demonstration of a lack of manners, to those having the conversation. It is a common tactic of conservatives to derail the conversation. I have experienced it often too often, and I grow very tired of it, so I no longer suffer it lightly.

Christian marriage is NOT the same as friendship, and nowhere in the Bible or in the Christian tradition is such an equation made. There is simply NO such thing as 'same gendered marriage' in the New Creation in Christ. Friendships are not intended by Christ to be sexualized. The teaching of the church Catholic is clear on this.

This is your opinion. It makes for lousy fertilizer!

What is the difference in pointing out that you are a fool, and your heartless attach on my covenanted relationship with my late husband with such a belittling statement? To me it is as painful an insult as if your were to tell Peter or Bosco that they were married to whores!

Yes, it was a friendship. A friendship of many, many years. We grew up next door to one another. My closest childhood companion. His Papá was my Papá's second cousin. He was one day older than I was. All marriages better be founded on friendship or they are doomed to dire problems from the start. It was also a marriage. As much a marriage that any two opposite gendered couple could have, based on God witnessed vows of honor, fidelity, loyalty and love. And the day he dropped dead it tore my heart out.