Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fair's fair

The tide running here re gay 'marriage' is to argue that it is not a conception Christians should agree to, not least because it is not at all clear that God blesses such relationships.

But ADU is not averse to noting the good argumentation of other sides of important debates. (And this is an important debate in the sense that it is not going to go away from the Anglican churches any time soon).

On Thinking Anglicans today Jeffrey John offers as good an argument as I have ever seen in favour of gay 'marriage'.

As I am between sessions of our Synod, I have not time to process the argument. So I am genuinely interested in your analysis of it. What works, and what doesn't? What is true and what is not?

LATER: Also of interest here is an article about one of our long serving and much respected clerics, Val Riches, and her supportive attitude to gay 'marriage.'


Anonymous said...

Not at the core of your question, but an interesting one all the same:

"My partner and I met at theological college, where about three-quarters of the students and staff were gay (and the college was not unique in that respect)."

How do you think this came about given
(1) the traditional Christian view of homosexuality and
(2) the fact that homosexuality is found in a very small proportion of the population (most studies struggle to find as much as 5%.)


Peter Carrell said...

Excellent points, Margaret.
Essentially there has been a disproportionate presence of gay clerics in the C of E, at least in certain colleges and in certain dioceses. Given the toleration the C of E has exercised over the years, it must be galling for Jeffrey John to have this continuing inhibition by the C of E at large.

Father Ron Smith said...

An interesting question raised by Margaret here.

What is it about Christian spirituality that attracts so many gay prospective clergy? Could it possibly be that the loving attitude of Jesus in the gospels is attractive to a class of person who feels that Jesus may be seen to be understanding of their situation as potential 'outcasts' in society?

Presuming that clergy are answering the 'call of God' into ministry; there must be a reason why Gays might feel more accepted as a disciple of Christ - because of what they detect to be a specific calling to be personally validated by God to take their rightful place in the Church and the world.

The fact that, hitherto, most gay clergy have felt the need to be circumspect about their intrinsic sexuality, must be because to be more open would have compromised what they know to be their inmost integrity as ministers of Christ in the Gospel.

One must put part of the blame for this situation on the Church, that has forced this compromise - by its inbuilt hypocrisy about the reality of the situation.

At least, in his recent interview in The Telegraph, ++Rowan has said that the Church has been wrong in its understanding of homosexuality.
(see my article on 'kiwianglo')

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ron, that is one possible explanation, but I can think of others. For instance:

(a) that those admitting ordinands had decided, without the authority of the church as a whole, to act "prophetically" and preferentially admit gays;


(b) that the numbers have been "stetched" to make JJ seem less unusual

Do we agree that the implications 75% of the ordinands were gay in at least a significant proportion of the training institutions (otherwise why say it was not unsual) is consistent with something like 25 - 50% of priest of his age are gay. Any evidence of that?

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the video of what Rowan William's said.

He seems to be making a significant distinction between civil equality and what the church thinks.

PS I think I forgot to sign my last comment -- apologies, I do not like commenting anonymously so it was purely an oversight

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the presence in some parts of the C of E of disproportionate numbers of "gay" clergy is a cultural phenomenon. It does not seem to be the case in Evangelical denominations.

I don't share your enthusiasm for JJ's post Peter. It strikes me as very thin theologically. I note that there is no real attempt to wrestle with Scripture. The clear definition of marriage given to us by God in Genesis and reaffirmed by Jesus as one man and one women who become one flesh is nowhere dealt with. That in itself is telling.

What I do see is a great deal of self-justification and the very modern mindset that the Gospel is about us and our self-fulfillment, rather than the self-denial for the glory of God that Jesus taught and lived.

His argument that the Churches faithfulness to Scripture is damaging to the mission if the Church is also unconvincing. This just beggars the question of what exactly the mission if the Church is in the first place. Is it to witness to Christ regardless of the demands of the culture as the Church did in the face of persecution by the Roman state?

Moreover in places where the Church bumps up against Islam as it does in Africa, the acceptance in some parts of the AC of homosexuality is actually damaging to that mission.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
The 'best' argument that can be brought to a table can also be very 'thin'!

Anonymous said...

Some arguments have more Biblical and theological depth than others.

Father Ron Smith said...

"I don't share your enthusiasm for JJ's post Peter. It strikes me as very thin theologically."

I wonder what, precisely, does this mean? As opposed to 'theologically thick', perhaps? There's is plenty of that going on around the blogosphere.

Christian theology has to have an incarnational base. Divorced from incarnational reality, it becomes merely pseudo-spiritual mumbo-jumbo. Theological praxis, based on actual life experience is a great means towards enlightenment.

Peter Carrell said...

Indeed, Ron, "theologically thick" is precisely what I am looking for: a dense, well-founded, deeply thought through from all angles (and not just the angle of experience/praxis) "thick" argument.

Janice said...

This article in this month's Quadrant is more of a sociological than a theological analysis but it answers very well the assertion that legalising homosexual "marriage" will not harm marriage as an institution.

Anonymous said...

Personal experience does not outrank Scripture. As disciples our job is to conform to Christ as revealed in Scripture, not force Scripture to conform to our experience. Original Sin has so corrupted our natures that we need the only true enlightenment of God's Word to light our way.

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

MichaelA said...

Jeffrey Johns argument is full of holes.

He starts talking about how couples don't have to have children in order to be married (quite true) and then takes an enormous leap to come up with this totally unspported assertion:

"Theologically, ethically, and sacramentally, there is no difference between a gay couple and a heterosexual couple who cannot have children."

Hellooo? Where did this come from? There is every difference, theologically, ethically and sacramentally, because the gay couple aren't a man and a woman. They have no biblical sanction to get married.

Canon Johns continues:

"The obvious and insulting implication is that a gay marriage is empty, missing some all-important ingredient X."

Its hardly insulting, its just the truth. A gay marriage misses the essential ingredient of being between a man and a woman.

He also writes:

"Most of the lifelong gay relationships I know are between Christians - many of them clerics. My partner and I met at theological college, where about three-quarters of the students and staff were gay (and the college was not unique in that respect)."

That probably well explains why the Church of England is in such a parlous state.

Simon said...

Matthew Grayshon, a long serving and respected evangelical parish priest in London Diocese writes about the issue to some depth here at Fulcrum:

Father Ron Smith said...

As 'Simon Says', The Reverend Matthew Grayshon, a respected Evangelical (Anglican) parish priest in London, offers an eirenic view of persons in Same-Sex, monogamous relationship - because of his actual knowledge of such a relationship within his own parish community.

it is only when clergy come face to face with the intrinsic reality of such relationships that they become more pastorally attuned to the need for tolerance and understanding.

My belief is that there are many Evangelical clergy who are prepared to accept the fact of homosexuality as a natural sexual-orientation for some Christians - as well as others in society - but not before they actually have met, and had to deal with, such people.

It is in the area of close pastoral relationship - and the experience of 'getting to know' the people involved, where clergy - and others who are willing to take that risk - will encounter the reality of such phenomena.

The same could be true of those who are 'against' Women clergy. Have they ever been ministered to by a woman called by God to be a priest - or a bishop? I guess, like most things where the possibility of prejudice is concerned; one needs to be open to someone else's real experience - before judging them.

I have commented on Fr. Matthew's article on my blog 'kiwianglo'.