Monday, February 11, 2013

Reading carefully in Romans 14 and 15

I realise reading through Romans 14 and 15 that it is a subtle passage in Paul's thought. It is mainly about a controversy over eating food. But it is not solely about that controversy. In 14:5 Paul notes another controversy, 'Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike.' (See also Colossians 2:16). Clearly Paul thinks the theology over handling difference is applicable to more than one issue.

Further, Paul is tackling a question of difference among his readers, but he takes pains to point them all to the common ground they share. From 14:5b through 14:9 Paul lays out the common ground they share if they are willing to see it in each other. It has three aspects. First, an individual aspect, 'Let all be fully convinced in their own minds' (14:5b). If we are going to have difference among us, Paul seems to say, the least responsible thing we can each do is check and re-check our thinking so we are convinced we are right. What a waste of time and energy to argue about our differences if we have not yet fully thought through what we are asserting to be vital truth! An observation I make after many years of working on differences over human sexuality is that the process has gotten rid of silly ideas, badly thought through suppositions and ill-considered conceptions from my mind.

Secondly, on all sides of the controversy, people are honouring God. Whatever the presenting differences among Christians, we share common ground over our resolve to honour God by how we live. In respect of present sexuality controversies I offer two observations about what I read on the internet. (1) Often little thought is given to the possibility that those we oppose share with us a desire to honour the Lord. (2) An obvious logical move to make on such a matter is to claim that our opponents are not true Christians (i.e. whatever protestations they make, they are not really intent on honouring the Lord, thus they do not share common ground with us). Note that this move can work both ways in binary opposition: "A Liberal Christian is not a real Christian" say conservatives, "since basically they are heretics"; "Conservative Christians are just bigots (which effectively means, 'not genuinely Christian')" say liberals.

Thirdly, we all belong to the Lord: 'whether we live or die, we are the Lord's' (14:8). Our common ground is that we belong to the same family of God. Consequentially Paul goes on to ask, 'Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister?' Again, see in the above paragraph, number (2): the simplest way to avoid the complexity of handling difference in a Pauline manner is to deny that the other is a member of the same family!

Is that the end of the matter, we are different but the same, so just get on with life? Not quite. As time permits I will come back to Romans 14 and 15.

44 comments:

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Peter,

Both food and sacred days come under the umbrella of ceremonial/ritual purity, the very same issue that Jesus dealt with.

So I think Paul is dealing with a single issue, and I still see no evidence that this can be stretched to issues like homosexuality, or Trinitarianism vs Unitarianism.

"Secondly, on all sides of the controversy, people are honouring God."

And in the current crisis, that is not the case. Many are in fact honouring false gods, Baal in particular.

"Thirdly, we all belong to the Lord"

'Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.'

'Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.'

The problem is that we are not all of the Lord. Now while I think we should leave who is and who is not up to God, nevertheless we must not be so naive as to believe that everyone on a particular side of a debate is either honouring God or of the Lord.

As has been said, two very different religions occupy the same institutional space in the AC, and Paul's teaching on secondary matters of ritual purity cannot be stretched to try and paper that division over.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
I quite agree with you that we can never be too careful re ravenous wolves and false prophets, re people masquerading as Christians when they are Baal worshippers.

Nevertheless I do not find that all gay Christians are not true Christians and all Christians in favour of blessing same sex partnerships are otherwise heretics. Thus I am loath to prejudge where my reflections on Romans 14 and 15 are going to end up. And so far, I feel I have to reckon with what it means to share common ground with people I disagree with.

Yet I am not finished the reflections and so I do not know quite where I am going to end up!

Father Ron Smith said...

I wish you well with your attempts to unify Christians, Peter - especially on issues of sexuality. The dispute at an earlier time was about food; this time, about the veracity of claims that differently-oriented sexuality, where two people are free to love one another in a mutually loving but 'different' way, might be integrated into the moral compass of today's Church.

As each division in the Church has occurred - over one moral matter or another - the Church has become progressively weaker. Intentional schism over such matters has never made the Church stronger - nor yet a more effective witness to the love of Christ in the Gospel.

Jesus always championed the moral and powerless 'outsider' against moral (righteous?) crusaders

As Paul suggests; sometimes, the agreement to disagree might just be a more convincing way of 'observing the Unity of the Spirit in the Bonds of Peace (and Love)'. This is very difficult to achieve when everyone asserts their individual rights to 'The Truth'

The Truth is, that God has made us all different. To embrace that difference might be the perfect way to propagate the Gospel of Love.

Just a thought as we approach Lent!

Shawn Herles said...

"Jesus always championed the moral and powerless 'outsider' against moral (righteous?) crusaders"

In this case the "outsiders" are evangelical and conservative Christians, and the moral crusader's the advocates of the new Law of Liberal-Marxist political correctness.

"Nevertheless I do not find that all gay Christians"

Homosexuality is a behaviour, not an identity. There are no "gay" Christians.

There ARE Christians who experience same-gender attraction, but their true identity is in Christ, not in what they do in bed.

are not true Christians and all Christians in favour of blessing same sex partnerships are otherwise heretics.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
I am confused by your last line!

Re identity, I am trying to take seriously Christians' assertion of their identities. 'Anglican Christian', 'married Christian', 'single Christian', 'African Christian', and 'gay Christian' are all reasonable ways to express identity. A 'gay Christian' might be making no claim more than, 'when most Christian adults are married this is why I am not' or they might be making a claim such as 'I view the Bible through queer theology and suggest most orthodox theology is a bigoted response to presumed norms in a heteronormative world' - that is 'gay Christian' is simply a claim - more investigation is needed before determining whether it is an identity to be dismissed, disagreed with or respected.

Shawn Herles said...

" I am trying to take seriously Christians' assertion of their identities."

Why? What people say and what is true are not always the same thing. Truth is important, self-delusion based on the ideological mischief-making of the Devil is not.

" 'Anglican Christian', 'married Christian', 'single Christian', 'African Christian', and 'gay Christian' are all reasonable ways to express identity."

No, they are not. "gay Christian" is not a reasonable way to identify. It is a falsehood, and a cruel and dangerous one at that.

Good arguments cannot be advanced by accepting lies.

carl jacobs said...

You are rationalizing, Peter. You yourself said it to me. You want to treat divorce and homosexuality different from incest. You would cover homosexuality and divorce under Romans 14, but not incest. Why? Do you have some theological reasoning to support this differentiation? No, you simply don't much like the Scriptural prohibitions. You think them too harsh. You desire that they should be tempered in accordance with you experience. So you simply declare yourself inconsistent and proceed. You refer to Romans 14 because it is a convenient means for you to arrive at the destination you desire. You have already pre-selected that destination. This isn't exegesis. It is eisegesis intended to justify a preformed opinion.

Well, then what is the real difference? Again you have said it. "I can cast out the incestuous father because it will not cost me anything to do so. But homosexuality and divorce? That could be painful. There are relationships at stake." And so you go looking for Romans 14. You have already shattered your credibility to make this argument, Peter.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
I do not see how it is helpful to prejudge whether a person asserting an identity is lying or not.

I also understand no basis on which one can predetermine how people might 'truthfully' feel about themselves or 'falsely' feel about themselves.

I understand that at least some gay people, finding no discernible reason in their past for how they feel (e.g. rejected by a parent, abused as child etc) understand themselves as intrinsically prone to attraction to people of the same gender as I am prone to attraction to people of the opposite gender. I take that testimony seriously as a truthful account of an aspect of the reality of their human experience, which, reasonably, is expressed by saying 'I am gay' or 'I am a gay Christian.'

I also take as a truthful account of human experience that some people, having engaged in one form of therapeutic response or another, describe themselves as 'ex-gay' (or 'post-gay') while others truthfully describe themselves as having been unchanged despite intense and sincere effort to do so.

I suggest some respect for people's own account of their own experiences is a proper Christian response. That respect does not require us to agree that all aspects of the account being given are truthful (just as, I could tell you I am feeling depressed and (because you discern this and that about me) you find yourself wondering if I really am). But I do not find it respectful to other people to label from the start that if their account of themselves includes the descriptor 'gay' that that is necessarily an untruthful statement.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
I had not realised that I had arrived at the end of my reflection!

One difference between incest and homosexuality in the present context is that I am trying to reckon with being in a church (or, if you like, within a global Christianity) in which some people believe differently to you and me re homosexuality (but no one seems to believe differently to you and me re incest). Yes, I could keep running from those Christians into an ever purer sect, but I see that as a last resort and so am willing to explore what it might mean to live with difference in both the Anglican church and in global Christianity. Whether I arrive at a conclusion acceptable to you, Shawn, Ron, anyone, noone but myself ... we shall see!!

Shawn Herles said...

"I do not see how it is helpful to prejudge whether a person asserting an identity is lying or not."

Thats not what I said. I am not saying that people who identify as "homosexual" are lying, but that they have bought into a lie, a lie that arises from the world, the flesh and the devil.

"I suggest some respect for people's own account of their own experiences is a proper Christian response. "

Are they accounts of actual experience, or ideological interpretations? I believe the latter.

The first step in healing is to call our sins what they are, sins.

We do not do those who struggle with same-gender attraction any favours by buying into the world's lie about innate sexual identities.

Real compassion involves both empathy and truth telling.

This is true across the board, for ALL of us.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
I appreciate a distinction between 'lying' and 'bought into a lie', but does it actually account for the teenager on whom it dawns that sexual attraction is to the same sex? (Conversely, my sexual attraction is not a truth I have bought into. It is there. I remember when I first noticed it as a teenager. No ideology was involved).

Again, to underline what I am trying to say: there are arguments to be had about ideologies, the lies the world tells and so forth. But that is not the whole story of people's experience and self-description of the attractions they experience.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
A little tidying up on your latest comment is needed. Take care, please, when addressing another commenting with you/your language; it so easily slides into ad hominem comment. Here is your comment moderated by me:

"Father Ron Smith has left a new comment on your post "Reading carefully in Romans 14 and 15":

"Why? What people say and what is true are not always the same thing. Truth is important, self-delusion based on the ideological mischief-making of the Devil is not." - S.H. -
Precisely! So what YOU presume to say - about 'your Truth' and God's TRUTH - are not necessarily the same. The mischief-making of the Devil can be discerned on both sides of the spectra. I'm sure you have no better claim on spiritual veracity than anyone else!

"Judge not, that ye be not judged!"
"

Joshua Bovis said...

@Peter,

I honestly cannot see how those who are proponents of homosexual relationships are honouring God. Of course I realise that they say that they are, but this does not make it so.
How can a person honour God when they dishonour His Holy Scriptures by either ignoring them, denying them or twisting them to make them say what they want them to say?

Peter as you know, "belonging to the Lord" is theologically defined. If one disobeys his Word, then in practice they are rejecting the Lordship of Christ and are not honouring the Lord, nor belong to the Lord.

Respectfully Peter, it does appear that you are trying to have it both ways.

@ Ron,
I think I understand your latest post, and if the Bible is not the final authority in all matters of faith and practice then this would mean that all of us would have a subjective approach to Scripture, (i.e To me it means this and to another person it means something else).In other words The subjective approach informs our understanding of what God wants us to do, but is not finally ‘authoritative’ in an external or timeless sense; and so cannot be used as a court of appeal. And we end up with the Church deciding that God blesses something that is beyond and/or even against what the Bible say. With those promoting homosexuality is a case in point.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua
Do you consider that Christians who remarry after divorce (beyond the thin latitude shown in our Lord's and Paul's teaching) are dishonouring the Lord?

If you do then your remark above is consistent with that; if you do not, the would you concede that Christians who live in variation of Scripture might be able to 'honour the Lord'?

Besides which, I think it worth asking whether we do treat the Bible in its own right at the 'final authority' or whether we treat the Bible as we have agreed to understand it as the 'final authority'. After all, there is a case that Western Christians, especially clergy signed up to clergy pension schemes which rely on someone somewhere charging interest on loans are NOT in fact treating the Bible alone as final authority on usury!

In short: life is complicated enough for me to give fellow Christians some credence when they say they are honouring God, as I know my own attempt to do so include much variation with the strict application of Scripture!

Father Ron Smith said...

"We do not do those who struggle with same-gender attraction any favours by buying into the world's lie about innate sexual identities."

This statement, Peter, is surely verging on the slanderous - against intrinsically Gay or Lesbian people - many of them Christians - whose same-sex attraction has been experienced by them as inherent.

Perhaps a little wider-reading is needed by some of your heterosexual correspondents who obviously have no understanding of the theological struggles of some Gay Christians who earnestly wrestle with their sexual identity. From earliest experience of same-sex attraction, they have learned to bury their feelings, in an attempt to appear 'normal'. To most, this has proved an almost impossible burden - alleviated only by the new openness of some parts of the Church to try to understand their sexual dilemma.

Heterosexual critics of Gays, whose natural attraction is towards the opposite sex, would probably be most offended if someone tried to tell them that their innate sexual preference was 'unnatural', and that they just needed to get therapy in order to overcome it.
Did they deliberately choose to be heterosexual?

The question here might be, does anyone choose their innate sexual identity? Did heterosexual people actually choose to be that way? The answer is probably NO!. Therefore, do please try to use a little charity in your assessment of a Gay or Lesbian person's 'choice' to be who they actually are, sexually.

Shawn Herles said...

Peter,

"Again, to underline what I am trying to say: there are arguments to be had about ideologies, the lies the world tells and so forth. But that is not the whole story of people's experience and self-description of the attractions they experience."

I did not say it was. But affirming any kind of innate "homosexual" identity also has nothing to do with anyone's experience. It is in its totality an ideological interpretation and labeling of that experience, and one that the Church cannot buy into, especially in pastoral situations.

If a man comes to a minister and tells them that he has walked out on his wife and children for another women, because he has "fallen in love", we do him no favours by honouring his claim that merely falling in "love" with another women is sufficient reason to walk out on his family. But that of course is exactly what the world thinks in much of the modern West. It is a staple of television dramas and soaps.

Honouring a person's struggle with sin does not mean we have to honour the world's affirmation of that sin, or it's excuses for sin, and in fact does the person we are counseling harm if we do, for we place a purely ideological roadblock in front of their healing.

Ron,

"Precisely! So what YOU presume to say - about 'your Truth' and God's TRUTH - are not necessarily the same. The mischief-making of the Devil can be discerned on both sides of the spectra. I'm sure you have no better claim on spiritual veracity than anyone else!"

No I don't.

But God does.

“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Stephen Donald said...

Interesting thread of discussion Peter - and thanks for providing link to Bishop Victoria's paper. You write
" In short: life is complicated enough for me to give fellow Christians some credence when they say they are honouring God, as I know my own attempt to do so include much variation with the strict application of Scripture!" - I am with you there, brother :-)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
We might be talking on different lines. The adulterous man who walks out on his wife is a man with an innate attraction to women who chooses to act out, or act on that attraction in a sinful way.

A person with an innate (i.e. within their experience of life, normal/ordinary/everyday/natural) attraction to people of the same gender is that way inclined. Before them lie various choices re acting out or acting on that way of being (some of which are not blessed by God, but one choice includes celibacy ...). A further choice is how they might choose to describe themselves. At that point, "I am gay" could be a buying into a language much evolved through ideologies re sexuality which the Western world has (sinfully, idolatrously) bought into (including, to go back in this comment, that which implies covert approval of adultery, cf many TV programmes etc). My very simple point is that "I am gay" CAN ALSO BE a straightforward account of how I feel as a sexual being, with no ideologies involved. That statement might, for instance, be made in the confessional by a person who otherwise makes no public expression of their identity, never joins a Hero parade and so on.

It appears to me that a hesitancy to permit gay people some choice in how they describe themselves (lest they buy into ideologically-riven language) could be pastorally unhelpful.

Anonymous said...

Carl has surgically dissected your "position", Peter, and shown your inconsistency. Because you agree that the Bible's tolerance of divorce is a lot more limited than you are prepared to be, you should take a similar outlook on homosexuality. Don't you understand that? Why are you resisting this conclusion? When you write:

"...life is complicated enough for me to give fellow Christians some credence when they say they are honouring God, as I know my own attempt to do so include much variation with the strict application of Scripture!"

you fail to observe that you don't extend the same latitude to homosexuality. In other words, you are a half-hearted liberal.

There is another alternative that you don't explore: to seek to return to a godly, biblical discipline of marriage, at least where church leadership and practice are concerned.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin (and Carl)
If elected the next Pope then you can be sure that my autocratic rule over the church will be godly, biblical, consistent, wholehearted, orthodox and completely attuned to the teaching of Jesus Christ whose Vicar and Infallible interpreter I would become.

What I face in my real life is that I am a minister within a church of divided opinions, and thus I am trying to engage (wholeheartedly) in working out how to live with different opinions with openness to the fact that on some matters of sharp difference there might be credibility and integrity in those who differ from what I understand the Bible to teach. If in that whole-hearted engagement I come across as a half-hearted liberal then I will wear that insult, much preferring, of course, to be at least recognised as a half-hearted evangelical!

In my own thinking about divorce I am in fact trying to come to terms with how I might be a more godly, disciplined evangelical minister of the Word since I see approaches to divorce and remarriage I have shared in over the years to be a 'weak' point in claiming to be a (consistent) biblical evangelical.

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Peter,

the flaw in both your and Ron's argument is the notion of an innate "homosexual" identity. There is no such thing.

Ron,

"This statement, Peter, is surely verging on the slanderous - against intrinsically Gay or Lesbian people - many of them Christians - whose same-sex attraction has been experienced by them as inherent."

No, it is not slanderous, it is discernment.

"Perhaps a little wider-reading is needed by some of your heterosexual correspondents who obviously have no understanding of the theological struggles of some Gay Christians who earnestly wrestle with their sexual identity."

I have read widely, I have also known many people who so identify, some of whom have been or still are personal friends.

But as Christians we have a responsibility to separate truth from falsehood.

"From earliest experience of same-sex attraction, they have learned to bury their feelings, in an attempt to appear 'normal'. To most, this has proved an almost impossible burden - alleviated only by the new openness of some parts of the Church to try to understand their sexual dilemma."

The "new openness" you speak of is not an attempt to understand those who struggle with same-gender attraction, it is an attempt to label them for ideological reasons so they can be pressed into service of the Liberal-Lefts culture war.

"Heterosexual critics of Gays, whose natural attraction is towards the opposite sex, would probably be most offended if someone tried to tell them that their innate sexual preference was 'unnatural'"

God made us men and women, not "heterosexuals" or "homosexuals" or "pansexuals" or "bisexuals" or "pedophiles."

Sexual behavior is not ontological.

"The question here might be, does anyone choose their innate sexual identity?"

No, because there is no such thing as an innate "sexual" identity. However, I am not saying that same-gender attraction is freely chosen. The causes of this form of brokenness are obviously formed in early childhood, and through subsequent experiences, especially around puberty. Nobody chooses such experiences.

Often same-sex attraction arises from faulty gender identification in early childhood.

On the MPC course I listened to two people who struggle with same-gender attraction clearly lay out the experiences in their lives that helped form this attraction, and in both cases the root cause was a physically and/or emotionally absent parent of the same gender.

Thus Lesbianism is often an attempt to get psychological and emotional affirmation from other women that they did not get from their own mothers. And male same-gender attraction is often an attempt to get psychological and emotional affirmation from other men that they did not get from their fathers.

I have read widely enough, and listened to enough people with same-gender attraction, both friends and otherwise, to know that this pattern of faulty gender identification in childhood is a very common experience.

So, in a pastoral situation our response to someone who says "I am gay" should be; "No, your a child of God through the blood of Christ. Your experience of same-gender attraction is certainly PART of who you are, but not the whole story and not determinant of your true identity in Christ."

Anonymous said...

I meant no insult, Peter, and I am sorry if I came across that way. I am no paragon of principle. In my time I have solemnised the marriages of couples with no evident Christian faith and baptised the children of couples with no evident Christian faith. I have usually rationalised to myself what I was doing, knowing that the greatest sins of today, and thus to be shunned as such publicly, are "judgmentalism", "legalism" and "narrow-mindedness", and I followed the popular wisdom that I should do everything I could to encourage "goodwill toward the church." But I felt no great enthusiasm for essentially being a 'performer' for someone else's non-Christian private family ritual. I also know a vicar who incurred disaffection from a faithful parishioner because the vicar would not officiate at his marriage to a (non-Christian) divorcee.
In the end, it is up to individuals and their conscience whether to marry according to the laws of the State, and they should not seek religious sanction for their actions if they are problematic. But that probably sounds "judgmental" etc.

Martin

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

As I said in an earlier post, those within the church who endorse what God condemns (in this case homosexual behaviour) are also proponents of a gospel that is not the Gospel, it is a gospel without repentance.

The issue at hand is not Christians divorcing (which by the way is certainly worth a discussion some time) but is to do with the very definition of the Gospel.

In fact I would say that this whole battle within the Anglican communion regarding sexuality is not about sexuality at all, it is about the Gospel, the Lordship of Christ and the authority of the Scriptures. I seriously don't think we can ignore this and say "Oh well, we have differences, let's just remember that we are united as Anglicans and remember Romans 14-15).

We are not called to create unity, but to maintain the unity has already been established by God through the Apostolic Gospel. This I believe is crucial!

Remember in Ephesians we read that God is creating the new humanity? Remember it is Jesus substitutionary death for sinners at the cross that creates this new humanity and thus unity cannot be maintained by hunting enthusiastically for the lowest common theological denominator amongst all those who profess to be Christians (which it seems you are trying to do).
For example an ecumenical group can invite everyone of different traditions and say “what unites us is our shared faith in God”. It sounds lovely, but it is so vague and this unity is not the gospel unity. The only way it will be maintained is by no-one saying anything about anything because the moment they do, they offend and the organisational unity is destroyed. This is not the unity that we are to maintain. True unity is achieved when God’s people give their faithful allegiance and submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, and live lives consistent with the new humanity that Christ’s death on the cross has called them to live. The homosexual lifestyle is not consistent with this.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua
Our unity is a unity created by the gospel. What if, as a united people in that gospel we find that we have differences among us? Do we not then need to work those differences out as a united gospel people of God?

As I understand some Christians who share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with me, they do not understand that Scripture teaches that a stable, loving, faithful, permanent partnership between two same gendered people involves sin. Thus they would not see that they hold to a gospel without repentance.

If these brothers and sisters in Christ were to say to me, "Peter, how come you have not yet repented of your involvement in the sin of usury?" I am likely to reply that I do not consider all instances of charging interest on loans to involve sin and thus (as far as I know regarding my rather pathetic investment/equities/deposits) I am not a sinner (though I am not averse to using that term, say, around loan sharks). Are we then divided (all other things being equal about our shared commitment to Christ as Lord and Saviour) if they then say that they think I am wrong and I am actually a sinner in respect of usury?

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

Our unity is a unity created by the gospel. What if, as a united people in that gospel we find that we have differences among us?

Of course. That is why passages such as Romans 14 and 15 are so essential and important.

Do we not then need to work those differences out as a united gospel people of God?

Again, of course we do, but this is not the issue within the Anglican Communion. The battle may be over Homosexuality at the moment, but this battle that is being waged in the context of the greater war - which is the War over the Bible, where we have two gospels being proclaimed.

At risk of repeating myself, the gospel of those who are proponents of homosexual marriage and homosexuality as a lifestyle that God blesses is gospel of inclusiveness, where there is no need of conversion, there is no need to repent because there is no sin and there is no need of the cross.

And because this so called gospel is being proclaimed in churches by Bishops, Diocese'and Priests the result is that people in the pews believe this false gospel, believe that they are truly Christians and that the gay life style is compatible with the Kingdom of God. And using a gay couple as an example, of course they would not see the need to repent of their lifestyle and relationship. That is my point.

As for your usury comments, again this is not the issue at hand, and it seems like you are throwing this out as a justification for trying to have it both ways.

Joshua

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I will not publish a comment which uses the word 'bigot'.

The matter you sought to address in the comment I am not publishing is a genuine philosophical question about identity. Thus the issue should be addressed without the use of the word 'bigot.'

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua,
"At risk of repeating myself, the gospel of those who are proponents of homosexual marriage and homosexuality as a lifestyle that God blesses is gospel of inclusiveness, where there is no need of conversion, there is no need to repent because there is no sin and there is no need of the cross. "

If all proponents of same sex marriage were teaching a gospel of this kind (no need of conversion etc) then I do not think I would have much truck with the difference between my view and those who think otherwise. But I do not find all proponents so neatly categorised, thus I feel pressed to take them seriously as fellow brothers and sisters of a gospel calling for conversion, requiring repentance and so forth.

Usury being invoked by me was simply to make the point that ethics/gospel are tricky matters when we start looking for people to repent of sins we do not ourselves commit.

carl jacobs said...

Peter

Why is homosexuality a tricky moral issue in your mind? Why is incest not a tricky moral issue in your mind? The only difference you have mentioned seems to be "Many people disagree with me about homosexuality." This leaves open the question as to whether you would change your opinion about the nature of incest if large numbers of people started to change their minds. Remember that 50 years ago it was inconceivable that large numbers of people would justify homosexual behavior.

As consent becomes more and more the sole criterion by which sexual morality is determined, the likelihood increases that consensual incest will be justified. Then what will you do? Will you suddenly move incest into the 'contested' category? How could you possibly resist that conclusion? If you insist on resisting that conclusion, then why are you currently justifying homosexuality? What does that say about your current moral evaluation of the practice?

carl

Shawn Herles said...

"Same-sex attraction is a sexual attraction. It is not just about feelings of love. The debate said a lot about love and commitment. What did it say about sex?

Same-sex attraction is based on sexual disorientation. It is not a sexual orientation. In same-sex sexual activity, the instinct for reproduction and the sexual organs involved do not find their proper focus or use.

Non-fertile marriages are therefore not an argument for same-sex marriages, because even in non-fertile marriages the sexual instinct and the sexual organs follow their natural use.

Infertility in marriage is usually the result of a debilitating issue, such as the effects of old age or illness. Same-sex marriages, even at their most healthy, will always be ‘infertile’ by definition. They therefore are not ‘equal’ marriages.

Bisexuality is generally included in the list of alternative ‘sexualities’, along with gay, lesbian and transgendered (hence LGBT). But if marriage is an exclusive sexual relationship, and is only for two people, how does this grant ‘equality’ to bisexuals? On the other hand, if ‘equality’ is the reason for changing our concept of marriage, ought this not to allow either non-fidelity within a marriage of two people or marriages that include more than two people?

Same-sex marriage is unnecessary, given the provisions afforded by civil partnerships. The motivation for redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships is so that these relationships can be treated as essentially ‘the same as’ heterosexual relationships (hence ‘equal marriage’).

The deliberate effect of this legislation is effectively to impose a doctrinaire view of same-sex attraction and relationships which does not square with the facts of nature.

The doctrinaire approach being taken to same-sex relationships, reinforced by the introduction of same-sex marriage, will severely impact the liberties of those who taken a contrary view. Inevitably it will be deemed an ‘offence’ to question the rightness of same-sex acts if they are just what happens in a same-sex marriage. The freedom to take a ‘common sense’ view will ultimately be lost.

For Christian believers, marriage is an institution which enshrines God’s intention for a man and a woman, in an exclusive, faithful and mutually supportive relationship, to express their sexuality and to bear and nurture children. Ultimately, it is a ‘holy mystery’ reflecting the relationship between Christ and the Church. Same-sex marriage confounds that model and rejects God’s pattern."

http://ugleyvicar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/what-to-say-in-wake-of-commons-vote-on.html

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
I think you are right. If a significant number of people argued for the propriety of consensual incest I would take them seriously and work out how I remained in church with them. (Even though I thought them wrong as I think same sex partnerships are wrong).

The point I am trying to make, however badly I am expressing it, is that I live (we all commenting here) live in a world in which a significant number of Christians in Western contexts think same sex partnerships are fine. Further (and this might be a point of difference with the hypothetical situation in which incest is popularly supported) many of those Christians subscribe to some quite well thought out arguments (which I disagree with) including a provocative response to any claim that their arguments are justifying accommodation with the world, "Aren't you doing the same re divorce and remarriage?" (a point I find harder to dispute as I feel I am caught up in a certain amount of accommodation over divorce/remarriage).

I think I have tried to say here that one option in these things is to divide in such a way as to belong to a pure, unsullied church in which no compromises are found and no accommodations made. It is not an option that I wish to avail myself of at this time as I feel called to live in the full complexity of Christian community.

Shawn Herles said...

There is no real unity on the global Anglican Community.

We are at war.

The Episcopal Church's Civil War on its Orthodox Members:

"Politeness, civility, talk of via media or "why can't we all just get along" have vanished out the stain-glassed window; there is now no more pretense. Episcopal Church leaders like Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori have lined up their ecclesiastical bazookas and aimed them squarely at bishops like Jack Iker, Keith Ackerman, Bob Duncan and, more recently, Mark Lawrence with killer intent. There is now no mercy, no more attempt even to take prisoners, or be nice (a phony Episcopal doctrine now ended), or an offer of an ecclesiastical handshake to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord."

A VOL reporter who came up against the revisionist mentality of the Episcopal Church while researching a book on The Episcopal Church, was told to "f**k off" by David Booth Beers, Jefferts Schori's personal attorney when she inquired into TEC's legal spending.

It is now open warfare in The Episcopal Church with some of the harshest language ever uttered from the lips of an ecclesiastical leader."

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=17179#.URoez5Y1NZ4

Shawn Herles said...

"Secondly, on all sides of the controversy, people are honouring God."

It is clear to me at least that many are not remotely concerned with honouring God, nor do they even care what God says on the subject of marriage, as recent debates here on ADU show.

Romans 14-15 deals with relatively minor matters of conscience.

But in dealing with false gospels (and in the so-called "gospel" of radical inclusivity, we are dealing with a false Gospel) Paul does not counsel unity, instead he says:

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
We each have experience of the breadth of our church, so I appreciate that you "read" the situation differently to me re people honouring God or not as they present different approaches to questions of human sexuality.

Perhaps, with respect to my own recent experience at the Hui, things are skewed a little: dioceses are generally responsible as they send people who both represent the range of views within their own region and exemplify excellent commitment to the gospel. Thus my experience at the hui would not constitute evidence for the clarity with which you see things!

carl jacobs said...

Peter

If a significant number of people argued for the propriety of consensual incest I would take them seriously and work out how I remained in church with them.

And so you would deliberately ignore Paul's command to put such a one out of the church and to do so for his own good. Why do you work so hard to make Romans 14 invalidate 1 Corinthians 5? Didn't Paul write both?

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
Paul did indeed write both (as I touch on in this morning's post).

I do not in anyway want to invalidate Paul/1 Corinthians 5.

But in the circumstance that many Christians supported and/or practised incest, it would be a curious position to take to seek to expel everyone of them. Especially if I were the minority and they were the majority. And while it could be that I left such a church and joined another one which seemed to be clearer about the matter, what would I do if I then discovered hidden sympathies for those in incestuous relationships. Should I then keep moving on?

I do not know precisely what your experience of church life is, Carl, but my experience is that some of the most conservative Christians are loath to think in terms of condemnation, let alone act to expel their gay brothers or sisters in Christ. This is particularly so where a Christian has a close family member or friend who identifies as gay. Thus I think it better to live within the messiness of modern church life, with its range of attitudes, then to seek the option of the 'pure, unsullied church.'

Shawn Herles said...

"I do not know precisely what your experience of church life is, Carl, but my experience is that some of the most conservative Christians are loath to think in terms of condemnation, let alone act to expel their gay brothers or sisters in Christ."

I agree. Condemning or expelling people who struggle with same-gender attraction, even if they have unwittingly bought into the lie of an innate orientation, would be wrong, and a failure on the part of the Church.

This does not mean we do not speak the truth in love, but contrary to liberal ideology, speaking the truth in love, including naming homosexual sex as sin, is not condemnation.

But given that we all struggle with sins that, for whatever reason, God does not immediately heal or take away, then we must walk alongside those who also do so, including those who experience same-gender attraction, striving together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Keep in mind that I am speaking of individuals here, and not the wider issue of the culture war that the liberal-left has brought upon the Church.

MichaelA said...

I am trying to work out why there is any analogy to be drawn between food and sexuality, as an issue for Christians. Unless there is, how can Romans 14-15 be applicable?

The particular food issues about which Paul was concerned were matters on which the Scriptures gave no clear command. Hence it became a matter of conscience for believers.

But how is it suggested that issues like homosexuality or other sexual issues fit into the same category? Until we show that they do (which might well be possible, but I don't think anyone has turned their mind to, yet) then we are premature in discussing Romans 14-15.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am moderating your last comment. Certain words generate heat not light.
P

""Why is homosexuality a tricky moral issue in your mind? Why is incest not a tricky moral issue in your mind?"

This is such a silly question as to hardly merit further comment. [Editor's Note: why "silly"? Incest is not unknown in modern society; nor in the Bible ...].

I must say here, that Shawn Herles' consistent posts that hijack material from other web-sites (vide his wholesale plug for the opinion of 'Ugley Vicar'), to prove a point he is trying to make, is a wee bit disconcerting to those of us who [prefer to engage directly with the opinions of other commenters].*

A blog owner is certainly entitled to use articles (as I do, myself) to begin a new conversation; however, for commentators to cut and paste whole articles from someone who shares their particular [perspective, may not be very useful for people trying to [discern the truth]."

*Editor's Note: Sometimes others say better than we can say ourselves what we believe.

Shawn Herles said...

"I must say here, that Shawn Herles' consistent posts that hijack material from other web-sites "

I strongly object to the word "hijack". That is a unfairly pejorative way to describe sharing information.

"for commentators to cut and paste whole articles from someone who shares their particular"

I have never copied an entire article. I always copy only a portion and provide a link to the entire article. That is usually considered a reasonable thing to do on most blogs.

I think this is all just the opposite of Ron's claim to want to engage directly with the views of others.

Points made by others are not met with civil engagement, but tiresome accusations of others supposed personal faults (judgementalism, hubris, bigotry,) or accusations that another persons points are just "silly" and not worth responding to.

Exactly the same approach can now be seen on the "What is Clean" thread, where Ron has responded to Martin with accusations of arrogance and judgmentalism.

Ad hominem is not engagement.

Peter Carrell said...

Shawn: I shouldn't have let the word "hijack" through, and I apologise for that.

Ron: it is not on, and I should not have posted your words re arrogance etc. you are more than entitled to your feelings about what things are written here, but expressing those feelings may serve no particular purpose re the continuation of conversation.

carl jacobs said...

FRS

This is such a silly question as to hardly merit further comment.

You see, there is this thing called 'context.' I asked that 'silly question' of Peter because he agrees with me about the moral nature of homosexuality. I was pushing him on the obvious inconsistency in his position. I would never have asked that question of you. I would have approached the subject in a different way. I also would have anticipated your attempted differentiation. But I didn't need to do that with Peter. I could make simplifying assumption.

I tried to engage you for months, FRS. But I found that you wouldn't address arguments, and you wouldn't answer question. Instead you would employ breezy dismissals like:

This is such a silly question as to hardly merit further comment.

So I gave up.

carl

Father Ron Smith said...

Carl, I will try to reply more civilly to your last post, by putting my view of the essential difference between 'Christian' opinion on the morality of 'incest' as compared with 'homosexuality'

I have just one argument to begin with: There are many more Christians who would agree that homosexuality is a morally neutral state of being than would agree with the moral neutrality of the incidence of incest.

I have yet to hear of any Baptised Christian who would ever counsel that intentional incest is in any way an acceptable moral situation.

There are many baptised Christians who admit their homosexual status, and many more - who do not share their sexual orientation - who yet believe, sincerely, that our human sexual-orientation is a 'given', and therefore, morally neutral.

I know that won't satisfy you, nor Martin, nor Shawn, nor many other conservative Evangelicals who subscribe to this web-site; But it represents the actuality for many Christians around the Western world

Anonymous said...

"Exactly the same approach can now be seen on the "What is Clean" thread, where Ron has responded to Martin with accusations of arrogance and judgmentalism."

I long since ceased to care or pay any attention to what Mr Smith has to say, since he has demonstrated for a long time that he is unable and/or unwilling to engage with orthodox, biblical Christians (other than by making judgmental ad hominem accusations against their character), and I have urged others not to waste their sweetness on the desert air. I even urged Peter to show Mr Smith the red card, but Peter seems to thing Mr Smith's comments advance discussion somehow - notwithstanding the fact that Peter seems to be constantly editing them for unacceptable remarks.
It's all a bit tiresome, but it reminds me of my son's education when he was often getting into scrapes because other boys knew how to 'wind him up' with provocative comments. Eventually he learned to ignore them and completed his schooling successfully.
Mr Smith doesn't plan to give up his habit, even for Lent, so I must follow my son's hard-won wisdom. I have sermons to write, students to teach, and books to study - more than enough for my time. Valete.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin: I am sorry to see you go, but you are always welcome back. You always give me something to think about with your clear, logical thinking.

Hi Ron: No more editing from me. If even one word of a comment you make is unacceptable, I will simply delete without further explanation. For a guide, forgo the following: arrogant, bigot, obsession, silly, stupid.