Thursday, May 29, 2014

As all Trade Unionists know, Solidarity is vital

A lovely clergy conference at Pudding Hill had a tiny dark cloud about the size of a man's hand when a colleague told me that news already circulating about a vicar stepping down from a parish as a result of  General Synod's motion 30 was now News in the NZ Herald. The story is here.

I will come right out and say it. I think leaving one's post at this time is doing conservative Anglicans no favours. Let's remember what General Synod did. When it was charging for the line to score a try called "blessings of same sex relationships" it pulled up short when it realised that our church would split if that happened. In the pause it gave itself it worked out that there might just be a way forward in which those who agreed with blessings  and those who did not might be able to stay in the one church. Let's call that a favour to conservatives.

If conservatives now start to peel away from the church it would be utterly reasonable for those who only reluctantly agreed to the favour to wonder why they bothered.

But to any such regretful members of General Synod I say, one swallow does not a summer make.

Let the reader understand: we had a most enjoyable conference down here in Christchurch. Our diversity of viewpoints did not stop us laughing or praying together. We also broke bread together and shared the common cup.

To hold conservatives and liberals together is the genius of Anglicanism. To all those Moderates in the middle, I say, Yes, you are the glue that binds!

To my fellow conservatives I want to remind you of what Trade Unionists always preach: Solidarity!

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Charlie Hughes has been one of the more outspoken in Auckland Synod with a consistent stance of "No Compromise" from previous/present Anglican doctrine. His voice from the Conservative/Evangelical group will be missed and it is to be hoped that others will not follow his example as this just gives in to the "liberal/progressive" lobby group who will no doubt see Charlie's departure as a victory.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, are you still allowing anonymous contributions here?

Kurt said...

Hopefully Mr. Hughes and his co-thinkers will not attempt to take the family silver with them as they depart for what they think will be purer, if not greener, pastures.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

carl jacobs said...

Peter

Welcome to the 'leavers vs stayers' argument - the chronic argument of conservatives in a hierarchical church taken over by liberalism. Many before you have made the same appeal to solidarity. Some listen. Some don't. The problem you have is that both positions have merit. It's a personal judgment call which action a person will consider right for his situation.

I told you this would happen. The slow steady drain would start as soon as your church leadership approved this behavior. It won't be fast but it will be steady. And it won't be reversed.

And l wouldn't call this decision a favor to conservatives. Liberals need access to money. They went as far as they could without jeopardizing their funding stream. And, quite frankly, if conservatives really wanted to bring the leadership to heel, all they would have to do is stop sending money up the chain. They should be reallocating money to orthodox parishes in need, and not to the bureaucracy that caused this.

Yes, it would be divisive. But in this case division is necessary. It's coming anyway. One way or the other

carl

carl jacobs said...

He also said the church's position had not changed, with work under way to develop ways in which clergy opposed to same sex marriage did not have to bless the relationships.

Interesting non-quote from the Bishop. (The journalist shouldn't have summarized.) He is correct that the formal teaching of the church has not changed. However, the functional teaching has changed and that is what counts.

Also, the problem isn't how to find a way so that opponents don't have to bless homosexual relationships. Non-participation is not the point. Rather the point is focused on the implications of being part of a church that legitimizes such behavior. It doesn't matter if I don't do it. I am ostensibly in communion with Bob and he does do it. So what then is my moral responsibility in regard to testifying for the truth? What is my responsibility to the observer who might interpret my continued fellowship as tacit acknowledgement that the argument is within the bounds of acceptable orthodoxy?

Those questions won't be answered by opting out.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron/Anonymous,
Good point, Ron.
Anonymous, please use at least a first name.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt,
No silver will go. There is a sound, significant group of parishioners and priests who are not leaving the parish. There is no indication that any attempt to take the 'silver' is in mind.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
I don't think the way we are proceeding has anything to do with money. To cut a long story about the complexities of local, diocesan and national finances in our church short, whether liberals or conservatives left our church en bloc, without taking property or funds, I think they would do just fine relying on their continued offertories.

Jean said...

Personally I think it is to soon. Ultimately one can only allow each person the sovereignty to follow their own conscience. With the option in the motion for priests who hold such convictions as Charlie Hughes to reserve the right to maintain integrity in their own position by choosing not to bless same sex unions. I suppose it comes down to whether they believe their personal teaching position is compromised because they are associated with a body containing an opposing belief.

Although I know what I am about to mention is not the majority Anglican viewpoint I was more surprised at the following article:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11261040
In it the minister infers she does not believe in the virgin birth and reduces God to a 'benevolent presence'.

No doubt such teaching has existed for a while, although I would consider it false teaching. Acknowledging each parts of the bible are written in different literary mediums and must be read as such.

To me this type of teaching is of as great a concern if not greater than the homosexual debate yet it did not even reach general synod.

In everday life the teachings my local church adheres to are what I consider the most important. Biblically though the apostles did issue warnings to churches who started to diverge from the preaching and practice of the gospel.

Zane Elliott said...

Peter,
Charlie was clear long before GS/THW that if the ACANZP expressed a desire to change its practice (and thus its doctrine) on this issue that he couldn't in good conscience remain.

I understand where he is coming from - in good faith, he made serious vows when he was ordained. The goalposts are shifting now, and so Charile has left. It makes me sad, but I understand where he;'s coming from - at times I feel the same as he does.

I guess it leaves the question we all need to ask -If I was thinking about ordination again today would I be ordained into an ACANZP where SS relationships were recognised as being blessed by God (even if not blessed in a church service) in our formal teaching and liturgy (thus doctrine)?

If the answer is no, perhaps yu stand a little closer to Charlie than you thought. If the answer is yes, then it can be business as usual.

Too black and white? I'm told that'll change after I have a significant birthday later this year!

As an aside, I've contacted the media reps of the ACANZP, and the Herald directly re: the misinformation in the article which states that SS Relationships can now be blessed if approved by a bishop. Confusion reigns!

Zane Elliott said...

Kurt,
815 must be thrilled that your concern so mirrors their own.

No need to fear, Our Pakeha Archbishop has already given clear support for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin's new Provisional Bishop +David Rice, (formerly Bishop of Waiapu) chasing down the cash of the majority of parishes in San Joaquin who left TEC to continue bolstering the 9 progressive parishes that stayed.

If Charlie takes so much as a communion wafer,purificator or liturgically coloured bookmark I'm sure our leadership can ask for advice from old friends on the best way to proceed.

Father Ron Smith said...

Here is the real point at issue in our controversy on S/S Issues:

"This isn't an anti-gay issue. This is a pro-Bible issue. There are seven completely clear statements in the Bible about same sex acts which are all disapproving." - C.Hughes -

I think the clue here is Charlie Hughes' self-identification - not as an Anglican priest in ACANZP, but as a 'pastor' - such as might be found in any non-episcopal, conservative, church situation. This makes him more likely to oppose any new initiative in our Church to seek justice for a minority of people whose intrinsic orientation is other than heterosexual.

I applaud your own stance on this issue, Peter, which allows for a non-dogmatic eirenic understanding of human gender and sexuality to be included within the context of a broader theological range than that of 'Sola Scriptura' within our Church - which is obviously the understanding of Mr. Hughes.

With his own perspective on such issues, I'm not sad that Mr. Hughes is leaving us. I'm glad that he is able to continue to stand by his own conscience - which, in the end, all of us must do. May God bless him! We cannot hold on to people whose conscience will not allow them to remain. This goes for all of us! If things were different in ACANZP's polity, I might even find myself unable to continue in conscientious amity.

Glad you enjoyed the clergy get-together, Peter. God's grace can overcome all differences - if we determine to follow Christ.

Father Ron Smith said...

"And l wouldn't call this decision a favor to conservatives. Liberals need access to money. They went as far as they could without jeopardizing their funding stream. And, quite frankly, if conservatives really wanted to bring the leadership to heel, all they would have to do is stop sending money up the chain" - carl jacobs -

At last! An admission that the conservative mission in Gafcon countries is funded by American fundamentalists. One always thought this was the case. Now we have someone like carl admitting it.

Carl, we, in New Zealand are not so susceptible to monetary bribes. Our initiatives are based on the exigency of the gospel - of justice, love and peace for ALL.

There will be a loss of dissenting conservatives to other religious organisations, but they will not be transferring to any Anglican congregations that I know of. Not do I think there will be any wholesale defection of parishes.

"God has gone up with a merry noise, Alleluia! He has gone up with the sound of the trumpet, Alleluia, Alleluia!"

Bryden Black said...

The matter of division and/or leaving is not new. For all that, here are two links which address a series of responses, the first topical, the second slightly more general. Re the latter: I like the two quotes, one from Pusey 2/3 way down, the other from Keble 80% way through.

http://standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/31335

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/06/not-so-secular-sweden?utm_source=First+Things+Subscribers&utm_campaign=98dca3bd0b-5_20_20145_20_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28bf775c26-98dca3bd0b-172525621

At root, the timing thing is not paramount, IMHO; what lies at the heart of it is betrayal and blindness, confusion and confession. Just so, those three sets of questions in my Tuesday, May 20 Response, as kindly posted by our host. Should we care to try to address them during this gracious reprieve granted us by GS/HW, then perhaps some of our confusion might be alleviated as our blindness lifts, so that our richer confession counters any previous betrayals.

Zane Elliott said...

Fr. Ron,

do you really think that parishes won't leave an ACANZP which so changes its DNA it fails to uphold Jesus' teaching as passed down in Holy Scripture?

I guess we mix in rather different circles. Your conservative contacts must be different to the people I hang out with. That said I even know of Anglo-Catholics who will find themselves unable to remain in an ACANZP which tries to hold together 'two integrities' (or should I say two gospels?).

I think Peter's rallying cry above, for solidarity, has a two year time limit, after that I am certain, there will be movement. Movement of individuals, clergy and lay, movement of whole parishes, potentially a Tikanga, perhaps a diocese, if our Church continues on this trajectory.

I hope and pray it doesn't come to that, but I think you're mistaken Ron, if you actually believe that faithful, orthodox Anglicans won't react.

Peter Carrell said...

Ron: You are misunderstanding what money Carl is talking about. He is talking about the relationship between parish offertories and diocesan coffers. Nothing to do with GAFCON.

Zane: Yes, I think you are being too 'black and white'. Life is messy; sexual lives even more so. To all those who think they don't want to be part of a church which approves (albeit in one 'structure' but not another) same sex relationships, I ask whether you want to be part of a separating action which conveys a condemnation of those who take the Bible seriously enough to enter into a lifelong commitment? Actions speak as loud as words. People's lives are at stake! the church (it would appear) has been party to a culture which has led to suicides over these matters. Does being 'black and white' stem the tide of those suicides? Is there another way, possibly being charted by GS/HW, which enables the church to offer, across its diversity, a more nuanced and pastorally sensitive view to our loved ones who are gay?

But on the matter of solidarity for at least two years, you understand me!

Father Ron Smith said...

Zane, in answer to your mooted possibility of the likelihood of defections from Anglican congregations - en masse - from ACANZP; I still think this very unlikely. You have already admitted that, in your own area of ministry you could not resign from ACANZP and retain your present post.

Thus, your defection would incur a cost that not many Anglican clergy might be prepared to pay - for the upholding of their convictions on gender and sexuality.

I whole-heartedly agree with our host, that the Church has already been the direct cause of suffering to a class of people who already are vulnerable to stark social criticism. these are the sort of people Our Lord seemed to embrace!

Kurt said...

Well, Zane, according to the blog-site Religion Clause, which touts itself as the source of “Objective coverage of church-state and religious liberty developments, with extensive links to primary sources,” the schismatic Anglican Diocese Holding Corporation’s legal run in San Joaquin is pretty much over, with or without the presence of Bishop Rice.

Of course they can appeal, but a positive outcome for them is highly unlikely. Thus far none of the various schismatic groups’ legal claims have ultimately been substantiated in these property disputes. The full Religion Clause statement is here:
http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2014/05/episcopal-church-wins-lawsuit-over-san.html

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

I notice, Bryden, that the writer of your proffered article on the 'Stand Firm' blog, seems to have followed a very peripatetic spiritual life-style - rather than 'standing firm' in any one place for long enough to have become grounded in faith reliability.

After the Baptists, Episcopalians - and now the Roman Catholic Church; it may not be too long before he gets dissatisfied with them and looks further afield - to the Orthodox, perhaps. I, myself, wouldn't put too much faith in an advocate of Stand Firm who seems to have a pair of skates on. One may never find a faith that is compatible with one's own likes.

There's a lot to be said for the Benedictine philosophy of religion which includes a vow of stability.

Zane Elliott said...

Peter,
I'm surprised you make the argument above regarding suicide committed by those who are same-sex attracted. You've backed me into a corner I can't even try to move from without looking like I somehow condone or approve or hope to see that as an outcome for people who are undoubtedly loved by God, and a part of our parishes and ministries, and others who we hope to share the good news of Jesus Christ with.

Your suggestion that a lifelong commitment somehow makes something the Bible condemns as unholy a bit more holy baffles me. Should we say the same for other unholy behavior and call it 'blessed'?

For any unholiness, like the many unholy behaviours I engage in, I believe, the cure is Christ Jesus, who works in us what is pleasing to the Father when we submit to his Lordhsip. That means taking captive those words, thoughts and deeds which are contrary to his ways and actively engaging in being different. Maybe that is just too hard in the area of human sexuality, which as you rightly say above is messy - but I'm certainly going to go on wrestling with bringing my own sexual desires and practice into line with the teaching of Scripture. I don't say that to sound self-righteous, but to offer hope to brothers and sisters in Christ who are same-sex attracted, or struggling with other sexual sin. I pray that not one more would take their life. In Christ there is new identity, love, and forgiveness. Perhaps not acceptance of certain behaviours, but surely if we engage in active change God is working out sanctification in our lives and we are being made new.

I have to believe that is possible, because I know my own failings before God! I'm not prepared to be part of a church which says 'God accepts you as you are, and expects no change from you', which might avoid a suicide, but at the same time denies the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and puts that same persons eternal life at risk.
I expect that sounds heartless, please don't read it as such, I am weeping over this situation in Christ's Church and grieve those who have taken their own lives because of hopelessness in this area.

Zane Elliott said...

Fr. Ron,
If this is indeed true 'Thus, your defection would incur a cost that not many Anglican clergy might be prepared to pay - for the upholding of their convictions on gender and sexuality,' our Church is in a more dire position than I ever thought!

When the dollar trumps our convictions about God's Word something is wrong!

Zane Elliott said...

Kurt,
Congratulations. That must be the will of God!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Zane,
It is the church as a whole which will be held to account for whether we get these things wrong!

This http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/10107182/Queer-Talk-gets-issues-on-air is an interesting reminder of the peculiarities of sexuality, as well as the tendency to suicide. One obvious point about the care we need to take on these matters is that, as best I understand life, the way the church talks about, say, greed or corrupt ambition or injustice has no impact on youth suicide. From that perspective at least, some sins are not the same as others.

I personally have no wish to make the unholy holy, but I need to ask whether the breadth of our church which accommodates remarriage of divorcees who, so to speak, fail our Lord's own standards re adultery when this occurs, might also accommodate views which are contrary to mine and to the Lord's on life long same sex partnerships.

It is not as though we are being asked to accommodate respectfully those who wish to bless gay sex in general, or gay relationships which are not akin to marriage. We are being asked to accommodate those who wish to offer the prayerful support of the church to those who seek to live an open life as a gay person yet within the constraints of commitment to fidelity etc.

Your point about new life in Christ is precisely the gospel we seek to preach and should preach. Part of the questions lying before us consists of what breadth our church offers and will offer concerning those who view the gospel, at least on this matter in a manner which sees blessings consistent with that new life and those who do not.

Bryden Black said...

I wonder Ron what you might have made of JH NEWMAN's own stepping stones along his faith journey?

Father Ron Smith said...

"..do you really think that parishes won't leave an ACANZP which so changes its DNA it fails to uphold Jesus' teaching as passed down in Holy Scripture?"
- Zane Elliot -

I wonder where you got your Bible from, Zane. Is it a special armed services issue? For the life of me, I cannot find one single word in my copy of the Bible where Jesus condemns same-sex alliances.
(Mind you, I use the Jerusalem Bible - which is probably very different from that informing the Gafcon 'Jerusalem Statement' of Faith).

A family member of mine has just published a book on the 'Song of Songs', in which he reminds his readers that there is no such thing as an objective view of the scriptures. We all bring our own prejudice/perspective into our interpretation of the underlying message.

This appears to be what you are doing with your amazing supposition about what Jesus might think of same-sex relationships.

Father Ron Smith said...

You may never know, Bryden. I just don't have time to read every single theological tome that you have so obviously enjoyed. Life is more than books - for me, at any rate.

Life experience is worth a thousand books by other people.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
You should be in the All Black's squad for this coming weekend with your ability to swerve, dummy pass and sidestep!

At stake, with both Zane and Bryden, is the question of how we objectively know what God's will is. For Newman, from a catholic starting point, that took him to Rome. What we would love to hear from you is how with your catholic presuppositions (i.e. objectivity concerning the eucharist, as a sacrament of the life of Christ continually renewing us, utterly founded on taking Jesus' words, i.e. Scripture, This is my body, as objectively if not literally true) you end in such a subjective position regarding relationships which are not marriage as objectively understood through the universal church for millennia?

That Jesus may not have said a word for or against same sex relationships is not a premise for the conclusion that he is supportive of them. Everything about sexual relationships said in the Bible points against that conclusion. Everything Jesus said about what the Old Testament says about sexual relationships points towards his support for what the whole Bible says. Church tradition agrees and thus has arrived at an objective rather than subjective (i.e. the individual pastor decides what is right and wrong) conclusion.

I suggest we need more than 'experience' to change the objective position of Christian teaching. Even more so when wading into the matter from a catholic starting point. Hence the questions we continue to ask and the dissatisfaction we continue to feel in terms of the answers you give.

All this could be put another way: if we are going to overturn Christian teaching on marriage, why stop there? Why not overturn it on ordination including presidency at communion (about which Jesus said nothing), the baptism of infants of believers (about which Jesus gave no direct guidance), and the meaning of bread and wine at communion (for which it is easy to argue that we have no sign from Jesus as to what "is" really means, especially when we note the spiritual meaning John 6 seems to lead to)?

Bryden Black said...

If I may extend Peter’s metaphor somewhat Ron. Not only do you duck and dive, weave and swerve, as proficiently as any AB winger, avoiding any possible clashes: all this takes place in the comfort of the stands, far away from the action on the pitch, where the actual ball is in hand. For, as TS Eliot famously puts it in The Dry Salvages (II): “We had the experience but missed the meaning”. Or again, as Bernard Lonergan wisely suggests (together with Wittgenstein), we need to learn to evaluate any supposed understanding of our experience.

To date I have had to conclude the many concrete balls I have tried to pass you have seldom been actually handled/evaluated, let alone understood. For example, my latest: JH Newman was chosen as another famous example of a conversion to RCC. Nor do the parallels to Mr GG end there: he too began his Christian faith journey as a virtual Calvinist. Of course, I do not suppose Mr GG will finish up a canonized saint ... Analogies are only that ...! All of which I sense deserves a bit more engagement than some derisory comment about “tomes” - which bespeaks more of the crass NZ habit of trying to cut down ‘perceived tall poppies’, akin to hecklers in the stands who claim to have had a better view than the referee who was four feet away from the action. Come on Ron; please actually play - the ball ...

Father Ron Smith said...

Dodging your summary judgement on my argumentational dexterity, Peter, I would like to recommend you and you esteemed readers to view this video - one of a series of 4 from St. Paul's Cathedral, London, given by retired Bishops of the Church of England.

The one I would like you to click on is that by Bishop Tom Butler,
formerly Bishop of Southwark, who gives his considered opinion on the problems encountered in the proposition for an Anglican Covenant:

http://www.stpauls.co.uk/News-Press/Latest-News/What-I-want-to-say-now-retired-bishops-speak-out



Father Ron Smith said...

re your latest question, Peter, on why should the extant theology of marriage move from its binary construct, when I may not be so keen on changing the theology of the Eucharist and priesthood,

Perhaps I am wrong on this, but I do believe that the latter two functions are concerned with our sacramental identification with Jesus as bearers of the Tradition of the Church - something to do with the transmission of that tradition (part of which might be the need to be updated to include women as also capable of taking that role).

However, marriage would seem to be more concerned with the monogamous commitment of one person to another in a faithful relationship - in one context with the capacity to bear fruit in progeny, and in another (same-sex relationship) the capacity to bear fruit in companionship and faithful love of one person for another.

Both civil and religious marriages do not always require a commitment to produce children, or even to be open to that possibility.(The Church, for instance, does not require that a couple presenting for marriage be capable of pro-creation).

Comparison of every human marriage with the connotation of biblical relationship between Jesus and The Bride can be rather confusing - considering that this is seen in Scripture as a post-mortem, non-gender specific, relationship of The Christ with the Faithful.

In this context, I am just partway through a new book on the biblical Song of Songs by my English clergy brother-in-law, Graeme Watson, whose 'The Song of Songs - A Contemplative Guide' is now available through Amazon/SPCK. In his book Graeme hints at the non-specificity of gender in the basic relationship between God & humans.

The binary model of sexuality is, of course, the basic model for human procreation, but divine love is not restricted to this human concept - Deo gratias!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I now happily acknowledge that you have accepted the pass and sought neither to swerve or sidestep. (I also happily acknowledge your humility in how you respond.) But a thundering great tackle is coming your way!

The 'tackle' consists of pointing out that the common link between sacrament, ordination and marriage is their shared sense of the commandment of God being obeyed.

To raise questions about gender specificity and what have you is all very well, but does this amount to a new authority to change the commandment of God?

After all, on, say, ordination, there are plenty of challenges to the churches who share a catholic understanding of ordination. On the sacrament there are Zwinglian and like alternatives. To hold to a catholic understanding of these matters raises a question why one would maintain such an understanding on two of the three and let the third go on the basis of new understandings of gender. In your last sentence you admit that these new understandings do not take a way a fundamental fact about the creation of gender!

In short: I admire your refusal to swerve here; but I cannot agree that your answer amounts to a catholic advance in theological understanding.

Father Ron Smith said...

"For any unholiness, like the many unholy behaviours I engage in, I believe, the cure is Christ Jesus, who works in us what is pleasing to the Father when we submit to his Lordhsip." - Zane Elliot -

Zane, the very fact that you engage in the present tense - 'behaviours I engage in' - You will see the problem I have with your judgement of others' sins (perceived or actual) which, in the sight of God are no less nor more God'less than any others.

Your knowledge of the fact that 'The cure lies in Jesus Christ' seems not to have stopped you from continuing to sin!

Alas, That is the situation of all of us. It has been said that Christ only has sinners to preach the Gospel!

What really is at stake here may be that what you consider 'sin' may not be the perception of every Christian - No matter how many times you appeal to the scriptures for enlightenment, there will always be a contrary view to be seriously considered - in the light of new understanding of gender and sexuality.

Zane Elliott said...

Peter,
I'm still struggiling with your argument that evanglicalsin the ACANZP ought to co-exist with those who approve of, and will bless SS relationships because if we don't people who are SSA are likely to take their own lives.

Perhaps with that in mind we should write to the General Synod and ask them to renege on their committment to disinvest in fossil fuels. Caucasian males who are middle-aged + and become unemployed, or suffer significant financial loss are at a very high risk of suicide (I'm thinking of oil company exectutives here). Can we really pursue a justice for our Church if this might be an outcome?

When you say,
'It is not as though we are being asked to accommodate respectfully those who wish to bless gay sex in general, or gay relationships which are not akin to marriage. We are being asked to accommodate those who wish to offer the prayerful support of the church to those who seek to live an open life as a gay person yet within the constraints of commitment to fidelity etc.'

I am left thinking what else? Can we, should we, bless per-marital couples who are in active sexual relationships, but are living in fidelity?

Do we Dispnese with marriage all together and start to accept de-facto relationships as chaste and appropriate for God's people?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Zane,
I do not agree with the decision to disinvest in fossil fuel companies [unless bike riding to pastoral visits is made compulsory :)].

If you do not see a special case for considering how many teenagers may be taking their lives because recognition of gay orientation in a heteronormative society then this conversation may be difficult to pursue ... but I would like to think that both as a pastor and as a minister in your particular sphere of service, you recognise such a factor.

A man and a woman living in a de facto relationship have the opportunity to marry when the discipline of the church presses itself against their domestic arrangements. Two men or two women in a similar relationship do not have the option to marry. Are they to be celibate or to continue living together, perhaps with the prayers of a sympathetic pastor in support?

Our church is divided on the options re gay couples, but hopefully is not divided on the options regarding a heterosexual couple. The question before us is whether we can co-exist with both options re gay couples. I am not at all sure that if we answer Yes to the question, we are thereby committed to different answers for other situations.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Zane
Apropos of our conversation here, this post by Bishop Kelvin is very interesting, not least for the dialogue in the comments, between himself and Rosemary Behan, which touches on the matter of teen suicides.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Peter, for acknowledging my effort to stay 'on the ball' with some arguments here. However, as to your further challenge, that:

"The 'tackle' consists of pointing out that the common link between sacrament, ordination and marriage is their shared sense of the commandment of God being obeyed."

- Only one of these charisms has been directly authorised by Jesus - that of the Eucharist.

After His own calling of the disciples into ministry, it was the insitution of The Church that has called subsequent ordinands to share in the ministry.

Both Eucharist and Ordination are part of God's provision for the sharing of Christ with the Church.

However, there is no specific call from God that ALL must enter into the bonds of any intimate heterosexual relationship akin to marriage. In fact, Jesus said more about the status of eunuchs than he did about the actual married state. Among those eunuchs were those who were so "from their mother's womb". I guess some LGBT people might be among them.

I find it interesting that Jesus - the perfect paradigm of humanity - did not choose to marry a woman. His best friend was a man - Saint John - the Beloved!

The question for us might be: What relationship of intimacy might God allow them to cherish and enjoy?

Bryden Black said...

Thanks indeed for beginning to take hold of a ball Ron. I refer to your comment June 2, 2014 at 7:09 PM. Yet in so doing I find two particular lines of argument curious, even ironic. How so?

1. You address the key business of “transmission” vis-à-vis priesthood and the Eucharist. Now; let’s grant for the moment the Augustinian synthesis of the early Middle Ages and the set of answers proposed to their questions of the Communication of Grace. What puzzles me however is that when you move from this realm of grace to address that other realm, of nature, you seem to dismiss the matter of transmission. For surely the institution of marriage, with its twin features of both its unitive function and its generative function, each supporting the other, has naturally to do with transmission - in a big way! The very nature of human being, with our essential historical and social aspects, requires such an institutional form of transmission.

You say that procreation is not always a marital requirement, and that naturally marriage is granted to those who may never have children. True enough; but such exceptions precisely prove the rule, as demonstrated in virtually all societies throughout human history - until the present day! What hubris is it that thinks we can suddenly behave so differently? Or is it in fact, as some have suggested, a hugely significant symptom of the death of our current culture that the business of transmission has ceased to have the pride of place it once had?

Bryden Black said...

2. The trope of Bride applied to the People of God is not incidental, and has to be gender specific, since the relationship between the divine and humanity is NOT some vague, abstract, undifferentiated bond - at least, not as far as the Triune God is concerned.

It is precisely and only the Son and Logos who becomes the Incarnate One, who is both the Mediator and the Personal embodiment of his singular Mediation between humanity and his Father. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is specifically the One who, in a “quasi-formal” as opposed to “efficient” way, causes humans to participate in the very life of God. Or again, noting a key feature of the entire NT, the Holy Spirit is the eschatological gift of the Messianic Age. Paying close attention to this, we may pick up on the fact of the Spirit’s being the ajrrabw;n (arrabōn) of our future redemption (2 Cor 1:22, Eph 1:14) - and he may be this towards us his creatures, since he is among the triune Godhead God’s very own Unsurpassable Futurity (as Robert Jenson’s trinitarian theology avers), as well as being the quintessential expression of the “desire” and “delight” between the Father and the Son. That is, in technical language, each Person of the Trinity is their irreducible proprium, uniquely differentiated, and specifically complementary to each other, such that each constitutes and is constituted by the Other.

And then that is exactly what we also find, and would expect to find, in the human creature made in the divine Image - as male and female. Human beings present either as a male or as a female - that is by far and away still our experience, even in a fallen world. And when they customarily become “one flesh” in marriage, such differentiation is crucial to the very unitive and generative reality. And such differentiation is necessary too in the Biblical trope of Spouse re the People of God’s relationship with God, through the Son and in the Spirit. It is quite simply a tragic irony that would seek such a pale ‘image’ in a same-sex relationship. Nor may such a gender neutral image reflect the true manner in which human beings become bonded into the Life and Love of the Triune God.

Our present preoccupation with trying to rationalize these things, Ron, just has not drilled down nearly deeply enough.

Father Ron Smith said...

" Can we, should we, bless per-marital couples who are in active sexual relationships, but are living in fidelity?

Do we Dispnese with marriage all together and start to accept de-facto relationships as chaste and appropriate for God's people?"

- Zane Elliot -

(a) My daughter is not married - either in the Church or by civil contract. However, she and her partner already have a child; have set up a home together; and, as far as they or I can know, have decided to remain together 'unto their lives' end'. How is that not a legitimate relationship? One of the reasons they have not entered into an official 'marriage' is because they see the problem of failed 'marriages' and don't want to go down that particular road.
They do not see 'church' marriages as having any better record than others in terms of life-long fidelity.

(b)Their 'de facto' relationship is actually - by your definition - chaste; in that they are devoted to one another and have no such relationship with other people!

Who ever said that Marriage was defined only by the Church? If it were then more than half of the world's marriages would be illicit

Glen Young said...

As members of Charlie Hughes' parish we feel priviliged to have had such a man as our vicar for the last 15 years. We certainly wish him God speed as he moves to his new congregation.
If fault is to be apportioned to anybody in this matter, it must fall at the feet of the two Auckland Bishops for their miserable failing in their Episcopal office.

Glen Young said...

Jean makes the point that we have been maintaining now for the last several years. We have made numerous complaints to the Bishop of Auckland, and on appeal to the now ex Primate regarding the heretic statements that are proceeding out of St Matthews church and their website.
Our complaints were made under the Provisions of Title D Canon 1 part C clauses 3,4.1.1 and 4.2.
Bishop Ross Bay wrote to us Dec.2012 stating that "I do not consider that those clergy are acting in ways that fail the standards of ministry in Title D Canon 1 part C. ... the Anglican expression of Christian faith in this province is a very broad one and will continue to be so".
The actions that we had complained of related to their billboards and to sermons denying the essential ingredients of our faith. The then vicar Glyn Cardy
stated that the billboards "lapoons literalism".
None of this seems to the Bishop, to fall outside of the Canons. We now have another priest, Helen Jacobi, being given free reign to follow suit, in denying the Virgin birth, etc. etc.
Pressure must be put on all the Bishops to fulfill the vows of their ordination into the Episcopal office.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen,
You are making some important observations and points for pondering. Thank you.

From a distance I do not want to criticise either Charlie Hughes (save that I wish he had waited, but I understand he is acting according to conscience) or Bishop Ross Bay ... but I do see the point that our church tends to have a bias towards tolerance of liberal doubts about core doctrines and intolerance towards conservative adherence to core doctrine.

In the end, the coalition of liberals, conservatives and moderates which make up our church may not hold together. It could help the conservatives if bishops more strongly reminded us of what we believe rather than what we may doubt.

Glen Young said...

Motion 30, which is completely outside of the Constitution and the Church of England Empowering Act; is a drive to conform the Doctrine and standards of the Anglican Church ANZP to secular and humanistic philosophies and ideologies.
We must follow Bishop Selwyn's statements in his address to the first Gen Synod in 1859.
"the establishment of the Constitution had been on the basis of mutual and voluntary compact. No one has to subscribe to it; no one has to belong. But if we choose to be members of this Province of the Anglican CHurch, we agree to the Constitution and what it declares to be foundational truths. If we reject those beliefs we are free to find another church which better fits our beliefs. We believe that the Doctrine of Marriage as explained in the Book of Common Prayer is part of that Doctrine of the Church to which all who receive a Bishops License pledge their allegiance. We do not see how that allegiance is consistent with affirming views which are clearly contrary to that Doctrine of Marriage. If one party persistently and actively takes measures to walk away from that Doctrine, we fail to see a way in which we can walk together".
Pressure must be brought to bear on these Bishops who are the primary guardians of discipline in the Anglican branch of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
If they will not fulfill the duty of protecting the Holy Writ then they should get out of it and leave it to someone who will.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,
We completely agree with your last comment and see the need for orthodox believers to be firm in our faith and not let the modern revisionists to create doubts in our mind. We are firm that our faith is not based on what the Apostles thought or believed; but what they heard and saw. They heard and recorded the Words of Jesus and they saw the risen Christ.

Father Ron Smith said...

" the relationship between the divine and humanity is NOT some vague, abstract, undifferentiated bond - at least, not as far as the Triune God is concerned."

- Dr. Bryden Black -

Are you then suggesting it is a gender specific relationship - or even sexual? Because that's what we're talking about in terms of human relationships being compared with that between God and humans?

Mixing metaphors is never very helpful in the spiritual realm.

Glen Young said...

Bonhoeffer reminds us that the wise man is not the man with the most facts at hand, but the man who simply sees Christ in the world and the world in Christ in the same instant.
It is a habit of the liberal revisionists, to step back from the plain sense of scripture and excavate deeper truths of God's revelation concealed beneath the words themselves.
It is little surprise then, that we find scripture can be bent into all sorts of convenient shapes and the so-called gospel truths can contradict the plain meaning of scripture.
It is this habit of wanting to delve into the subjective and emotional religious experience of the Apostles which necessitates all these metaphors to explain these subjective feelings.
For a Man, who along with his band; which Clay Nelson tells us was illiterate; Christ has certainly brought a vast amount of material into being. Could you imagine the amount of paper which would be used if He had been literate!!!!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am not going to post comments (see new post on new policy) which talk about people leaving the church.

Commenters have the freedom here to enunciate a view without commenters jumping in and saying that if that is what they think then they should go.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Ron for your question. “The relationship between the divine and humanity” in the case of the Triune God’s economy is as I state it, Ron. To summarize again.

Just as the divine nature, in which human being is created as “Image”, is itself differentiated such that each Person’s identity is by means of an irreducibly complementary relationship with the Other(s) as “Father Son & Holy Spirit”, so too is the human ectype of this divine archetype found in a uniquely differentiated form, the one we know as “male and female”. So Gen 1 & 2, where humanity is declared a unique combination of differentiation-and-sameness, sameness-and-differentiation. I.e. the human genderized form, with its all consequences, is one of the ways in which the Triune Image is (to be) displayed here on earth. True; as Gen 3 painfully also declares, and where again and again in the Story Line of Israel we find something similar repeated, this form is awkwardly marred.

Yet God does not leave matters there - mercifully - just as he does not leave Adam and Eve naked, even in Gen 3. In the mission of the Son, the Father not only restores once more the Image of God among us, by granting us the Gift of his Holy Spirit; he adopts us into the very Life and Light, Love and Freedom of the Glory of the Triune God - each Person’s “work ad extra” according to their own idiotēs or peculiar manner of subsistence, although again, as per Augustine, in a profoundly “indivisible” manner.

It is this profoundly Trinitarian analysis and assessment of the economy which has forced me to the conclusion that same-sex relationships are expressions of a tragic irony.