Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Responses to Motion 30 (2): Don Mathieson

A second response to Motion 30 is provided by Don Mathieson who made a contribution here prior to General Synod/te Hinota Whanui meeting. This response pulls no punches. I welcome any (especially any actually present at General Synod/te Hinota Whanui) who wish to write a counterpoint in favour of the resolution passed. (I won't give my email here to avoid scammers picking it up, but you can find it via the Contact page on the Theology House website).

Don Mathieson writes:

In my view the General Synod resolution on same sex matters is a disaster. The resolution will lead, in all probability, to the solemnisation of same sex marriages in a few years time. It will in all probability split the church. It will in a comparatively short time lead to the death of overseas mission.

I know that to write succinctly and directly runs the risk of appearing dogmatic,prejudiced and homophobic. I shall have to take the risk. I believe I am none of those things. In particular, I am proud of the part I took as a Vice-President of the Homosexual Law Reform Society in the campaign, ultimately successful after years of struggle, to decriminalise homosexual acts.Throughout that struggle, however, which brought me into fruitful contact with many homosexual, ie gay, men, I carefully maintained the distinction between what is sinful and immoral on the one hand and what is criminal on the other.

Motion 30 deals with the very important question of what is authoritative for our church by dodging it. The scriptures quoted are irrelevant to the question: is sexual activity between people of the same sex sinful and disapproved by God or not sinful and therefore to be approved through blessing ceremonies performed by the church? To say that a blessing would not constitute,and be seen to constitute, approval would be to engage in unrealistic nonsense. Motion 30 fudges the approval question.

It  is all very well to say, rightly of course, that Christ as our Good Shepherd "seeks to bring home to the fold every person" but that is irrelevant. There is no question but that we must welcome  gay and lesbian people into our fellowship, offer them the sacraments and generally love them in every way. The key issue remains: are we additionally to approve the relationship that a person is in and has expressed a desire to maintain if that relationship involves behaviour which God has made it plain is disobedient and sinful? With the scriptures and the Christian church for nearly two thousand years I say we must not. Motion 30 says we may and should. Hence the disaster. The distinction between a person, and the  relationship that that person is in should be easy and obvious.

Motion 30 says that, if they obtain two permissions, clergy, if they so wish, are"permitted to recognise in public worship a same-gender civil union or state marriage of members of their faith community." The word "recognise" is undefined,and what this means is thus left obscure, probably deliberately.

Such recognitions may occur immediately.What would a "recognition" convey to the congregation in likely practice? To answer that, assume that the clergyperson is keen on the concept of same-sex blessings. The only restriction that he or she faces is that such recognition "cannot be marriage or a rite of blessing". No one knows exactly what is, and is not, a "blessing". Is it not a blessing simply because the words "bless" or "blessing" are absent? What exactly will happen, will depend on the type of worship service that it is, and the composition of the congregation. It  will be permissible for our enthusiastic clergy person to bring the couple forward, speak encouragingly to them and invite the congregation to pray for them. What will any combination of these "recognising" acts say to the people? Answer: the Church approves their relationship and the sexual activities expected to go along with it.\

The  distinction between this and a "blessing" is wafer thin. While the words are  different, the substance -this relationship is approved- is the same. Consequently, when same sex blessing rears its head again at the General Synod of 2016  it will be easy to portray the existence of recognitions in various parishes as blessings of a kind, and so why the fuss? Concentrate, it will be said, on the details of the "process and structure" that the working group has come up with. Same sex blessings are thus the inevitable successors of same-sex "recognitions".

In turn, same gender blessings will quickly turn into same sex marriages. I prophesy a maximum time lag of three years. Why so? Because the conceptual distinction between the two ceremonies will be seen as too thin to be bothered with.Only a few extra words need be inserted into the rite. 

Bear in mind that of those (probably only a small percentage) of couples seeking a ''mere blessing", many will have recently been civilly married by a Registrar under the 2013 amendment of the marriage laws. Your ordinary kiwi will not make any sense of a distinction between blessing a civilly married couple and marrying that couple. Your average  person will simply ask whether the church approves or disapproves of a particular kind of covenanted relationship.

The  General  Synod has committed itself to continued dialogue which "respects and protects diversity with the option of change". This is ambiguous.

Does it refer to the possibility of a change of direction away from the whole idea of same sex blessings? Or to discussions aimed at changing our liturgies and teaching within the  new liberal scheme of things? The "option of change" sounds generous and humbly tentative. In  truth the "way forward" is intended by the framers of the motion to be a decisive advance towards the great goals of more equality and less discrimination. I would not think the proponents have the slightest desire to allow surrender of their first and fateful step.

The motion is a classic piece of cultural accommodationism. Gerald Bray, in a recent editorial in The Churchman asks: "Are we supposed to conform our way of thinking to what the Scriptures teach, or are we free to relegate them to a historic shelf in the library and move on into a brave new world where non-churchgoers set the agenda? Is keeping articulate unbelievers quiet what we are meant to be doing?"

In  the communion-wide struggle for what might be called the "soul of the Anglican church" a crucial battle has been lost in our own country, and at a time when our numbers are dwindling and the demographics look bad. I doubt if there will be an Anglican church vigorously involved in the mission of God in fifteen years time. The General Synod in my view has no power under the Constitution to introduce same-sex blessings. The Ma Whea? Commission simply and unhelpfully referred to "different interpretations" of the Constitution.

I register my grief and acute disappointment. The pass has not been held; it has been dropped.

Peter Carrell writes:

Questions raised here include:

1. Does this do justice to a Two Integrities approach to same sex relationship blessings, that is, to an approach which explicitly sets out to provide space for two equal and opposite beliefs?

2. Is a Two Integrities approach - in the long run - sustainable?

29 comments:

liturgy said...

“There is no question but that we must welcome gay and lesbian people into our fellowship, offer them the sacraments …” Don Mathieson

How does Don come to such a dogmatic statement? What is his evidence that there is no question?

The Book of Common Prayer 1662, a binding and unalterable formulary of our church, has:

“And if any of those be an open and notorious evil liver, …, so that the congregation is thereby offended: the Curate having knowledge thereof, shall call him and advertise him, that in any wise he presume not to come to the Lord’s Table, until he have openly declared himself to have truly repented, and amended his former naughty life, that the Congregation may thereby be satisfied which before were offended”

It seems to me that Don himself has given in to the cultural accommodationism he despises. And that his distinction between offering communion to a committed same-sex couple and recognition is wafer thin.

A catch-cry of the movement (seen by many also as contrary to the teachings of the Bible) to ordain women was “stop baptising them or start ordaining them”.

A logic that works otherwise did not really know where the pass actually was.

The inner logic of offering communion to a committed same-sex couple is recognition and blessing.

Christ is Risen!

Bosco
www.liturgy.co.nz

carl jacobs said...

No, this "Two Integrities" solution is not sustainable. A church cannot condemn what it unambiguously approves. One "integrity" will become the official practice of the church. The other "integrity" will become privatized by default. You are in essence allowing individual churches to reject the functional public teaching and practice of the church. That rejection has no institutional presence however, because it will not be allowed to alter the functional public teaching and practice of the church.

So that big Evangelical church on the hill can still teach what it wants, and how fortunate for the church at large considering the amount of money that church contributes to the collective. But it teaches in the face if a church that elsewhere functionally sanctifies homosexual relationships. It provides a muted silent witness that is denied by the public practice of the church to which it belongs.

How long do you suppose that contradiction can be maintained?

carl

Anonymous said...

I remember having lunch with Don Mathieson c. '78 at a TSCF conference. He explained his point of view to me and has been entirely consistent since.
It seems that Bosco can't read carefully what Don has written. He says nothing about 'a committed same-sex couple'; he says 'gay and lesbian people', which I take to mean people with SSA. Who has ever doubted that Christians with SSA who seek to live a godly life should come to communion?
Don's logic is unassailable, and if NZ Anglicanism has learned nothing from the demise of North American Anglicanism (Canadian Anglicanism is facing extinction), then sadly it will deserve to go the same way.
Yes, Christ is risen, but repeating that mantra is no guarantee that NZ Anglicanism will follow.

carl jacobs said...

Btw, Bosco is correct in his general premise. Unrepentant participation in homosexual behavior should be grounds for denying Communion. I'm not sure that is what the author suggested given only the wording in this article. But Bosco's concluding point is irrefutable: "The inner logic of offering communion to a committed same-sex couple is recognition and blessing."

Therefore, communion should not be offered no matter how faithful the relationship might be.

carl

Father Ron Smith said...

"Come to me all you who labour, and I will refresh you" - Jesus.

A note for carl: If the Church had to wait for sinners to repent of every wrong before coming to Holy Communion, the Church would have died out long ago.

However, to assert that sex for Gays is wrong, while yet affirming its righteousness for Straight heterosexuals amounts to wilful discrimination.

Jesus welcomes Sinners to his table. What other sort of Christians are there? You cannot single out gay people for their inbuilt sexuality as undeserving of sacramental accommodation. Especially when you follow the biblical inference that Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

It has been well said that the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a mausoleum for saints.

I guess that's true for all of us who recognise our sinful nature, and yet turn to Christ for health and salvation.

Anyway, How can you repent of something that you earnestly believe, in your very being before Almighty God, is not sinful?

Each of us has to answer to God on the Day of Judgement for our life. This responsibility cannot be surrendered to any other earthly authority - not even a devout and pure sola scripturalist. (Perhaps even less so)!

Sadly, many in the Church seem to thrive and get their jollies from finding fault with other people's assumed sinfulness, where they might be better concerned with repentance for their own!

"Judge not, that ye be not judged"

However, despite all of this:

Christ IS Risen, Alleluia!
He IS Risen indeed, Alleluia!

Peter Carrell said...

There are some very good questions/observations being made above. Thank you!

My observations, which are not intended to answer questions per se are,

- I hope those who give the sacrament to (say) unmarried couples are consistent in whatever standards they are applying;
- I think there is a case for saying that in some situations in life, possibly including same sex partnerships, there is a degree of uncertainty about whether 'evil living' is taking place and thus grace requires we err on the side of giving the sacrament but giving the sacrament does not thereby imply certainty that the situation should be blessed ... i.e. our debate is often whether such a relationship is blessed or sinful, but what if it is in the middle between those two options?

tachesterton said...

On any give. Sunday in my parish, I'm quite sure I give communion to at least a dozen unrepentant materialists, not to mention gluttons, liars, and worshippers of the good opinion of others.

I've never been happy with the old BCP idea that it's my job to police the moral choices of communicants. I'm quite happy with preaching and exhorting people to repent of their sins, but once I start turning people away at the communion table where do I stop?

Tim

Andrew W said...

Is it really that hard a question, Tim? You are called to teach truth and rebuke sin and falsehood. Either that teaching is authoritative (from the Scriptures) or it is not. If it is not, you should not be teaching it. If it is, your words and practice should jointly declare that those who cling to sin will not enter the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 5:11-12, 1 Cor 6:10). Basically, if your words teach that sin keeps you from God, but your failure to enforce church discipline teaches that it does not, you are countering your own message.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters,
Life is pretty tough for gay people re the church being so down on having a life companion and partner. Is this conversation about refusing the sacraments erring towards law rather than mercy?

I never hear conversations in Protestant churches about refusing communion to remarried divorcees whose remarriage lies outside the scope of Jesus' teaching? (Which, incidentally, does earn a sacramental ban from the Roman Catholic church).

I do not think we need to come over all liberal and wishy-washy in order to admit people to communion whose lifestyles we disagree with, and, yes, I know there are limits - I wouldn't be giving communion to Hitler or Stalin - but surely the compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ who ate with sinners, prostitutes and even IRD officials, who engaged with the Samaritan women and didn't tell her to ditch her de facto husband, and who accepted even Judas at his last supper suggests just a little less haste to tell people what they are doing wrong than I see emerging here?

liturgy said...

Thanks, Anonymous, a really good point.

There is a way of reading Don’s text in which he would deny communion to a committed same-sex couple. Your interpretation of Don’s text based on a conversation with him 36 years ago, assuming he has not developed his thought in the intervening years, is helpful.

You may be correct, “It seems that [I] can't read carefully what Don has written.” I was reading it in Don’s own context of affirming decriminalising homosexual acts, not about people with same-sex attraction who were not acting on that attraction.

Blessings

Bosco

tachesterton said...

Thank you, Peter.

Many years ago, when I first moved to small town Saskatchewan, I was greeted in the post office one day by a man who said, "You're the new sinbuster in town, aren't you?"

I think we'd do well to recall the actual things that the Corinthians were told to examine themselves about in 1 Corinthians 11.

Tim

Anonymous said...

Regarding judgement by clergy as to who or who should not receive the sacrament of Holy Communion I am reminded of the Exhortation contained in The Book of Common Prayer (as below)which provides that each communicant should first examine themselves, repent of their past sins and intend to lead a new life.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter
An "Outsider" sticking his nose in again. In answer to your question: No - I can't for the life of me see how two integrities can co-exist within the Anglican church. The issue is not about whether you sing 1 song or 3, start your church service at 9am or 10am or both, or have a Bible study on a Wednesday. The issue is about whether homosexual behaviour is a sin or not. A church which sets out it's beliefs the way the Anglican church does cannot condemn homosexual behaviour as sin and on the other hand condone or encourage it as unsinful. It is not sustainable and eventually the offical Anglican church will have to hold to one official belief and those who oppose that will need to move on.

While all the discussions to date have, from most accounts I've read, been full of grace, how the Anglican church parts company in the future will be a true test of their collective and individual character. I'm praying especially for wisdom and grace for the leaders of the Anglican church as there is potential for great conflict over dividing up the "family wealth" so to speak. Anglican leaders should also bear in mind that this isn't just about their church as whatever happens it will reflect on all Christians, not just the Anglican church. It's quite a burden to bear in my opinion.

Finally, it wouldn't surprise me if, as has already occurred to some extent in my experience, individuals leave the church and fellowship in other churches to avoid the likely conflict. It seems the least confrontational way to part company.

My apologies if it sounds quite negative but I think you have to be realistic. I think, Peter, that you are trying your hardest to keep everyone happy and be seen to be reasonable and I completely understand that. It can't be easy to see the institution that your life revolves around to break apart around you. But in the end you, and those attempting to run with two integrities, will have to take one side or the other.

Mark

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mark
Your concern is appreciated!
I think Two Integrities is worth a shot but whether it works and works out, is a big question.
As for the Anglican church breaking up - I would like to think that church ultimately, for me, is about God's people and thus 'the church' never breaks up even if some parts don't get on so well with other parts.

You are completely right about the importance of grace!

John said...

"However, to assert that sex for Gays is wrong, while yet affirming its righteousness for Straight heterosexuals amounts to wilful discrimination."

This is absolutely right--which is why Holy Church has a go at heterosexual sin as well, and calls it fornication.

I think we should have bucketloads of grace for all repentant sinners, full stop, whether they are struggling with same sex attraction, sleeping with their girlfriends or eating seventeen cheeseburgers before Mass. But open and notorious evil livers are by definition NOT repentant, and stubborn to boot, and the BCP is very clear about that:

"YE who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling...."

To put this another way, I find it nonsensical to have two integrities in the same parish: how can one penitent go to confession for (say) fornication or giving in to SSA, and have that sin at the same time recognised, celebrated and blessed in the same parish, just in another room? Something's gotta give.

carl jacobs said...

Ron

First you say (referring to me) ...

Sadly, many in the Church seem to thrive and get their jollies from finding fault with other people's assumed sinfulness, where they might be better concerned with repentance for their own!

That's a nice little judgment about me. And then you add (seemingly with no comprehension whatsoever) ...

"Judge not, that ye be not judged"


Is this some of the "Sorta Scriptura" methodology you routinely employ to justify disobedience to Scripture? Or should we just call this by its old-fashioned name?

Heal yourself, Physician.

carl

tachesterton said...

If I may briefly respond to Mark (and maybe some others).

I think the talk of 'Two Integrities' is more than a little simplistic.

There is a popular mythology that says that 'revisionists' on the issue of homosexuality are all left-wing liberals who sit lightly to the gospel, the creeds and the text of scripture, and that 'reasserts' are all right-wing conservatives who believe in evangelism, proclaim the gospel, and respect the scriptures.

I do not find this to be the case at all. I am (as I have said many times) fairly traditional on this subject myself, but I find that some of those with whom I disagree on this issue - i.e. those who see committed same-sex relationships as right and good - are people who love the scriptures, proclaim the Gospel as outlined by Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 (not to mention Jesus in Mark 1), are faithful to the Creeds and are even keen on evangelism. I also find that some of those with whom I agree on the issue of same-sex blessings are also people who seem to have no interest in evangelism, want everything in the church to be the same as it was in 1950, and are living by the delusion that we can still do church as if Christendom was alive and well.

This is what would make it so difficult and painful if the Anglican churches were to split over the issue of homosexuality. Some of my best friends - and people with whom I have been glad and proud to do the work of the gospel - are in the other 'Integrity', but there are many, many subjects on which we are in complete agreement.

Tim

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim
You make a good point and I would like to respond by clarifying that I am talking about Two Integrities on the matter of blessing same sex relationships, not in general lib/cons terms. (I do not think we can be Two Integrities on marriage itself).

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, you have made a very good point here:

"I think there is a case for saying that in some situations in life, possibly including same sex partnerships, there is a degree of uncertainty about whether 'evil living' is taking place and thus grace requires we err on the side of giving the sacrament but giving the sacrament does not thereby imply certainty that the situation should be blessed ... i.e. our debate is often whether such a relationship is blessed or sinful, but what if it is in the middle between those two options?" - PC -

For instance, if we have no idea of the same-sex couples sex-life, should we enquire as to what they actually 'do in bed', in order to be able to reprimand them if they are doing something we consider illicit? Is sleeping in the same bed, for instance, proof-positive, necessarily, of an overtly sexual relationship. How can one know, and form an opinion on which to pronounce judgement?

This is where a person's private conscience is of paramount importance.

Some one here mentioned the need to rebuke 'notorious sinners'.
Don't you find it interesting that Jesus often kept company with them

I think we have the Law versus grace equation all topsy-turvy. This is probably why Jesus, in himself, while fulfilling the requirements of the Law, gave us his New Commandment - to Love.

carl jacobs said...

Two Integrities Explained:

Anglican: We believe and teach that homosexual behavior is a sin.

Observer: But doesn't the Anglican church down the road recognize homosexual relationships?

Anglican: Well, yes, but ...

Observer: So your own church organization doesn't agree with you about homosexuality and sin?

Anglican: We have this "Two Integrities" concept...

Observer: Do you have homosexual bishops?

Anglican: Well, not here, but ...

Observer: But elsewhere. How can homosexuality be a sin if you are in communion with churches that ordain homosexual bishops in open homosexual relationships?

Anglican: If I could just explain these...

Observer: When will you have homosexual bishops?

Anglican: ...

carl

tachesterton said...

Two Integrities explained:

Anglican: Jesus taught us that if you have two coats and your brother or sister has none, you should give your extra one to your brother or sister. We believe and teach that we're bound to obey Jesus as Lord.

Observer: But don't some people in your Anglican church have two houses - a place where they live and a vacation property? And don't some have two cars, while others struggle to find a way to get to work.

Anglican: Well, yes, but...

Observer: So in fact it's okay for Anglicans to disobey the teaching of Jesus?

Anglican: Well, we have this Two Integrities concept

Observer: Do you have any bishops that own vacation properties:

Anglican: Well, yes; in fact, my own diocesan...

Observer: So your bishops think it's okay to disobey the teaching of Jesus?

Anglican: ...


Tim

Jean said...

Hi Don

I agree the motion is a little wishy washy and does seem in favour of one direction. I also agree, after having attended a marriage blessing recently of a couple who got married in a registry, that it definitely felt to all intense and purposes as though it was a wedding.

I do not think though that the synod it is taking direction from non-church goers, I think the challenge is from those who profess to a christian faith and are homosexual.

Tim, I value your comments. I to have good friends who would view things differently from I, yet I cannot but admire their faithful lives. As Bryden suggested in a previous post people can be genuinely mistaken - and as such I believe Christ gives us grace in these situations. I think the difficult thing will be not now though when things are theoretical but when and if decisions are put into practice. It may, but is not a foregone conclusion, lead to having to make a choice,

An interesting topic raised in the discussions above I think is the topic of individual responsibility and the responsibility of those shepherds of our flock. A relative of mine who is a minister will not currently marry anyone who does not associate with the Christian faith. I will receive communion at a Catholic Church even though I am not permitted to because I believe Jesus permits me (sorry any Catholics). So there is a place for individual responsibility in our own faith decisions. But to be a leader of a church and mislead in anyway I think carries a heavier burden as it has a bigger influence on others.

Cheers Jean

carl jacobs said...

Tim

So I guess at this point we are supposed to debate the relative morality of owning two cars vs homosexuality. But I'm not going to do that. Because it misses the point. Your opinion about the extensibility of this "Two Integrities" concept is not relevant to the hypothetical Anglican in my narrative.

What is relevant is that my hypothetical Anglican has no way to establish his teaching relative to the official position of his own church, because that official position denies his teaching at every turn. This is the critical issue with this concept. These two integrities are not hermetically sealed one from the other. The actions of one will directly impact the other.

It's one to say "Let's give it a shot" and then add a lot of arm-waving about grace. It's quite another to actually specify how these two integrities are going to co-exist in the same organization. That's really not a new question after all. It's the same question that has defied answer for the last decade. Tell me. What will this "Two Integrities" concept do with a homosexual bishop? Because that will shatter any alleged hermetic seal to pieces. Just like Gene Robinson.

This isn't a new solution. It's the old failed solution with the ability to 'recognize' homosexual relationships. So what's going to happen is a whole bunch of revisionist churches will be doing a whole lot of recognitions. And a lot of conservatives will fume on the sidelines in utter impotence. They may 'opt out.' But that is all they may do. And that will have consequences.

Well, you might ask, can't they just accept a difference of moral opinion? No, they can't. What is more, they won't.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl and Tim
Something I am learning about our church's decision is that there is a very high degree of openness to some modelling of "Two Integrities" in a manner hitherto unseen.

What actually transpires now has to be seen, not least because a working group is commissioned to work through something we might agree to rather than divide over. But to do this may take a hitherto unknown model ... let's see!

John said...

We'll have to see, I suspect, but although I am hopeful (in an eschatalogical sense) I'm not expectant--that is, I think Carl is right.

Fr. Ron, we're not talking about rebuking notorious sinners outside the Church. We're talking about rebuking Church members--and ones who refuse to repent at that. I repeat that I think it's nonsensical for someone to go to confession for a sin being celebrated by others in the Church, in another room, or another parish. It won't work.

carl jacobs said...

Peter

There is a very easy and concise model for two integrities. It's called "parallel authority structures.". But the powers that be suffer apoplexy at the mere thought of losing all that money...uh ...instantiating a de facto split. If you are trying to unite these two groups under a single authority, then you are attempting the equivalent of combining matter and anti-matter without producing an explosion. No amount of openness or creative thinking can get around this.

The divide is a question of authority. Both sides demand it. Only one side can acquire it. The demand is non-negotiable for both sides. If you want to talk about a hither to unseen model, then start there. How do you resolve this question of authority?

carl

Father Ron Smith said...

I wonder if, when Jesus preached against the supposed 'integrity' of the Scribes and Pharisees, He was ever accused of betraying the only 'true' integrity?

I wonder if, when he enunicated in today Gospel passage (John 15:12-17) he was accused by the ruling Pharisees of pursuing a radically 'alternative Gospel' with these words: "A NEW COMMANDMENT I give unto you; that you love one another as I have loved you!" ?

It is a very real possibility that Jesus was crucified for his radical liberality!
Think about it!

John Maasch said...

I think there is another problem in the way the Scriptures aer being interpreted in this debate. he Bible only recognises 2 sexes-male and female. As such references to male and female must imply heterosexual male and female. This is because the Bible deals mainly with God's perfect creation as He intended. His chosen people were to represent this perfection. I feel therefore that any reference to homosexual acts is made to heterosexual men and women and not to those who are of a homosexual orientation. It would be sinful for those who are heterosexual to perform homosexual acts as they are going against their God-given nature as God intended them to live. But what about those who are intersex, hermaphrodites, transgender, etc. They do not get a mention in scripture.
To illustrate my point further. What if you went to a doctor and said you had a headache. He says to you that his medical text book says headaches are treated with panadol and prescribes you some without taking any further history of your headache to exclude another possible cause for the headache which may be more serious such as a brain tumour or haemorrhage. He might ignore other symptoms you have because it does not fir with what he reads about headache in his textbook.
Yet I believe this is how many interpret the Bible. We don't want to look at the underlying biology of being gay because it does not quite fit with what the bible appears to be saying. However, were we to understand this (as Father Ron intimates in his blog) then our conclusion will have to reference many more passages in scripture, not merely the ones about homosexual acts. e.g. "it is not good for man to be alone"(Genesis). "My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness". "FOr God so loved the World..." The passages where Paul exhorts widows to remarry lest they fall into sin-what about those with same sex attraction.
These are hard for those of us who are heterosexual to get out heads around but I think the problem with Motion 30 is that it starts and ends with scripture and appears to be talking into a specific issue which is not about same sex orientation. There is no mention of the biological understanding of what it means to be born with same sex attraction. As such, it gives a biased appraisal and narrowed scriptural references which I don't believe are talking to the issue of same sex orientation.
Lastly, I have a friend who has been a baptist pastor for many years. God has used him tremendously in growing new churches. He has recently confessed to being of a gay orientation and written a book on the subject including theological references.(and questions for discussion in home groups) He believes that for him and his ministry he must remain celebate which he has. But it has been at the cost of sometimes almost unbearable loneliness. His admission of being gay has also cost him the suspension of his practising license with the baptist union of the country in which he resides. What I want to push home is that God used his ministry and gifts for His glory even if the baptist union of his country would not recognise it.
Many people came to faith and grew in discipleship under his ministry.
God does not reject gays. Neither should we. What is more, he went to California to be assistant pastor at a Gay christian church (why does there need to be a gay christian church???). They surveyed the members and found that 85% wanted an intimate relationship but without sex. This might put into perspective a popular belief that all homosexuals want sex.They certainly want someone with wehom they can share life which accords with the statement in Genesis where God said "it is not good for man to be alone."
We need to consider this as well in our deliberatrions on Motion30.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks, John, for your perceptive comment on the inclusive love of God, shown to perfection in Jesus, who accepted everyone - even the self-righteous, but not withour putting them right about their own need to perceive their own moted lack of loving regard for other sinners. Bless you!

Thanks, Bryden, for your kind regards. The English weather has suddenly taken a tumble, but Diana and I move South tomorrow, where things are set to improve. Then - off to Bruges for a week, before returning to Aotearoa at month's end.