Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kiwi solution to Communion mess?

The Communion mess over blessing of same sex relationships and ordinations of gay and lesbian persons as bishops could have a Kiwi solution. Bishop Philip Richardson, one of the Bishops of Waikato and Taranaki, offers a strong rebuttal of the accusation made by St Matthew's-in-the-City, Auckland, that our bishops are engaged in 'white collar crime' by continuing to not accept gay or lesbian persons in same sex partnerships for ordination. A report on Taonga of the rebuttal is here. The full rebuttal made by +Philip is here. I urge all Kiwi Anglicans to read these documents. You can comment on Taonga or you can comment here. Obviously I prefer you comment on one rather than the other, but my lips are sealed as to which one.

What might the wider Communion consider from these remarks? Here I excerpt a portion which notes three interlocking matters:

"I believe that General Synod needs to reach an agreed position on these three inter-related issues, in the following order:
First , whether sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity. This in itself requires the process of collective biblical exegesis, prayer and discussion and debate which we are engaged in.

Depending on our collective answer to the first question, the church might then be in a position to move to the development of a formulary for the blessing of committed, life-long, monogamous, relationships other than marriage.

Thirdly, the church could agree that such relationships so blessed and formally recognised by the church meet the standards of holiness of life that is the call on every Christian life, and is required to be reflected in the lives of those called by God and affirmed by the church to holy orders."

It would be interesting to have comments from readers whether any member church of the Communion has actually engaged in all three steps. (I am not aware of any such church myself).

For whatever reasons the Communion has gotten into a mess over homosexuality, it is in a mess, and I wonder if a Communion-wide exercise such as this would help get us out of the mess. Guided by the Covenant, we could get there. Can we do it? If we so will it to be so, we can do it.

POSTSCRIPT: one can almost predict who will speak up in response to +Philip :) Here is Edward Prebble.


Father Ron Smith said...

I, personally, am very glad that Bishop Philip Richardson, Taranaki, has responded to Glynn Cardy's article on the St.Matthews-in-the-city web-site, concerning the perceived reluctance of N.Z. Bishops to ordain gay candidates for the ministry.

While setting out the rules on such an action, which would have to be agreed to by the consent of General Synod. Bishop Philip says that he believes there should be more effort made to 'discern the mind of the Church' - in Aotearoa/NZ and across the Communion - so that a definitive consensus may be obtained on whether or not the LGBT community has a legitimate claim to recognition within the life and ministry of our Church.

Such action on the part of ACANZP, could certainly provide encourage-ment for other provinces in the Communion to undertake similar studies on the issues, from both a theological and sociological stand-point, so that the present stand-off in the Communion on sexuality and gender might be ameliorated.

Good on Bishop Philip for his pro-active stance on this matter!

Lucy said...

'... whether sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity.'

Peter, is it orientation or lifestyle that is the issue?

How can an orientation be of necessity 'wilful'?

Isn't +Philip creating a straw man that can only be dismantled to deserved cries of'bigot, homophobe'? Now, +Philip is no fool, so the question must be asked, why has he set up a straw man??

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Lucy,
I think you are on to something; but I must hie thee to church; so let's see if others make comment before I respond.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the conclusion of Richardson is surprisingly confused and confusing. It is perfectly appropriate to debate the validity or not of women’s ordination. The validity of the ordination of those in a state of serious sin, however, is beyond question. This was dealt with in the Donatist controversy reflected in Article XXVI of the 39 Articles of Religion. If a bishop chooses to ordain someone in any state of wickedness that ordination is undoubtedly valid. No challenge using Title D would lead to a result of “a public determination that the ordination in question was invalid”. For a bishop to be so seriously confused about his theology does not bode well for any future provincial discussion especially when he calls for collective biblical exegesis, prayer and discussion and debate “whether sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness”. If there is not significant outrage and there are not immediate calls for retraction from the rest of the bench of bishops it shows that the NZ Anglican Church is in serious trouble in even suggesting that sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness!!!

Peter please explicitly distance yourself from this nonsense or you will be seen to have stooped to a new low!


James said...

My response is sadness that a bishop is responding to an initiative closely associated with St. Matthew's. So-called "orthodox Anglicans" missed out on an opportunity for engaging with their "liberal" counterparts here in finding a way to collectively convince St. Matthew's to pull itself back from the brink, when it was globally exhibiting itself in an incident which (I believe) involved some rather stupid hate speech just before Christmas, 2009. Until there's ammendment of behavior here, I'd rather see St. Matthew's relatively isolated, much like Terry Jones's Koran-burning church, rather than involved in calling upon the church to do various things. Failure to do so will lend itself to the cause of more provocative, deceptive behavior on the part of extreme parties within the church. When we fail to isolate a St. Matthew's ... we indirectly provoke the kind of "fundamentalism" and ignorantly militant behavior on the "other side" of the spectrum of world Christianity.

In short ... if this is a worthy cause, it should be put forward by a different mouthpiece; and otherwise, it's best ignored, or accepted as an invitation to re-visit St. Matthew's own vision of ethical behavior.

More (preferably read before responding to my remarks here): New Zealand Anglicans: a Call to Consistently Ethical Behavior

Anonymous said...

"First (General Synod must decide) whether sexual orientation towards… one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity...."

Lucy's question occurred to me too. Richardson has not expressed the issue well here at all. I've never met anyone with same-sex attraction who said he or she "willed" or "chose" to have such an erotic attraction; sexual feelings (of all kinds) develop inconsciously within us. Of course, it may be that I am insufficiently Lutheran in my understanding of the will ('On the bondage of the will), but I doubt Richardson is thinking along these lines. It is better to follow the wisdom of The Catholic Catechism which talks about states being "objectively evil (or good)", founding this upon the natural law tradition, leaving aside questions of individual consciousness or will. J. Budziweski (sp.?) is a good modern exegete of the natural law tradition.
NZ Anglicans should also understand that good moral reflection should be carried out on as wide or ecumenical a basis as possible.
Peter "Palaiologos"

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for some intelligent and learned comments above; and for your post, James.

Some points of clarification, Alison:

(1) I take it for granted that +Philip in suggesting there may be debate over wilful sinfulness etc is acknowledging that some people in our church think that (e.g. they have communicated that in their letters to him). Just because "serious" people (all commenters here, naturally :) ) do not think such things does not mean other people, fully members of our church do not think them.

(2) Sure, +Philip, could have been tighter in his definition of 'invalid' re ordination/history of Donatism/39A. But he is making a simple point which is graspable. If bishop Y ordains X and subsequently bishop Y is found by tribunal to have been in error in ordaining X no bishop is going to license X to a ministry position. Technically X is ordained 'validly'; but practically X is not going to be able to legally exercise that ordained ministry, thus effectively will be 'invalid' in the context of our church. (Of course the general validity of the ordination could apply if X went to another jurisdiction where she or he would be licensed for ministry).

I fail to see that +Philip's argument deserves the low mark you give it.

As for me stooping low or even lower, surely you know by now that there are no limits to how low I can go in your eyes!

James said...

I must agree with Alison that the issue framed thus:

"whether sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity"

is particularly worrisome in the dichotomy drawn (and the possibilities it excludes) and should be corrected.

I.e., if it were determined that orientation were not a consequence of "will," would it thus be God-given diversity?

Is all diversity "God-given"? What of the boy born blind in the gospels? Should he have stayed blind, or whose willful sinfulness is it (assuming neither his nor his parents, given Christ's remarks)?

Father Ron Smith said...

"For a bishop to be so seriously confused about his theology does not bode well for any future provincial discussion especially when he calls for collective biblical exegesis, prayer and discussion and debate “whether sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness”.

- Alison -

I do not think Bishop Philip is in any way 'confused about his own theology' on the issue of the integrity of Gays in the Church. I think he already has a coherent and sustainable understanding of their legitimate propriety!

What he is asking for in his response to the St.Matthew's article, is that the Church as a whole in Aotearoa/NZ needs to move towards a serious and responsible 'common mind' on the issue. This would need further work to be done at the level of General Synod - which is what Bishop Philip is asking for.

Anonymous said...

Peter Carrell, surely thou meanest that thou must hie thyself, rather than thy correspondent, to church?

The bishop's piece drips with clammy condescension.

He appeals to the laws he must follow at every turn, which I think is rather cowardly, and he portrays himself as the wise man in the middle between contending appeals: "A correspondent recently accused me of failing to “uphold biblical standards of holiness of life” by not declaring unequivocally and publically that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful and a denial (the words in the letter were somewhat stronger) of God’s intentions for human beings." Indeed, he gives authority to such correspondents over his own conscience.

Rosemary Behan said...

With regard to Title D objections. Rev. Malcolm Falloon, Rev. Wally Behan and Mr. John Bryant stood up during a particular ordination service in Dunedin in November 2006 and objected to said ordination under Title D. They did so on the advice of bishop[s] in the New Zealand church. They were completely ignored and left quietly.

Glynn Cardy said...

Dear Peter,

I am among those who welcome Bishop Philip’s comments into the public realm. For too long there has been episcopal public silence on matters that need to be scrutinized and critiqued. Although it was not its purpose I’m glad the petition has been instrumental in this regard.

There are many points from his letter that in the next while will be responded to. In the meantime I would like to ask one question [and two subsidiary questions] of your readership: Do you think the Church should be accountable in any way to the general public? If the Church is engaged in a practise considered discriminatory by the overwhelming majority of the public should the Church pay heed? And if the Church says, “No, under God, in our own time, we will determine what we do” what are the consequences for the Church’s mission and ministry in that society?


Juan Kinnear said...

Dear Peter

When my partner and I first moved to Auckland, I struggled terribly to find work. Eventually, after much trying, I got a position working at the casino, where I waited tables and washed mountains of dishes over the ‘graveyard shift’ – 10:30pm to 7am, if I remember. It kept us alive until something better came along. It also cured me of any inclination to gamble. Anyone who has seen a gambling establishment at work knows that, in the end, the house always wins.

Bishop Philip Richardson mounts a thoughtful rebuttal of accusations made on the St Matthew-in-the-City website regarding the church’s treatment of LGBT Anglicans. He makes an argument for careful study and discernment, allowing the Church to make an informed decision on gay ordination and the blessing of same-sex relationships, to be reached in the fullness of time. Bishop Richardson also tells us that it is not the job of a bishop to make big decisions on his/her own, instead deciding to ordain a gay person in a same-sex relationship or to bless a same-sex union is up to the whole church. Fair enough, some would say.

There is one thing that worries me though. I know the church is not a casino, but I am still inclined to argue that in this kind of dispute, the house always wins. Consequently, I would caution those who hope for a liberalisation of the Church’s stance towards LGBT Christians not to be too surprised or disappointed if, after the proposed process of study and discernment, the church elects to maintain the status quo. Why do I say this? To my mind, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Christian texts and tradition judge same-sex relationships negatively. To expect our leaders to risk challenging text and tradition in order to embrace LBGT Christians is to expect too much of them. Authority, continuity, stability & unity – those things our bishops have vowed to protect - are at stake.

We also know from experience that organisations (or individuals, for that matter) simply do not change in the manner Bishop Richardson suggests. We do not make painful changes because someone else has a better argument. We change to secure benefit or avoid pain. Drug adicts do not cease using drugs after a careful cost-benefit analysis of continued opiate use. They stop an inch away from destrying themselves, or not, as the case may be. Paul of Tarsus fell off a horse after having a vision (or had a vision after falling off his horse?) and nothing was the same again. Instead, what Bishop Richardson is here putting forward is a mechanism for non-change.

Those intimatley involved in this dispute acknowledge that homosexuality is the ‘presenting issue’, fronting a far larger argument around biblical authority and christian epistomology. LGBT Anglicans are a tiny minority, playing the classic scapegoat role in a church rapidly loosing power and potency. If we expell/embrace the scapegoat, the magic words will start working again, our power will come back, our ‘mojo’ will return. But, neither expelling nor throwing the doors open to gay people will rescue the church from its maliase.

To LGBT Anglicans I say, play these word games if you must, but be cautious.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glynn,
I do not think the church is accountable to the general public (save in so far as it should account for itself in regard to obligations under the law to (e.g.) pay taxes, rates, building licence fees).

How it orders its life, its ministry and mission is about accountability to God. Sometimes this involves what the general public might call discrimination. Asking that people are baptised before receiving communion is something which could be perceived as discriminatory. Refusing to ordain a person a bishop before the age of 30 is also discriminatory. Specific church protocols involve discrimination, notably the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches refusal to ordain women. Are you saying that their mission is affected by holding firm in this way? (Are you campaigning for them to change!?)

Do you have a set of campaigns in view so that in the near future we will see you campaigning for the acceptance of polygamous candidates for ordinations, candidates in de facto arrangements which are not permanent, and candidates who see nothing wrong in using prostitutes (which is not illegal)? If you do not have such campaigns in mind, why not? Are you discriminating between one form of relationship which doesn't conform to Christian tradition and other forms which do not?

My point is not to get you involved in these campaigns, but I would appreciate, and perhaps +Philip might too, an acknowledgement that the issues you are asking our bishops to make rapid progress on actually require more theological reflection than you allow. Or is it all about pragmatics and protests?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
You may not agree with me, but life in our church has changed a little since that protest; indeed some might go so far as to say that that protest contributed to the change.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Juan
It would be good to hear more from you about the problem of the church's malaise and the solution to it.

Thank you for your thoughtful analysis which is almost the antithesis of some progressive analyses found here and there on the internet.

My analysis would differ in one small respect: the 'house' on your gambling analogy is kind of two houses, one called "General Synod" and one called "the whole church in its actuality." I am not always convinced that General Synod is representative of the latter. One might decided in favour of something the other is actually against!

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,
+Philip's statement on this issue seems to mirror the ABC's approach, ie frame the debate, state the issues and lay out a process, but don't express your own view. (He may have stated his views publicly elsewhere, I am just going on this statement) Sure, in the end the General Synod has to decide on legislation, but the role of bishops is to lead and help us in difficult questions of Bible interpretation, theological reflection and ministry practice. They do not delegate that role to Synod.

In terms of his recommended process, I would argue the whole AC has been engaged in step 1 for at least 10 years. The primates spoke decisively on this issue twice, stating that heterosexual marriage was God's plan for sexual relationships, and thus steps 2 and 3 were inappropriate. The 1998 Lambeth Conference spoke similarly. The problem is that various provinces did not accept this outcome. The chicanery that has happened since then to confuse the outcome of step 1 and progress to steps 2 and 3 is well known.

In the NZ situation, I would urge your Synod and bishops not to re-start a"listening process" or "time of reflection", that will simply re-hash what has happened across the AC for the last 10 years. Let the bishops bring to Synod a motion that represents their theological position and recommends a way forward for the NZ church, and see if it attracts the necessary support. As you do that, look at the destruction wrought by TEC and ACoC's actions upon their own provinces and the wider AC, and ask if you want to repeat that in NZ.

Peter Carrell said...

The following is a 'moderated' version of a comment from Ron Smith:

".life in our church has changed a little since that protest; indeed some might go so far as to say that that protest contributed to the change." - Dr.Peter Carrell - Yes, Peter, I think you are right about this. In fact, the protest - in the middle of a legitimate process of ordination by the local Bishop in his own Diocese (Dunedin) was interrupted [...] however, did not manage to subvert the ordination of a gay Christian. [...]

Reason for moderation: quite a lot of subjective judgement about a controversy expressed in words which play the man rather than the ball.

James said...

Father Ron,

I'm particularly disappointed that you, as one who values Trinitarian Christology, would be supporting the discussion around this initiative.

Were I more cynical than I am - I would quietly chuckle to myself in saying: "Look here how the movement for acceptance of clergy involved in same-gender sex acts is shooting itself in the foot."

The issue of St. Matt's and stupid hate speech is serious, but there's a much more serious issue here as well: that of Christ. St. Matt's openly espouses "Progressive Christianity," which is sort of becoming its own religion, a form of non-Trinitarian Jesus following. When Canon Cardy refers to "Jesus" - he's referring to a man who, in plain language, is dead. When you and I refer to "Jesus," we refer to Christ who - in plain langauge - lives. We don't share the same referent; i.e., "we're not talking about the same thing."

In accepting this initiative, the LGBT community is not only identifying itself with hate speech against, amongst others, Roman Catholics - it's also, whether it's aware of this or not, openly embracing the cause of teaching laypeople that Jesus is dead - compared to which, the hate speech issue is quite trivial.

I would implore you: take a stand of leadership, and consider: God loves the people of St. Matt's and Canon Cardy very much. How can you exercise leadership amongst LGBT people to call upon those within St. Matt's who can hear the gospel, to accept the Risen Christ?

There is a wonderful opportunity here - in pointing out our sin as Anglicans, in the utterly stupid gesture of a petition put forward by a congregation marred by worldwide hate speech - to say, Wake up! Let us turn to Christ!

Would it not be lovely, for those LGBT children who God so loves, and those members of St. Matt's who can hear - to turn toward the Living Christ who so dearly loves them and desires their fellowship in spirit and truth?

Does not sex in general pale before the issue of the awesome love of Christ, and the full glory of the very person of Christ - who took upon Himself our sins, died, and rose from the dead? Is it not trivial, this question of ordinations, compared to the utter importance of calling those in our flocks to recognize the full glory of Christ, in accepting Him as He tells us He is?

To a fierce advocate of LGBT issues in the Anglican Communion: Christology and the future of LGBT activism

Edward Prebble said...

POSTSCRIPT: one can almost predict who will speak up in response to +Philip :) Here is Edward Prebble.

Peter, I take your postscript as a high compliment. I do sometimes wish there were a few more "straight, white males" (to use +Philip's phrase) who could be predicted to speak up on this matter, and not leave it to Ian Render and Juan Kinnear to fight their sometimes lonely battle.

+Philip has offered a response to my open letter, which Anglican Taonga carries, and has responded in much greater detail privately.

You and Ron Smith are right - +Philip does us all a service by putting himself into the debate. But I do find myself agreeing with Andrew Reid in his comment:
"+Philip's statement on this issue seems to mirror the ABC's approach, ie frame the debate, state the issues and lay out a process, but don't express your own view."

I am waiting for any of our bishops, except +Waiapu who has perhaps already done so, to say: "I believe that same sex attraction is indeed part of god-given diversity, and I will campaign hard to see our canons changed."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Edward,
First, thank you for commenting here!

Secondly, perhaps at the heart of the core of the issue is the question of whether same-sex attraction is part of our God-given diversity or not.

Why should the bishops (let alone the rest of us) believe that? How would we know that same sex attraction was part of our God-given diversity and other attractions which do not lead to straight marriage (e.g. a propensity to promiscuity, to pornography) are not parr of God-given diversity?

There are too many unanswered questions (I suggest) for the bishops to be swept along by the St Matt's protest!

Juan Kinnear said...

Dear Peter

Bad news regarding yesterday’s quake! You all continue to be in my prayers.

Thank you for the invitation to engage in further dialogue regarding those matters which ail our church. I confess that I have no special wisdom to bring to the issues before us and am disinclined to add to the chatter. I am but a pilgrim and a very poor excuse for a prophet.

I note with interest that the matter of my ordination by Bishop George Conner in 2006 has been raised in the context of Bishop Richardson’s comments regarding the ‘validity’ of ordinations of people in same-sex relationships. As previous commentators have stated, the sacramental validity of such ordinations was settled by the church many centuries ago. Ordinations performed by a bishop in accordance with the liturgical rules of the church are sacramentally valid, even if the suitability of the person ordained is in dispute. Likewise, the sacramental actions of a person so ordained are valid, if performed in line with the expectations of the church at the time, the principle being that the effect of the sacrament comes ex opere operato.

As for the second issue you raise regarding the practical validity of such an ordination – will a person so ordained be given a bishop’s license to exercise ministry? – I can confirm that I (and others in my position) continue to hold licenses and exercise sacramental ministry in this church. In my diocese I recall the incumbent, at the electoral synod which chose him to be bishop, stating that he would rather resign than make a blanket withdrawal of licenses from gay clergy in the diocese. An appeal to Title D in the hope of settling our disagreements concerning the ordination of people in same sex relationships was and still is a futile exercise. The three gentlemen who made the trip to Dunedin in 2006 were poorly advised.

Were the bishops to bring a motion to general synod, setting out some course of action or the other, and were such a motion to pass – a canonical pathway for dealing with these issues can be mapped. Personally, I think our bishops are still some way off the formulation of such a position. I also think the passage of such a motion through General Synod will be very difficult. Even if it were to pass, can it do anything about the likely fall-out which would result from dissenting communities?

The law will not set us free.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Juan,
A very balanced understanding of the realities of life in our church!

The bit I do not think St Matt's and their protest is reckoning with is the wider life of our church. But then their billboards have cheerfully offended lots of people and they have seemed to care little about the wider church ...

Father Ron Smith said...

"Why should the bishops (let alone the rest of us) believe that? How would we know that same sex attraction was part of our God-given diversity"

- Dr.Peter Carrell -

Here, again, Peter, I have to take issue with you on this statement, by asking: 'Why should the bishops NOT believe that same-sex attraction was/is part of our God-given diversity' as part of the human race - if it is true?" And I whole-heartedly believe it to be true - on account of the experience that has been evidenced by many, many, Gay people who are firmly and irresolutely convinced that they have been called by God into ministry - like Juan Kinnear and many others - 'despite' their sexual-orientation (maybe, in point of fact, even BECAUSE of it).

Regarding Juan's point made on this thread, he is indisputably a priest in the Church of God, by virtue of his canonical ordination at the hands of a Bishop of the Church of ACANZP. I affirm his ministry, as does every person who receives the Eucharist at Juan's hands.

The fact that you, Bryden Black, and the Christchurch Protesters at his ordination in Dunedin, do not think the same is a cause of some offence to Juan, the Bishop who ordained him, and many others of us in the Church. For this, some act of ctontrition might be called for - in my opinion!

This protest was as much a cause of offence as any poster!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
You have not actually given a reason for your belief.

No one commenting here whom I know personally does not believe that gay people feel called to the ministry. Nor do I know of anyone here who does not believe that Juan Kinnear has been ordained a priest.

Please be accurate when speculating what people think ... or do not offer such conjectures!

James said...


Thank you for your comments. They are appreciated; especially since they are so well-thought out and wisely stated on a subject in which it making wise and thoughtful comments is so challenging.

Paul Powers said...

Bishop Richardson's first question may be the easiest to answer: sexual orientation in and of itself is morally neutral. But is any entity (whether a diocese/hui amorangi, province, communion or even a general council) competent to answer his second and third questions?

This is one area where I am unable to reconcile scripture on one side and reason on the other.

If you start with scripture (and I think you must), the handful of direct references to some form of sexual activity between persons of the same sex are uniformly negative. Even if you look at the examples of possible indirect references and assume that there's an element of homoerotic attraction in these relationships (e.g. Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, the Centurion and his slave, and even Jesus and the "beloved disciple"), nowhere does the bible say that these people engaged in sexual relations with each other, or that their doing so was good in the Lord's eyes.

On the other hand, I personally know some people who are in stable, long-term, same-sex relationships. These relationships have some wonderful qualities that I believe are worthy of support. Even if you assume that any sexual activity they engage in with each other is morally wrong, is that enough to cancel out the good aspects of the relationship? I don't have the answer, and I don't know who does.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Please be accurate when speculating what people think ... or do not offer such conjectures!" - Peter Carrell -

What a silly suggestion! How can anyone state, categorically what anyone else thinks - about anything, unless they tell them personally?

You, yourself do quite a lot in the way of conjecture, do you not? You conjecture that God would not agree to the ordination of Gays. How do you know this. Has God told you?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,

I am sure God will moderate me to the same standard of accuracy that I moderate you!

Bryden Black said...

Good to see you contribute Juan; reminds me of our first meeting and exchange some years back - thoughtful, even if divergent. For you are so right: it all boils down to issues surrounding biblical authority and epistemology. But also notice I omit the qualifier, “Christian” ...!

I shall look forward to seeing how these questions therefore do eventually get put; since the very form of question greatly determines the sorts of answers available - or not available, as the case may be.

Edward Prebble said...

Hello Peter
Well done, for zeroing in on a key issue - why should anyone, bishop or other, believe that attration to the same gender is part of God-given diversity. I will attempt an answer, but permit me then to say I think you miss my point.

Why do I believe this? Primarily from the experience of knowing a significant number of gay and lesbian people, in the church and outside it, including members of my extended family, and reflecting on those contacts in my prayers, biblical study and on-going Christian walk. Among those people I observe the same mixture of strengths, weaknesses, failings, and ability to minister love and grace that I observe among my "straight" acquaintances, and among those whose sexuality is unknown to me. Any explanation other than "God given diversity" makes no sense to me. (That's a very short answer, but as much as this format will allow.)

But my point is that I know a very large number of Anglicans do believe this, and my sense is that at least some of our Bishops do also. I am affronted that they are unwilling to say so.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Edward,
I understand your point that if many in our church believe X and if some of the bishops believe X then it begs a question or two if the bishops as leaders in our church do not act upon their belief.

I remain, myself, of the belief that "God-given diversity" raises a number of unanswered questions about what God has given us and what has simply happened to us as we have evolved and developed, both as biological creatures and as social beings. Is every quirk, quality, quackery, and quickness of mind and body, given by God? Down here in Chch we cannot even answer the question whether the quakes are God-given or not!

Father Ron Smith said...

" Down here in Chch we cannot even answer the question whether the quakes are God-given or not!"

I'm not sure that's quite true, Peter. I'm pretty sure that Creation, having been set free by The Creator, is acting 'naturally', when eruptions occur. I don't blame God for them.

Perhaps this matter has to be seen in the light of the known fact that 'evil' exists - as well as good!

Also, God sends rain on the just and the unjust (Scripture!). This would seem to suggest that both exist in the created world - which, however, God has redeemed in Christ.