Friday, August 31, 2012

Neutral on gay adoption?

Possible changes to aspects and elements of our NZ adoption law(s) re same sex couples adopting children look a bit complex for me to restate here, so I refer you to this NZ Herald article which tells us of two strands of reform coming our way.

I wonder if Christians should be neutral re proposed changes to the relevant laws for two reasons. One, as noted in the article, is that 'gay adoption' is already with us. Secondly, one can conceive of situations where one might not want to prohibit such adoptions, even if one was not in favour of them in principle. One example would be Fred and Mary have three children, marriage breaks up when Fred 'comes out' and enters a relationship with Steve, then Mary dies, and Fred falls ill, so Fred and Steve want Steve to adopt the children so if Fred dies, there is clarity about the continuing parenting. I am sure you can think of other possibilities in the complex array of human life.

What Christians need not be neutral about is the principle that every child should have as a primary possibility in life that they have two parents, one a mother and the other a father. Somewhere in the argumentation for change to the law we have an earnest entreaty that two parents of the same gender are as good as two parents of opposite genders, with the back up argument, citing a recent headline, of how dangerous a mum and a dad are for some abused children. That there are bad parents in reality is not, of course, an argument for or against any particular kind of parenting being favoured. Bad parenting arises out of a number of factors, none of which any group of parents can entirely escape. Say poverty is one of those factors (as it seems to be here in NZ). Whether we want to group parents into categories such as 'Maori' or 'Pakeha' or 'Polynesian' ... or 'gay', poverty affects all such groups. Anger management? I know of no group in society that is free of problems with anger. So let's talk principle and not undermine it with statistics.

When we read our Bibles, especially those first chapters in Genesis which are rich in treasures of wisdom and knowledge about God's purposes for our lives, we are inescapably impressed with the fertility of man and woman coming together as one flesh for the pro-generation of life. In this leaving and cleaving permanent relationship lies the origins of man and woman becoming father and mother, as well as the distinctions between men and women being cherished and celebrated. In parenting a father and a mother can 'parent' equally well (in modern terms, each can support their children on the sports field, ensure they are well fed, sent to school, and brought up with good manners and a sense of civic responsibility, all in a supportive and loving environment called 'home'). But only to a certain degree. A mother can never be 'father' to her children, and a father can never be 'mother' to his children. The lack of a father or a mother in someone's life is tragic and the tragedy is not averted by providing two parents of the same gender, no matter how wonderful those parents may be at aspects of parenting that can be done well irrespective of the gender of the parents. I suggest that we do not need to be neutral on the principle that every child should have a mother and a father as a primary possibility in life.

SIDETRACK: If this article is an accurate report of one Christian family's weekend, then two parents and one child must have had some very interesting conversations in the last few days!


Father Ron Smith said...

In this situation, Peter, as in all others concerning the adoption of children, I believe that what is best for the child must always have first consideration. Adoptive parents all require proper screening - as to the circumstances of the adopters - in every case. I, personally, do not see why a settled, same-sex couple should necessarily prove to be a barrier.

Andrei said...

The old adage is "hard cases make bad law".

In your sad anecdote of the gay who came out and now wants is "partner" to act as proxy mother for his children, omitted entirely is what his late wife's views might have been? The whole thing is a tragedy, an unlikely one of course and not one that would strike "responsible adult people.

When our kids were born, we looked at them, eyes filled with love and thought, what if the unthinkable happens and we were to die before they are grown and then put in place in writing, in written legal wills, who was to raise them - a family member, of course, who was consulted, of course. And indeed having strong family ties based upon siblings conceived within the bounds of Holy Matrimony, there can be a great deal of trust that in the event of family tragedy - our children would be raised well and according to our wishes. It didn't come up.

The cultural vandals who are wrecking havoc to our civil society, smash the norms that govern us by presenting poster children of "injustice" the issues raised usually arising because these "victims" refuse to abide by the cultural norms that exist to prevent these issues coming up in the first place.

And then they demand a law change, based upon shallow emotionalism, to accommodate them.

liturgy said...

What I think you may be arguing, Peter, is that our NZ adoption laws should change and not allow individuals to adopt. Is that what you are saying?

Currently a woman in NZ can adopt a boy or a girl; a man can only adopt a boy. So currently an individual can adopt; but a loving, committed couple cannot if they are a same-sex couple. Currently a loving, committed couple can have one person adopt, but not both.

We are talking, of course, about a very small number – having dropped from over 2,500 adoptions per year, to well below a hundred a year and continuing to drop. I haven’t seen much (any?!) discussion, outrage, energy (equivalent to that put into this type of discussion!) around our scandalous NZ abortion statistics or even the finding that most of our abortions are illegal…

Not to mention, as this type of debate is expressing itself as concerned with marriage, the distressing separation and divorce statistics – as bad, if not worse, in the church as in “the world”. No statements from our church on abortion. No statements from our church even following the most recent episcopal marriage break up.

Good sleight of hand works a lot with distraction…



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I am neutral about changes to our adoptions laws, as currently being proposed/aired, so, no, I am making no specific comment or suggestion on whether individuals should or should not be able to adopt. (Off the top of my head, I think they should continue to be permitted to do so).

I might comment about abortion when it figures again in the news (just as I did comment when a recent clerical marriage break up figured in the news).

However I take your implied point that one might make comment on matters of deep concern (such as abortion) even when they are not making headlines.

I am not sure whose sleight of hand you are commenting on, but if it is mine, then it has fooled no one!

liturgy said...

I think, Peter, we are both on the same page in wanting to see our church being more proactive, including from its leadership, from our agreed positive good-news message and resources. In season and out of season. And it not be left to a hand-full of bloggers...



Anonymous said...

The problem with our Church leaders speaking out consistently on moral issues is that many of them are supporters of Labour and the Greens. Thus their loyalties are in question, as is their understanding of what actually constitutes Biblical morality.

Father Ron Smith said...

Shawn, perhaps your comments might receive a little more serious attention here if you were able to get beyond your political mind-set. Political bias betrays a lack of objectivity - in many areas of what might be considered to be theological practicality. Try to become a little less biassed politically. Try to open your eyes to the good that might be perceived in areas of life you have never before imagined. A glass half-full is better than one half-empty.

Anonymous said...

"No statements from our church on abortion."

That's because liberal Anglicans, like Tec, are vehemently pro-abortion. Ask Louie Crewe and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. It's a 'feminist issue'. The 'fetus' isn't human, you see. "2, 4, 6, 8, not the church, not the state, women must decide our fate.Keep your rosaries off our ovaries", etc.
The much reviled RCs at least strive for moral consistency in a fallen world. If only Anglican leaders could emulate a similar vision of God's holiness and grace.

"No statements from our church even following the most recent episcopal marriage break up."

Well, at least he returned his license. If only Gene Robinson had doen the same. Where there is a deserted wife and children, a little public reticence may not be a bad thing.


liturgy said...

I am reluctant to comment (as, whatever I say, it seems to draw such predictable responses that I could have the conversation in my head instead of posting and get it pretty much right – without the agro and emotional stress) but must say, once again, how tiresome I find the prejudicial categorising of individuals into non-intersecting classifications. Liberals do not believe in the Bible, the resurrection, the incarnation, the Trinity… This classification results in Nelson Diocese and Wellington Diocese and its bishops being lumped in with Waiapu as an explanation – because NZ Anglicanism is liberal. Full stop. No further reflection required. Move along; nothing to see here; back to tirades about homosexuality please – the real touchstone of orthodoxy.

When Fr Ron, Peter, and I agree on the reading of Genesis, or on the resurrection, Trinity, women’s ordination, (abortion?) or incarnation – Ron and I will get put into one box; Peter has to be safely kept in the other – because the real touchstone of orthodoxy is not the Trinity, incarnation, resurrection,… it is…

I don’t think I’ve ever expressed my opinion about marriage equality on this site. I’ve tried to participate in discussions here to clarify my own ideas. And tried to point out issues with certain approaches. But there’s been very little engagement issue by issue – because everything just gets lumped together, and if I agree with a commenter on one thing but not another it’s just that I’m inconsistent and should follow the consequences of the particular box to which I’m assigned. Or I should go and read the following books. Or I’m straining out the gnat of … and swallowing the camel of the real touchstone of orthodoxy.

Good on Fr Ron for maintaining an alternative here so bravely. If it wasn’t for him there would hardly be any dialogue at all [others who differ have either left explicitly (Br David), or comment less and less (Rosemary)] – just people nodding in unified agreement how those who don’t contribute are all headed for liberal hell in a handcart.

Is there any real listening? Any real engagement? Anyone ever seen to change their mind, or shift their position? I’ve missed those (and I check this site regularly). Finally, it has been interesting to me to follow some regular contributors here on other sites, where the pious persona created for this site slips there to a swearing, angry persona with language and images that would make the devil blush. The touchstone of orthodoxy, however, of course stays the same.



Father Ron Smith said...

"Well, at least he returned his license. If only Gene Robinson had doen the same. Where there is a deserted wife and children, a little public reticence may not be a bad thing." - Martin -

Good old Martin - can always be relied on to condemn others' sins.

re your criticism of Bishop Gene. You're obviously quite unaware of the feelings of the 'deserted' wife and children in this case. This was an amicable separation.

Perhaps you need to 'read the book' before passing judgement.

Anonymous said...

My partner had a child, we agreed that this would be the case, I am a legal guardian of our child as under the law that is all I can be. I have been in our child's life from the beginning, (12yrs) he sees me as his second mum and has no hesitation is saying so to whomever asks. I love him dearly and support him fully and together we guide him towards what we believe is a wholesome, fruitful and balanced live. He is not deprived of male adults in his life, which is a rather thin argument put up by those who argue against same sex parenting, with input from a grandfather who is an amazing loving man, uncles, male cousins, friends fathers, brothers etc.
Society offers examples of children living with only one parent for all sorts of very legitimate reasons; a widowed mother e.g. as a consequence of war/accident, a mother and child living with the child's grandmother.
It is a nonsense to argue that a child must have a male & female parent, its an ideal that is often unrealistic.
Adoption for the partner in a same sex relationship requires to be tidied up. If my partner dies under the present law guardianship is not an automatic step to him continuing to remain with me, but adoption would be. It would be devasting for us both if the law decided he must be 'placed' elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I am determined not to respond to Mr Smith's uninformed and uncharitable ad hominem comments about people he has never met, but I have to say I know more about 'Bishop' Gene than Mr Smith may realize. I - and everyone who can read - also know what the Anglican Communion thought about the matter of his ordination. The attentive reader would understand that next sentence was a reference to Mrs Brown, not Mrs Robinson.
Bosco: I think most of us who read with care know (or think we know)pretty much what you believe. You are no Glyn Cardy. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I surmise you would fit fairly comfortably into the group in England known as Affirming Catholicism, which is generally orthodox as far as the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds go, but differs from traditional Anglo-Catholicism in supporting WO and same-sex relations, while taking a pop at evangelicals for believing in inerrancy and penal substitution. IOW, what Jeffrey John advocates and condemns. Affirming Catholicism attempts to maintain a broadly traditional face along with a more diffuse, liberal methodology. That's why it critiques the Bible's teaching on male leadership in the Church and on sexual conduct, but tries to hold a conservative line elsewhere, along with a high sacramentalism. In the long run, I at least don't think it can be done, because the methodology is self-defeating, and more consistent spirits like Richard Holloway - one of the founders of AC along with Rowan Williams and Jeffrey John - have followed logically where the method leads: into atheism.
This can sound like alarmism: after all, you can spend a long time in a leaking boat before you come to any harm, but woe betide those in the boat when the water level reaches a critical point. Barring a miracle (for which I devoutly pray), demography indicates that about half of "western" Anglicanism, from Dunedin to Elgin, will have disappeared in ten years.
In all this I am reminded again and again by the uncomfortable challenge put by erstwhile Anglcian J. H. Newman in his 'Biglietto' speech on what liberalism really leads to.

Anonymous said...


Everybody, including you, is politically biased. I am just honest about the fact.

I could care less whether you take me seriously. But others can speak for themselves, as you do not speak for them, despite your delusions on the subject. And I have noticed that more than a few who post here seem to agree with me, not you.

Father Ron Smith said...

" more consistent spirits like Richard Holloway - one of the founders of AC along with Rowan Williams and Jeffrey John - have followed logically where the method leads: into atheism."

The calumny expressed in this silly remark about these celebrated Anglo-Catholics betrays a level of hatred that can only be described as out of touch and bordering on ad hominem.

Also, a touch of sulphur in the air, if I'm any judge of rhetoric. The fact that one-time Bishop Holloway left the Church may be directly as the result of endemic and deathly conservatism in the ranks of the House of Bishops, whose kowtowing to fundamentalist nay-sayers has led to his despair of ever achieving justice in the Church.

Archbishop Rowan and Dean Jeffrey John are both deep-down-advocates of Gospel freedom, which militates against the hypocrisy of the Church. I suspect that's why Rowan is getting out of it.

If our beloved Anglican Communion seems continuing in decline, it will be through a 'failure of nerve' - no other reason.

Anonymous said...

Mr Smith's inability to understand my sentence about Richard Holloway, and his ignorance about Holloway's rejection of Christianity and theism itself (has he never read any of Holloway's books?) demonstrate the very reasons why I no longer bother trying to dialogue with him.
Thank you for hosting this blog, Peter, but I've had enough of these tiresome and uninformed interruptions (which are wholly contrary to the spirit of St Francis).


Anonymous said...


The problem with your claims about those who post here from a Biblical worldview is that you betray your own position by calling our discussions about homosexuality "tirades".

Thus nobody has put you in a liberal box. You have placed yourself there.

You claim that Ron "bravely" offers an alternative view and that we should engage with him and possibly change our views. So Ron should nit change his? Is that not your own Liberal bias?

And how is Ron being "brave"? Most of the time all he does is call the rest of us irrational, unenlightened hateful fundamentalists. How is throwing ad homominims around from behind a computer brave? How is repeating ad nauseum the sane trite Liberal propaganda an "alternative". Alternative to what? The Bible?

And how do you know that Conservatives here have never seriously engaged with other points IOC view? Or changed their minds? What a magnificently arrogant sweeping generalization.

For what it is worth politically I used to be a card carrying member of Jim Anderton's New Labour party, and at that time I was theologically Liberal and pro-gay.

So I reject your assertion that those of us who are Conservative are close-minded and uninterested in other points of view. That assertion is twaddle.

I have been on the recording end of a great deal of personal abuse from ChCh liberal Angkicans over the years and frankly I'm fed up with it. The behavior of many (not all) liberals, including Ron, towards me and other Conservatives is shameful. This blog offers a place where I can engage with other Conservatives in relative safety, despite Ron's at times viscous attacks, and I am thankful fir that, thankful that most who post here are not Liberals calling me names or publicly attacking my character.

I'm sorry if the existence of a predominantly Consevative Anglican blog offends your Liberal sensibilities, but then nobody is forcing you to read it or post here.

liturgy said...

Box A1 (apparently the Glyn Cardy box) doesn’t quite fit Bosco
so we will squeeze him into Box A2 (with Holloway, Williams, and John – just ignoring specific disagreements with them, cutting bits off, and shoving until he fits).

Holloway doesn’t subscribe to theism as most define it any more – therefore logically all those in Box A2 are as inevitably going to the liberal hell in a handcart as A1. Williams just doesn’t realise that yet; nor does Bosco – because they are all not very bright, have not yet read the right books, and everyone else can see what they can’t.

The rest, Box B, of the true faithful, the only ones who can validly claim to “post here from a Biblical worldview” never have any of our numbers from Box B lose faith and become atheists. Ever.

There is never a clash between the Box B Biblical worldview and science – and if there is, it means that the person has lost faith by having left Box B – not an inevitable fault of the Box’s position. [Don’t mention the founder of a Box B highly-successful youth-filled church come and talk to Bosco after the founder had actually done the statistics and found that the average time they stayed in his church was 18 months and, on leaving, joined no other church].

“…petulant, and frankly just silly game playing….I don't take demands from liberals. I certainly do not take petulant demands from those who show no honesty or consistency, who do not even respect Scripture, but abuse it in the service if advancing whatever evil or perversion is currently fashionable amongst liberal elites….” is not the language of tirades – and any who think so are immediately in Box A2 (or A1 – makes no real difference).

The conclusion is clear: those who have any question about the approach or language of comments, should just stop reading this blog, nor contribute. And leave the faithful in Box B and the purity of their Biblical worldview untainted by boxes A1 or A2.

Remember: once we have defined which box a person is in, we no longer have to engage with any specific points a person makes, and we can say whatever we like, because they aren't ad hominems any more, as they are addressed not against individuals but against the box. And if individuals take offence, or get upset, or anything - they clearly don't understand; and there is no fault in the person making the statements who are just declaring the truth in love. As required. Especially if they were once in Box A1 or A2 but were enlightened and moved to B.

Peter Carrell said...

Perhaps we could all try here to engage with the Bible and what it says, without the adjectives (often additions which could be omitted from our sentences) and the throw away last sentences (which could also be omitted) which engage with the boxes we place each other in ... rather than the Bible.

liturgy said...

Sounds good to me, Peter, especially as (on this site at least) you've ended up more in agreement with Williams, his leaking boat, and his self-defeating, ineviably-atheism-concluding methodology than I ever have.



Peter Carrell said...

As you know Bosco, I have declared my availability to succeed ++Rowan, especially in regard to seats in the Royal Box at major sporting events.

If I understand your comment above, it would appear that I have your vote sewn up!

Anonymous said...


Everyone takes a theological position. Naming those positions is not putting people in boxes, it I'd simply being accurate.

Of course some conservatives lose faith and become atheists. The difference is that they Do not continue to pretend to be Christians.

You have statistics from one church. Big deal I prefer to rely on my actual experience, which does not march your stats.

I am happy tobengafe with people with different points if view.

I am not happy to try engaging withba person who belittles others, claims superiority, and calls others unenlightened hate filled fundamentalists.

I have found, and my experience on this blog just confirms if, that the people most unwilling to listen to others and engage with them civilly are those promoting the acceptance of homosexuality.

Like Martin I feel that the discussions here have become untenable, largely due to Ron's abuse of others and his domination of discussions with tiresome claims about how terrible and unenlightened we all are for not agreeing with him.

Until that issue is dealt with I am joining Martin is self-imposed exile.

I am just not interested in taking abuse anymore. On most other blogs some of what Rpn has said ( including accusing me of criminal behaviour) would have received a ban or at least a time out.

The discussions here will not improve simply by not using certain terms like conservative or liberal. Ron willbstill be posting here and I gave seen no evidence that he will change his way of speaking to people.

Until that is dealt with I see no point in continuing to post here.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
Your contributions are always welcome here and I hope you will come out of exile one day.

Father Ron Smith said...

If anyone here is really interested in reading Richard Holloway's reasons for leaving the Church, I recommend his biography: 'Leaving Alexandria' - the late Scottish Episcopal Bishop's apologetic on his own reasons for going.

Perhaps his detractors might spare the time to try to understand why a Bishop of the Church might consider its fallibility - in its inability to come to terms with modern issues
of justice.

I remember being at a charismatic conference with him at Canterbury, U.K., immediately before Lambeth 1988, when we both walked out in response to an (English) Anglican Bishop in Pakistan, who deemed to describe all Muslims in that country as 'Agents of the Devil'.

This might account for some of Bp. Holloway's disaffection for certain of the English Bishops, then & now

(By the way, I resent being called 'viscous'. I may be a slippery character, but I'm not viscous.)

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, I'm sorry if two of your correspondents on this site have felt that I am directing hatred towards them personally - to the extent that they have decided to cease their contributions. I cannot understand why they might think I actually 'hate' them. I leave that sort of feeling to my 'loyal opposition'.

However, if you feel, as a direct consequence, that you would rather entice them back by banning any further contributions from me, I would understand - even though I do enjoy the cut and thrust of the debate.

Like Bosco, I have felt at times that the degree of rhetoric has been counter-productive of any meaningful dialogue, but that may be the nature of the eclecticism that religious sites attracts.

May I say that I do appreciate your hosting of the site, believing that it does contribute something quite valuable to the conversation.

Pax et Bonum!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
I have neither wish to ban any one from here (save for the 'robots') nor to have comments running all one way. A kind of orgy of self-righteous self-congratulation as I find on one or two sites around the place (whether to one side or another of lib v con) is not aim of this site.

But I would ask all commenters here to think carefully about labels, boxes and putting people in them, the use of descriptors, and the speculative presumptions that because X thinks Y then obviously they also think Z. As best I can tell a number of commenters have commented in this kind of way so I am not picking on any one individual here with this request.

MichaelA said...

"The calumny expressed in this silly remark about these celebrated Anglo-Catholics betrays a level of hatred that can only be described as out of touch and bordering on ad hominem."

Isn't it rather a stretch to call Holloway or John 'anglo-catholic'? I would have thought 'affirming catholic' would be a much better term.

Its difficult to think of anything that either would have in common with members of Forward-in-Faith, for instance.

Father Ron Smith said...

You're probably right, Michael A - about the fact that neither former Bishop Holloway nor Dean Jeffrey John would be seen moribund with 'Forward in Faith' - known locally by most forward-looking ACs in the U.K. as 'Backward in Despair'. Both would disdain the retrogressive ethos of the ultra-montane.