Monday, April 15, 2013

It is marriage, Jim, but not as we know it

Blogging is essentially a compulsive obsessional disorder. It is compulsory to write about what is obsessing the blogger, so at risk of disorder to one's diary, I post, therefore I am. One difficulty with obsessions is that one may rule over another, in which case the secondary obsession is somewhat deflated since a secondary obsession is not a real obsession.

Lately I have been obsessed by diocesan matters. Only in passing have I been able to observe that the deflated obsession here - marriage etc - could be re-inflated. Various correspondents have alerted me (thank you) to a series of articles re marriage and gay marriage. Looking them up has alerted me to an avalanche of reaction to one publication in particular, a C of E Report men and women in marriage which can be found here.

I do not have time this week, even this month, to read this, but perhaps you do and would care to comment here.

Some reactions are here (a conservative concise critique), here (a liberal critique with variant here), and a Thatcher-like Church Times No, No, No here. Bishop Alan Wilson possibly condemns Belgium while condemning the report! Charlotte Methuen is obviously a fan of the 'open society' as she helped write the condemned-on-all-sides-report and then effectively condemns it herself here. At this point I hand you over to Thinking Anglicans and the many links made there in recent days to comment.

Across the Atlantic, the ever thoughtful Albert Mohler makes astute observations about the course of debate over gay marriage in the States.

Even here in NZ we have a form of public discourse, exemplified recently by Rex Ahdar as he writes here and then is soundly fisked by Lynne Jamneck here.

As best I can make out, what is happening in the UK, USA and here is that

(1)  some not very good arguments in favour of the status quo of marriage being between one man and one woman are being trampled over by some arguments which excellently dispatch the not very good arguments;

(2) a zeitgeist is blowing through our respective societies which cannot be resisted by yesterday's arguments and might not be turned back by better arguments produced today;

(3) the key mistake Christian 'resistance' to societal change to marriage is making, is failure to grasp that the full extent of secularization is being utilized, that is, politicians are organizing society without reference to God; a secondary mistake is to think that there is anything instrinsic to marriage in a world without God - in  that world, marriage is whatever we wish to make of it.

(4) conservative (i.e. preservationists of the status quo to date) Christians on marriage are being challenged to work out what the grounds are on which they are founding their arguments, with a relentless work ethic on the part of liberal (i.e. intent on disturbing the status quo) Christians who are intent on mercilessly exposing bad foundations.

Thus, to give but one example, it is now quite dodgy to argue that the 'majority' view on marriage is the status quo, because the 'majority' view is rapidly becoming marriage is between any two people. The status quo is evolving.

To my mind, a Christian needs to work out what God has revealed to us about marriage. And not depend on what nature teaches or culture supports as a way of explaining or justifying what God has revealed to us. The way of discipleship is mostly counter-natural and counter-cultural. But more needs to be said, and time is up. Marking, preparation, a meeting of Bishops to attend, a discernment weekend ... posting might be light for the remainder of the week.


Father Ron Smith said...

Absolutely loved the Arch-druid's response to the Faith & Order Commission's Statement on Marriage.

At least this particular response affords a bit of a laugh - when crying might be a more responsible reaction.

Father Ron Smith said...

On my last effort to post, I forgot to provide this link (via T.A.):-

more responses to the CofE marriage report

see: Frank Cranmer - 'this one'

Anonymous said...

If the report comes to the right conclusion, that marriage us between one man and one women for life, then it has merit for that reason alone.

We do need arguments that are based on the authority of Scripture rather than sociology or psychology, but the fact is that liberals will never like or agree with any arguments we make, no matter how good the argument is.

Anonymous said...

The Department of Internal Affairs has announced that if the Marriage "Equality" Bill passes homosexual couples will be able to use 'bride' and 'bridegroom' as titles.

How will they choose which is which?

Up is down....left is right......evil is good.....freedom is slavery....war is peace......

Bryden Black said...

Wow! This report seems to have kicked over bee-hive after bee-hive, with queens and drones and mere workers flying in all directions and stinging everything in sight!

These responses reveal more than they intend perhaps. The Zeitgeist has become a hurricane, and woe betide anything that seeks to stand in its path ... I guess it was ever such: France in 1793-4, Russia in 1922, China in 1966-76. Mmmm ....

Anonymous said...

Please pray for the city and people of Boston.

Father Ron Smith said...

Woe, woe woe!!! Anyone would think the world was going to end. Just because a few monogamously faithful Gay couples want to be recognised as bearing witness to their loving relationship in a form of marriage.

It may be that a few faithful Gay Marriages might set a good example to some of the more flawed hetero marriages - that involve abuse of wife and children. At least, those in the Gay community who want to take advantage of marriage, have to be really keen on the idea and 'wedded' to it - not looking for divorce as a way out.

Settle down boys (and it usually is heterosexual 'boys' who oppose Gay marriage); it won't exacerbate the chances of your own marriages being spoiled, or threaten them in any way. It may even encourage heteros to become more faithful to their spouses - just to prove something; that they are more secure, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,

Your post makes the usual accusations but fails to deal with any of the issues raised in posts above, again.

Your claim concerning homosexual marriages is predicated on a falsehood, that gay "marriages" might be an inspiration to real married couples. But this is, to day the least. Improbable as genuine monogamy is very rare amongst homosexual men, and their is no evidence that gay "marriages" will be any different.

A Christian approach to troubled marriages would be to encourage better marriage skills and encourage obedience to God, not defying God by blessing what He has forbidden.

Rebellion against God cannot lead to a better society. That kind of thinking is what led to the Fall.

Anonymous said...

In Canada gay rights has resulted in Evangelical Christians being turned into criminals who can be fined tens of thousands of dollars for merely publicly expressing their views. That is bad for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and is certainly another nail in the coffin of Western civilization.

So while Liberals may say there is nothing to worry about, that it's not the end of the world, the facts say otherwise.

mike greenslade said...

Kia ora Peter,
I like what Bryden has to say here. I am just wondering, in terms of commenters on this blog, who he identifies as Queens and who are the drones?

Father Ron Smith said...

"Where Charity and Love are - there is God" - Holy Thursday Antiphon -

Anonymous said...

Stripping people of their right to free speech and freedom of religion is not charitable nor loving. Neither is remaining silent when examples of this tyranny and oppression are raised. But I guess that it is just too difficult and inconvenient for the pro-ssm commentators here to deal with.

Perhaps if pro-ssm people and gay rights groups spent more time in mainstream Evangelical churches they might learn what real charity and love mean.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ahdar writes with a directness and candour I had long since ceased to associate with academics. So it is not surprising that the kneejerk reacion of liberal indignation (in reality, extreme illiberalism, the desire to punish unliked opinions) is to launch a petition calling for his sacking:
This is the typical conduct of the anti-Christian left: until they can criminalise speech they don't like (and they are working hard on this, with considerable success), their modus operandi is to persecute herestics by driving them out of their jobs, if they can. They are the totalitarian enemies of freedom and Christian faith, unable to argue with much cogency but seeking only to censor. This conduct was very common in the 1930s and is, in the strictest sense, satanic.


Bryden Black said...

Nice one Mike! Just apply vinegar; it helps sooth the stings ...

Jethro said...

I just read the report and a number of the responses to it. Is there any non-liberal positive comments on it anywhere?

A few questions:
Is talking of the sexes being different but equal and complementary really that shocking to people? Should we redefine womanhood if a man says he is one? Or should we redefine what it means to be a lawyer if a doctor says he is one?

I really don't mind if people want to say they are married, but as a church we have a long biblical and historical tradition that cannot be so easily ignored for the sake of not looking outdated. Why should we change our tradition to suit those who don't even share this tradition with us? And for those Jesus followers who are homosexual well they will have to join with every other Christian in dealing with their broken sexuality. Or do we all have perfect sexualities?

I think the irony of the whole thing is that today people no longer even see marriage as an ideal. Most of my non-Christian friends even think that marriage can work. They don't even think that it is good because they should have the freedom do, act and believe just as they like, and no one should get in the way of that, even a spouse! And that is what we are seeing this evening, a bill passed that says that nothing should get in the way of people doing and defining as they like.

Father Ron Smith said...

The New Zealand Parliament just voted on the Marriage Amendment Bill. The Result 77 Aye : 44 No - a resounding affirmation of the right of Same-Sex Couples to Marriage according to the law of New Zealand.

Most speeches in tonight's third reading of the Bill spoke of the need of the government to affirm the rights of intrinsically Same-Sex Couples to marry the person they wish to live with monogamously for the rest of their lives.

I guess Love, Tolerance, Fairness & Justice won the day. Deo gratias!

Bryden Black said...

This ARGUMENT is exactly that, a well worked piece by a legal mind whose every piece of training enables him to smell the difference between sheer assertion and true argument.

No wonder more beehives are being smashed all over the place. It diverts from the real issue: there is NO ARGUMENT IN AN ILLOGICAL, SELF-CONTRADICTORY PIECE OF LEGISLATION.

But Martin is right: political thuggery never really minded about failed arguments. One does really begin to wonder what's around the corner? More democratic centralism - of the power industry e.g.?!

Anonymous said...


Cultural Marxism, rebellion against God, hatred of the Christian Faith, and Liberal intolerance won the day.

"What sorrow for those who say evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.". Isaiah 5:20

"For a time is coming when people will not listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires, and look for teachers to tell them what their itching ears want to hear.". 2 Timothy 4:3

Anonymous said...

The State is not our friend.

Rosemary Behan said...

Hmm, I thought we all lived in a democracy? Campbell Live had a poll, who supports the new marriage legislation .. 22% .. and who doesn't wish it to pass .. 77%. Wow .. what a pity the legislators don't listen to the people who put them there.

Kurt said...

"The State is not our friend."--Shaawn Herles

And you really think that the corporations are...?

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Bryden Black said...

My dear Rosemary, What you do not appreciate is that you and I both (plus the rest of the 77%) are members of the lumpenproletariat , that benighted and blighted group whose only practical use is as slave labour in the gulags or as blood and bones fertilizer in the communal farms.

Alas, we shall never enter that enlightened erudite state known as the Vanguard of the Revolution. Not even re-education camps with their mass conversion programmes will be able to redeem us from our wretched ways.

Get used to it girl!

Father Ron Smith said...

Rosemary, I suggest you examine the sort of people who would have taken the trouble of responding to the 'Campbell Live' poll. Usually the activists against anything!

What counts is the people we elect to parliament in this country. In other countries - like Uganda - things would have been very different.

Joshua Bovis said...

@ Ron
"I guess Love, Tolerance, Fairness & Justice won the day"

So what you are implying Ron is when it comes to same sex marriage there are only two views one can have:
1. Be opposed to it(due to being homophobic, unloving, bigoted, unjust, unfair, intolerant, etc)


2. Be a supported of it (due to being loving, tolerant, fair just, accepting, enlightened.

So if anyone speaks out in support of the conservative view of marriage must be a homophobic bigot - (as if there is no other explanation!)
What a false dichotomy!
What utter nonsense!

Peter Carrell said...

A comment from Ron is posted with slight modification PLUS LATER an additional moderation.

The first modification removes an "either/or" which is part of Ron's style and objected to here and there by other commenters. I advise you Ron that if you wish to keep commenting here you must desist from making comments which imply that people who do not think our civil law should have changed to incorporate gay marriage are against LGBT people. Such a slur is, after all, a slur against my own good self. I am only tolerant to a degree.

The second moderation removes a comment which I initially accepted as a comment about the possibility of state opposition against the GLBT community being at the opposite end of the spectrum to the perceived friendliness of our state here. However a reasonable complaint has been made about that part of the comment as it might imply that some here support such extreme state opposition.

Here is the modified comment:

""The State is not our friend." - S.H

Maybe not. However, the State has become the friend of the marginalised LGBT people of our N.Z. community.

[Also edited]

"Where Charity and Love are - there is God".[edit]"

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters,
Fr Ron Smith is now on an extremely short leash re commenting here and may be banned.

If I ban Ron Smith from commenting it will not be the suppression of free speech as such but the liberation of my valuable time.

Ron: you have now been warned many times not to offend with your comments via gratuitas insults, false either/or's and such. Please pull your commenting socks up or I shall simply hit the delete button no matter what the quality of your comments are.

Anonymous said...

Let's not fudge the issue. Ron compared my view with that of the Nazi State, not merely "extreme state opposition."

That is a gutter level of debate and goes way beyond mere offense.

I have never advocated state persecution of anyone. Ironically Ron was silent when I brought up real examples of the state persecuting his fellow Christians, but now sees fit to compare me to a Nazi!

At the very least I am owed an apology by Ron.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
I respectfully disagree with you. Your reading of the comment, before moderation, is a possible reading. I originally published it because I read the remark as comparing what our state has done with what another state had done in the past.

Conversely, out of respect for you I then modified the comment in order that it not create unnecessary nor unintended offense.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

I'm sorry but that is just plain wrong. Ron was clearly making an equivalence between my views and the Nazis. Out of respect for me that comment should never have passed moderation in the first place.

I'm tired of this fudging of Ron's repeated personal attacks on me and others because of your failure to deal with him.

He will not listen to you now anymore than he has in the past because he knows his behavior will not being about any real consequences from you.

You deliberately changed his claim from Nazis to "extreme state persecution" thereby effectively lying about what he said to me. I don't say that lightly, but I am fed up with your fudging of the issue. I have been subjected to repeated abuse of the most extreme nature on this blog and nothing has changed, and now your making flimsy excuses for Ron.

I deserve better treatment than that.

As long as Ron is allowed to continue posting here I will not be. I dont come here to be a punching bag for Ron, nor to have my name dragged through the mud every few weeks by him because you will not act, and if your now going to make excuses for him we really have nothing more to talk about.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
We will have to agree to disagree.
I am making excuses for no one.
It is a right and proper thing to work out what the meaning of a statement is.
But it is also right and proper to dispute the proposed meaning of a statement and you have done that.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Much as I appreciate much of a comment you have just submitted, there is an errant word or two, actually quite a few, because you continue to misrepresent the situation, that need removing since such an errant word is offensive.

"Peter, I'm sorry I've caused you trouble with my challenge to Shawn Herles on your site.

To help your other commentators to feel safe within your community, I will as of now, desist from posting comments that differ from the tenor (there's that word again!) of like with like on your blog. This will enable you to harvest only those opinions that match with your own philosophy - which is your right!

The Lord be with you!

Bryden Black said...

As I have eaves-dropped on these latest rounds and now see its conclusion, I wish to say only this.
What I hold to (pun intended) in no way seeks to disparage those people who happen to deem themselves members of the LGBT communities. It is not the persons themselves; rather, it is their understanding and actions based on their understanding that will not, in my considered view, save themselves from falsehood in this matter of 'marriage'. And yes; the other pun is intended too!
Lastly, does this way of expressing it catch the right tone? I sure hope so! For I can't save myself!

Anonymous said...

My apologies to you Peter for the accusation of lying. That was uncalled for and abusive on my part, the very thing I am railing against.

My apologies to Ron also if I misread your response to me.

I'm going to ban myself for a week and spend more time with my family.

Peter Carrell said...

Accepted, Shawn.
Have a great week.

Bryden Black said...

Before signing off on this particular thread:

This article by George Weigel nails a vital aspect of our own happenings this last week re the Amendment of the Definition of Marriage. For at root I have come to the conclusion this entire movement has to do with two opposing anthropologies, the later emerging from out of the earlier.

The latter is itself founded upon the Great Christian Tradition of Revelation, focused upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its subsequent deep interpretation in such things as the doctrine of the Trinity and the Imago Dei. The former, which begins to emerge around 300 years ago in western culture, flowers in the fulness of time into the self-positing autonomous personal human subject, which just about every westerner takes simply for granted. Here morality - if such a thing actually exists at all - has become the sheer expression of my will, that which authenticates me. And while all sorts of rationalizations are often forthcoming to justify - as attempts to justify - the realization of my will, all are actually forms of emotivism; they are not reasons at all! For reasons imply something outside of myself, even outside of ourselves. They are expressions of The Way Things Are, as Weigel puts it. But that just takes us back to the earlier anthropology, one predicated upon a whole series of events ... and their judicious interpretation in the fulness of time historically.

Well; something to ponder folks, as we seek to address yet another turn of the screw ... Thank God I still somehow have a doctrine of divine providence! Oops; that’s predicated upon that Great Tradition again ...!

Father Ron Smith said...

In the latest, remarkable, issue of 'Taonga', I noticed the excellent report on the paper presented to the latest Hui Meeting by our Bishop Victoria Matthews on the subject of 'Marriage'. I noticed also, Peter, your own article which cites the difference between the conservative view and that of the seeming majority at the Hui.

I noticed, also, that your view seems to coincide broadly with that of Bishop Elena of Nelson.

This leaves me wondering whether or not it will be possible to live together in ACANZP with such diametrically opposing views. It seems that both you and Bishop Elena are suggesting the possible introduction of some sort of PEV arrangement - such as has cause havoc in the Church of England.

Short of allowing the Diocese of Nelson, perhaps, to become a sort of PEV facilitator, one wonders how it could work in our situation.

I suppose we will have to wait for the next General Synod Meeting to find whether any progress is made on this important matter. It would be a pity if a parting of the ways were to be occasioned by matters of gender and sexuality.

Bryden Black said...

Ron, you raise very pertinent and important points. Can ACANZ&P indeed remain ‘one’ and/or its various peoples not “walk apart”?

Where I differ however is in your causative diagnosis. I have been forced to conclude our differences do not concern “a parting of the ways ... occasioned by matters of gender and sexuality”. On the contrary, these are but symptoms, firstly, of opposing anthropologies and then secondly, of differing essential authorities and their means of legitimation.

You also refer to our GS next year. While I cannot exactly prejudge the Ma Whea? Commission’s final verdict with their recommendations, I am all too aware of their desired approach. I am also aware of the Reference Group’s slightly differing agenda. How these two will eventually play out together will certainly be more than a little interesting!

There is considerably more to be worked on here than you intimate, even as you are surely correct with your initial question.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Ron and Bryden
I am contemplating a post on episcopacy/unity and such!