Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Kiwi Response to the Scots Showing the English the Way Forward (3)

From a few posts further back, the third in a series of responses to issues/questions raised. The third issue/question was stated thus:

"(3) "I agree that living with difference is a model that can work for "disputable matters".

But why not apply this same logic to priests living in a de facto relationship? That is a widely accepted practice in today's society but it violates God's commandments to us in the same way as active homosexual relationships do.

Once you start down the road of "co-existence" or "living with difference" you need very clear guidelines about what is disputable and what is not. 
To follow your analogy, are we still really a team if we're wearing the same jumper but every player plays according to their own set of rules?""

[Clarification: I understand 'de facto relationship' to mean 'de facto heterosexual relationship'.]

My response:

I absolutely agree with 'Once you start down the road of "co-existence" or "living with difference" you need very clear guidelines about what is disputable and what is not.' Without such agreement on what we are disagreed about, there would be the chaos of 'every player plays according to their own set of rules.'

But what we are facing in the current situation is no group of priests living in de facto heterosexual relationships and requesting similar treatment to those who are married. It is not difficult to imagine the arguments if that were the situation we were facing.

Nor are we facing the situation where it is agreed as to what constitutes violation of God's commandments (yet nevertheless one group wants permission to go ahead and violate them).

We are facing a situation where there is a disputable issue as to what violates God's commandments within a group of Christians who otherwise either agree on many matters or have a settled state of disagreement about other matters. Given that we do not seem to be able to resolve the disputable issue (one way or the other), and all parties to the dispute wish to remain in the same church, then we have a question of how we remain together with this particular difference.

Nor is the situation one in which people are seeking to play by their own rules. Indeed it could be argued that the opposite is the case: that the dispute is rapidly focusing on one specific issue, whether same sex marriages will be performed in churches, and thus gay and lesbian persons are seeking to play by the same (marriage) rules as heterosexuals.

In sum: the issue here boils down to whether or not we can agree on what constitutes violation of God's commandments. The question is, what happens when we cannot agree?


Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

I've thought a lot about the practical implications of Motion 30 and I just can't see it working. At best it's a Chamberlain-like "peace in our time" moment where the driver is to stop the church splitting into two factions. However I think the problem is in how two diametrically opposite views can be met within one organisation. Take the example of who selects candidates for ordination - under the one church model how can either side be assured that their candidates won't be effectively "blackballed" for belonging to the wrong group. As an evangelical I have had friends go forward for this process and be rejected because their views didn't match the views of the deciding panel. I think that there are only these options: firstly, - there is an agreement to accepted the blessing of gay couples, secondly - there is an confirmation of the traditional view, and thirdly, there is a negotiated split.

I would appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this.

Cheers - Chris

Father Ron Smith said...

Well said, Peter.

I think the real issue is whether, or not, the Church wants to encourage faithful, monogamous, couple relationships - whether Gay or Straight. The alternative, by negative association, is to leave the way open for multiple relationships. Surely, that is neither in the best interests of either Church of Society.

My understanding of a 'de facto' relationship, is that it can be just as monogamous and faithful as Marriage, but without the documentation. The couple may still have legal backing.

Father Ron Smith said...

With regard to Chris' comments. The attempt to keep people together - despite differences on an issue that most Church-people seem not to be too worried about - is surely laudable. To suggest that there is no room for compromise is to say: "I am right! I will countenance no other option!" I s this what the Church needs? Or even wants?

People are entitled to their own opinion. What they are not entitled to do is put a blanket embargo on the opinions of others - by threatening to leave.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Chris
I think much depends on what compromise is acceptable across the breadth of the church.
For example if those keen to see same sex marriage approved (a la the current move in TEC towards a marriage canon and rite which is gender neutral) are unwilling to accept that the marriage canon in our church does not change but approval is given for blessings of same sex partnerships, then we are unlikely to have a compromise on the table which those opposed to same sex marriage might consider agreeing to.
Rather than focus on what is in direct opposition to whatever, what if we think on the things we are united on?
Yesterday I was in a meeting of folk from the three South Island dioceses. We managed to canvas a range of matters on models of ministry now and going forward and never once talked about differences on homosexuality!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Peter

This is a vexed issue - I appreciate your willingness to work through its complexities. I do wonder if the issue is never raised because it's the proverbial "elephant in the room".

Cheers - Chris

Father Ron Smith said...

"In sum: the issue here boils down to whether or not we can agree on what constitutes violation of God's commandments. The question is, what happens when we cannot agree?" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

The other problem here, Peter, is that we cannot always agree on what 'God's commandments' might be. For instance, In Jesus' day, Jewish religion demanded stoning for a woman 'caught in the act of adultery' (No penalty, seemingly for the man involved!). However, Jesus seemed to countermand that penalty, which the Scribes and Pharisees obviously saw as 'God's commandment'.

There is nothing in the 10 Commandments about Gay relationships!.

Andrew Reid said...

Dear Peter,

Thanks for your response and engaging graciously with those who take a different view to you.

I think perhaps where we differ is the degree to which both sides disagree on other issues. Your perspective is that we "agree on many matters or have a settled state of disagreement about other matters".
My perspective is that, in general, both sides of this debate have fundamentally different views about Biblical authority and interpretation. My expectation is that it will be impossible for both groups to remain within the same church with such fundamental differences on the nature of our faith. Even if we remain with the Anglican Communion (which has proven impossible in North America), we will be effectively different churches with different gospels.

Best wishes,
Andrew Reid

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew
Yes, I am writing out of the ACANZP context where we do seem to have held considerable disagreement in tension over many decades, possibly with less friction than other Anglican churches.
Yes, 'the centre may not hold', here, there, and in the Communion itself.
I do think that if TEC goes the whole hog this GC and removes gender distinction from its marriage canons and rites then they will have removed themselves from fellowship with those Anglican churches which cannot go that far.