Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Episcopal Voices (Updated)

Keeping track of developments in the States, post TEC's General Convention:

Love Letter From Albany

Central Florida Speaks

While keeping track of developments in the States, here are two more 'arguments' re same sex marriage:

Jordan Lawrence

Brandon Ambrosino


Undergroundpewster said...

+Albany must deal with the cognitive dissonance that while he will not approve of same-sex marriage ceremonies in his diocese, he will refer people to a neighboring diocese. Commenters have likened this to telling someone who asks you for drugs that they can go next door where you have arranged with a local dealer who will supply their need.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi 'Underground Pewster'
It is pretty rich talking about a bishop making views public under his actual name in terms of 'cognitive dissonance' when you are hide behind a pseudonym.
You will need to provide your first name (at least) if you are to be further published here (or contact me separately to reveal who you are).

Your analogy is pretty poor. It only works when the drugs are illegal. But TEC has (so to speak) made the 'drug' legal.

A better analogy might be that he is like a doctor who will not prescribe artificial contraception but is honour bound to inform the patient which nearby doctor will so prescribe. On that analogy Love would be a doctor whose theology has integrity while recognising the wider context concerning applicable laws.

Bryden Black said...

Three things and a conclusion stand out for me Peter in this Pastoral Letter from Love.

1. It is care-fully balanced. While his position is well argued and coherent (more about the latter below), he is naturally, as a shepherd, most concerned too about those in his charge who happen to identify as members of the LGBT communities. For ...
2. Such people are, shall we say, “facts on the ground”. While they are “brothers and sisters in Christ”, deserving Love’s love and respect, nonetheless they are also an ‘awkward’ - from Love’s theological stance - feature of the realpolitik that is contemporary TEC. And not only TEC, but also now, thanks to the 5/4 decision of Obergefell in the Supreme Court, a national legal fact.
3. Which brings me to the claim of coherence (and therefore to underground pewster’s comment). Yes; initially it might seem that Love’s position is “incoherent”, being a case of “cognitive dissonance”. But the difficulty is how to navigate both TEC’s present ethos and that of the nation, as now represented legally via the Supreme Court. Just as one might stand outside an abortion clinic in prayerful and silent protest (either here in NZ or in USA), given the sacredness of human life, born or unborn, and thereby hope for some pastoral engagement with some women who attend such clinics in the future, so too Christians may not take what I’d call the Essene Option - that is, hick off into the desert seeking isolation from a “wicked and unholy” culture with its “practices of darkness” - with their “brothers and sisters” who happen to be (currently) of the LGBT communities. Jesus’ own practice of holiness was certainly misunderstood in his own day - and that by almost every contemporary Jewish option, Sadducean, Pharisaic, Zealot, or Essene. Already it seems Love’s own approach is similarly misunderstood.
Yes; the LORD God of Hosts is most certainly Holy. And alongside his Glory, we may only zip our lips (Isa 6). Yet amazingly, Immanuel (Isa 7 & Matt 1/28) seeks to address our waywardness, not by isolation but by the patient exercise of mercy - in very close proximity! For the hope is that, by sticking closer than a brother, something of that holiness will eventually rub off onto our waywardness and a reconsideration of our folly eventuate: it’s called “repentance”. Personally, I think it will take our western cultures, who have embraced so-called “marriage equality”, some 3 generations to change their hearts and minds. But just as eventually the sheer bio-chemical fall-out from the oral contraception pill will ram home the fruitful lesson of human chastity, so too this our latest social experiment will encounter its own “facts on the ground”, which we may no longer ignore. That is certainly my prayer; and perhaps that of Bp Love too ...

Jean said...

An interesting lot of articles:

Self Autonomy is I guess the 'original sin' and inherent within myself also! However, it does seem to come up in a lot of discussions re sexual debates. I have observed a more liberal morality approach in general illiiciting a response of not only not casting a stone but being unwilling to set any standard or submit to any moderation of behavioiur. A previous flatmate who is a good friend has had umm... a number of liaisons ..and I was always curious when we had a good banter about issues such as is it appropriate to have a brothel owner sponsor a topless women's motorbike ride from Courtenay Place to Parliament in broad daylight?. His response was similar to the writer of the article arguing that is their choice, even when I countered with, and if it was your daughter watching it or your mother on one of the bikes? It was almost as if 'I know I have crossed a line so if continue to believe or act as if that is okay then I can hardly comment on others doing the same'.

The article on Jesus being sometimes wrong and His knowledge being limited to what was taught back in the day made my brain spin with all the possible responses to the different examples cited! Nevertheless, I was left thinking, Jesus can change his mind, OK if we give this concession what is not covered appears to be that Jesus is alive still today, here and now. If He was wrong, we can ask Him to make this clear.

Father Ron Smith said...

I'm reminded of Peter Sellars' role of 'Doctor Strangelove' in this sort of approach made by Bishop Love. It seems to be much the same sort of theological accommodation now being made in the Church of England for those in that Church who will not believe that women should be accepted as full members of the life and ministry of their Church - and yet they themselves continue to subscribe to the fundamental structure of canons and prescriptions of the C.of E.

Strange things indeed are being perpetuated, not only in TEC, but also in our Mother Church of England. Who'da thought it?

Perhaps that will be our situation here in ACANZP, once Motion 30 has been signed and sealed; which, I think it will be, once the delaying tactics of our Christchurch Standing Committee's resolution to delay its outworking is thrown out at the next General Synod.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Enns suggests, Jesus’ knowledge is limited to what was knowable in the first century because—and this is a key point that I’m afraid too many Christians don’t think about nearly enough—Jesus is, in many senses, limited by the first century." - Brandon Ambrosino -

As against your other 3 noted commentators in this thread, Peter, it would seem that Brandon has a real point to make towards the acceptance of a need for hermeneutical credibility in interpreting the scriptures concerning Jesus' traditional Jewish understanding of sex and gender matters. Brandon also has some pertinent questions to ask about the theological veracity of Sola Scriptura enthusiasm for puritanical moralising

I must confess my confusion with the concept of 'self-autonomy' quoted by Jean in her comment above. Is there any other kind of autonomy, I wonder? And exactly how does the individual use of human reasoning power militate against the Gospel imperatives?

Jean said...

Hi Father Ron

Are you back from your trip? Hope it isn't too cold...

'Self Autonomy' was used in one of the articles. My understanding is it is not the abscences of reasoning power, rather in the context used a reference to how humanity at times chooses to act independently of God's authority or even denies the existence of God (e.g the origin of the Devil's temptation re eating the fruit, did God really say you will die? He is just doing that so that He remains top dog etc etc).

So Autonomy is the exercise of individuality or choice, also sometimes called sovereignty or free will which God values so much he let us have us even if it meant the fall. Self Autonomy is the exercise of individuality or choice or free will which is guided soley by acknowledging oneself as the highest authority.

All the best

Father Ron Smith said...

I think the word you are grasping for here, Jean, is 'Freewill' - which is the gift of God; given that we might exercise the option to choose the best action that will advance the cause of the common good.

The problem with that, of course, is that we may well be mistaken about what is in the best interests of the majority. ISIS members, for instance, think that the best exercise of their God-given free will is to destroy the lives of those they believe are acting contrary to God's written ordinances! Now where have I heard that expressed in other religious contexts?

Jean said...

Hi again Fr Ron,

You will note my last post has the word free will in it, and gives reference to problems arising out of free will when it is not guided by or placed in submission to - freely I might add - God's authority.

A difference between Christianity and ISIS Islam, one is called to lay down one's life for others in the former, one is called to lay down ones life in order to take anothers in the latter.

Free will in surrender to God, for this is what it is to be Christian, is one place where the contention around homosexual activity being a sin or not stems from (aka your other religious contexts if I am reading your mind correctly). It is why Christians are taking it so seriously, because they want to ascertain whether blessing such unions is in accordance with God's will as revealed in scripture and confirmed by His spirit, or if it is only their own desire because they feel/think it should be so. To infer destroying lives of others who don't follow God's ordinances is anyones primary motivation in this ongoing debate is a little out of context; to want to stay true to God's ordinances, however, is not.


Father Ron Smith said...

Jean, one difference between Christian and ISIS theology - as I understand it - is precisely that Christianity is based on Love; whereas ISIS theology is based on puritanical vengeance (as being necessary to maintain God's 'LAW', as ISIS followers determine it to be).

Jesus was quite definite in his teaching that LOVE has overcome the Deuteronomic requirements of The LAW. Therefore, the Christian conscience that ought inform our best exercise of God-given freewill, should, surely follow the example of Jesus, rather than that of any outdated and mistaken lust for vengeance - in any situation. "They will know you're my disciples by your LOVE " (Not by your moralisation or quest for Vengeance! - both 'biblical' in essence)

Your assertion that homosexuality is 'against' God's will in creation, can be actually refuted by the mere fact of its existence in creation. It may be how we deal with the phenomenon - with Christian charity and LOVE, or with ISIS-like ridicule and Rejection - that determines our free will responses.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I encourage you to come up with a better argument than "Your assertion that homosexuality is 'against' God's will in creation, can be actually refuted by the mere fact of its existence in creation."

There are many things which 'exist in creation' which are not in accord with God's will. Patriarchy 'exists in creation' but it is not necessarily God's will in creation. The selfish survival of the fittest 'exists in creation' but it is not necessarily God's will in creation. Dying young from cancer inherited from one's own gene pool 'exists in creation' but is not necessarily God's will in creation.

I suggest you would persuade more readers here if you could offer an argument for homosexuality being God's will for creation which demonstrated where God has revealed to us that homosexuality is included in God's will for creation. The mere fact of existence of a phenomenon is neutral in respect of whether it is God's will for creation or not.

Bryden Black said...

I’ve been reluctant to join this thread again, since there are other more pressing matters in my life at the moment - like the worst drought in parts of North Canterbury possibly ever! Certainly, the drought in our own wee area is bad enough and creating real head-aches ... And I’m not at all sure that this too is “the will of God for his creation”! That said, I’ll turn to the point I wish to address, re “autonomy”.

I sense along the way, something has got “lost in translation” via the comments by Jean and Ron. Jean says, “Self Autonomy is the exercise of individuality or choice or free will which is guided soley by acknowledging oneself as the highest authority.” [July 27, 2015 at 6:44 AM] The phrase “self autonomy” comes from the Jordan Lawrence link originally. There he puts his finger correctly on something I have been saying here on ADU for a while: that at root we have two contrasting views of ‘human being’. Jean is also alluding to this sort of thing with her comment. And so to repeat from 13th May 2015:

“Is human being, as deemed by most anthropologies since the late 18th century, an autonomous self-positing personal subject? Or; is human being indeed “imago Dei, and so answerable to the Creator? Morality per se will look VERY different depending upon one’s answer.” And of course, from a genealogical point of view, many a contemporary appreciation of the human is derived, whether they are aware of it or not, from the Christian understanding, itself the direct fruit of a Trinitarian understanding of God the Creator, in whose Image humanity is made. Yet tragically, that very appreciation is now being seriously soured as the fruit is becoming severed from the root, a process that has taken some 300 years but one which nowadays is pretty well complete such is the “self autonomy” of most people and their societies in the West today.

Jean said...

Hi Ron

I concur with Peter's last post, and Bryden sums up what I was attempting to convey in regards to free will and wheter or not we are answerable to God or only our own consciences.

I agree with you Ron in that the heart of Christianity is love and it is this attitude of love which can illicit a positive free will response from people towards Jesus as opposed to one of condemnation.

At the same time I find myself needing to discern carefully the interpretation of love. Jesus shows grace and love to the sinner, he fulfilled the law by taking sin upon himself, but no where did he call what was sin, not sin - 'go and sin no more' His love transformed the sinner rather than justifying the sin. So if a dispute over whether something or not is sinful arises due to its place in scripture this needs careful contemplation.

For example 'you shall have no other gods before me' and 'no one comes to the Father except through me' could be considered to be lacking in love for those who are from other faiths, unless it is true. Unless God through the Holy Spirit has made this known to us because it is so, He is the only way, and He loves us so much He wants people to know this so they may come to Him and have eternal life. Of course this must be conveyed through acting in love and telling the truth in love.

Bryden my prayers are with your community. There is still a drought here in the South of Canterbury too but it is always drier up your way. Keep up the good work.

Kind Regards

Father Ron Smith said...

"Jesus shows grace and love to the sinner, he fulfilled the law by taking sin upon himself, but no where did he call what was sin, not sin" - JEAN -

No, Jean. But nowhere in the scriptures does jesus call homosexuality 'a sin'.

Perhaps I've missed it, if it is ever mentioned by Jesus in the Bible.

re your comment, Peter, on my reference to the fact that homosexuality is in nature. This is clearly exhibited in both animal and human behaviour. the activity of sinning requires a rebellion against one's given nature - whether that be hetero- or homosexual. This is what Saint Paul calls 'perversity' - although he is judged by conservative Christians as speaking only of homosexual behaviour, per se. A more modern hermeneutical view is that it could be construed as including contrary behaviour by a homosexual.

Sin is a wilful flouting of the natural law. For an intrinsically gay person, this could be construed as going against his/her true nature. After all, is this not the same for the heterosexual person?

Thus, for a heterosexual person to engage in homosexual behaviour, would be perversion. Likewise, for a homosexually-oriented person, to engage in heterosexual behaviour could, likewise, be considered perversion. Most heterosexual persons would not agree with this logic. However, that is how it must appear to an intrinsically homosexual person, who has no other way of exercising his/her natural giftedness.

Father Ron Smith said...

To Bryden, re his last comment on this thread: Yes, indeed, the Lord God of Hosts is Holy; but we his human children are not. Even Jesus, when addressed by someone as "Good Master", was reported to have replied; "Who are you calling good? There is One Alone Who is Good". So that, if even Jesus in human form did not consider himself to be good (as God is Good) how on earth dare we lesser mortals consider ourselves to be anywhere near that category of sinlessness? ("I came, not to call the righteous, but sinners" - Jesus)

We are all, as one commentator once said; like poor sinners showing other sinners where to find bread. We have no ground on which to judge others.

Jean said...

Hi Fr Ron,

Same sex sex was not mentioned by Jesus specifically, neither was polygamy or co-habitation. However, all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is consistently referred to in the bible as sexual immorality, which is considered a sin by Jesus and other biblical writers. Hence, the careful discernment needed when 'the church' worldwide is considering whether or not SSM fits in this category and whether or not it is right in God's eyes, and all the ensuing debates

My interpretation of sin is not the 'wilful flouting of natural law' but disobedience to God, which during the fall became part of our 'nature'. Trusting that as 'God is love' and acceptance of the forgiveness of our sins through Christ's death frees us from bondage, it also stirs again in us a desire out of love for Him and with the help of the Holy Spirit to be obedient to Him.

Enjoy the sunshine,

Father Ron Smith said...

Jean, I'm afraid your so-obvious lack of understanding of the situation of Gay people renders me unable to dialogue with you.
Agape, Father Ron.

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Ron for opening the door for what I have been wanting to do for years - but have refrained from doing out of common courtesy.

When asked to actually substantiate your position, time and again you have sought shelter behind the infamous political 13 second grab of “justice” or “love”. As if sounding off with such slogans resolved/solved the complex matters to hand. Now, when Jean spells it out really quite specifically, you dodge the bullet. Sorry; but this is not good enough, not at this stage of our affairs in ACANZ&P.

What is actually wrong with Jean’s answer? I too have very good friends who happen to identify as members of the LGBT communities. Some of them happen also to be Christians. And then again some of them happen to seek to remain chaste. And they do this on the understanding that sexual intimacy is confined, on the basis of Scripture, to a life-long relationship between a husband and wife, a man and a woman, in marriage.

Just because some have deemed “sexual orientation” to be ‘given’, and given in some vaunted ‘created order’, does not therefore solve the matter. For many others have precisely viewed such “orientation” to be a manifestation, a symptom, of a FALLEN creation order. You have consistently failed to demonstrate the opposite: that God intends such traits of humanity to be for their specific good; and that others, who deny this, are wrong thereby and are at fault.

Please Ron; address the matter at hand in such a way that might actually persuade those of us who have concluded on the basis of such hermeneutical principles which are reasonably sound and readings of cultural history which are to hand that we have got it wrong. The alternative is but an anarchic “will to power”, the sheer zeitgeist of the present, which persuades few of us as to its authenticity. That is, as a vaunted display of “self autonomy” indeed.

Father Ron Smith said...

Some of us on the ground, Bryden, in active pursuit of the truth of Jesus Christ in the Gospel, do not seek to quote reams of other people's philosophy to boost their own presuppositions. We have laboured long and hard as servants of Christ and have come to that point in our lives when we can only speak of our own experience of the love and mercy of God as we have expoerienced it.

I'm mindful of Paul's admonition, that we can have all the academic, theological and philosophical wisdom in the world, but without Love, they are worth nothing!

I'm sorry the simple word' LOVE' seems to so offend you. I'm reminded of the story of the Beloved Disciple, John, in old age being carried on the shoulders of the believers into the church in Ephesus. When asked for a sermon, his exhortation was this : "Little children, love one another". I can't do better than that!

Jesus said: "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples - that you love one another!" - In Christ, there is no condemnation!

Bryden Black said...

Thank you for responding Ron. Unfortunately there remains a problem, and the problem is this.

In the first place, the problem is not that of “love”. Any Christian worth their salt knows only too well the Fourth Gospel, the First Letter of John, and St Paul’s famous 1 Cor 13 (even if the rhetorical irony of that chapter is often missed!). And so I expect we all seek to “love” even if our loving is far from perfect “on the ground”. That said ...

The difficulty I have Ron is that it is far from obvious what loving behaviour actually consists of. If it were obvious, then I expect we would not be having these heated debates. For the heart of the debate has to do with behaviour, what stuff occurs or does not occur “on the ground” indeed.

You cite correctly the Beloved Disciple’s call to love. I’d also reference his finale: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” For it is to a large extent a function of contemporary idolatry that we are also having this debate. Otherwise, how else to explain the basic distinction between understandings of human being: that which derives essentially from Christian anthropology, versus that which derives from 18th century views of the human onwards. And it is these latter views which are now quite simply assumed by almost all westerners. To be sure; they would seldom have even heard of folk like Kant or Rousseau, or Nietzsche or Foucault. But ignorance or knowledge of such folk has nothing to do with forms of behaviour that are quite simply assumed as ‘being the case’, ‘natural and obvious’, whatever their supposed origin. They are just “facts on the ground”.

That said, I’d expect most western clergy, who are shepherds and watchmen (sic), as per the Scriptures, to have some vague idea of those cultural forces that impinge upon human behaviour. Otherwise, why engage in any ministry of the Word, Sunday by Sunday, or why recite the likes of Cranmer’s warnings ahead of receiving the Sacrament? Of course, one may, with libertine abandon, lower one’s expectations of either ... as if sanctification and/or mortification were not an issue at all ... But that too is not the Gospel. For when Paul declares, after that tortuous Romans ch.7, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ... there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, he continues later very clearly with 8:9-16.

And so what is the nature and expression of Christian love, Ron? That form of love which is the basis of our hope and the expression of our faith? [Just so Romans 8:17-39] Answer that question, please, in the context of early 21st C western culture; and justify that answer carefully, just as Paul himself justifies his entire paraenetic teaching by means of the Gospel of Jesus - that which God has done through Christ Jesus and now continues to do with and through and in us by his Holy Spirit.

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter,

When I became a (what some Evangelicals but no Latin would call a born again) Christian, I took the view that I had one and only one human right. The right was to reject Christ or accept him for who he is, not with a qualifications as to who I am or who my friends are. I know this because I remember the preaching that convinced me that this was true. I find it very difficult to understand the views of other Christians, who try to graft secular notions of human rights (whatever they are)onto the catholic (note the lower case) faith. I am not a philosopher, but the Lockean notions of rights embraced by documents such as the US Constitution and, indeed the pale stale male West, are truly quaint in their anachronism. Individual rights are a passing luxury based on food supply and peace. I would be interested in a defence of homosexual blessings based on the common good of all; which I suggest is what we are here for and what we will be judged on.I have absolutely no interest in hearing about love if it does not serve a common good. Historically that has included children related to the parents.



Father Ron Smith said...

"Just because some have deemed “sexual orientation” to be ‘given’, and given in some vaunted ‘created order’, does not therefore solve the matter. For many others have precisely viewed such “orientation” to be a manifestation, a symptom, of a FALLEN creation order." - Dr. Bryden Black -

I've put off replying to this assertion of yours Bryden, because I, too, have been somewhat busy - about the Lord's business - celebrating the Eucharist for 4 days in succession over the last few days.

I think you fail to see the inconsistency of your argument, above-quoted, when you insist that homosexuals are in some way particularly prone to exhibit signs of 'The Fall'. Surely, even you might admit that this is not exclusive to gay people. Heterosexuals, too, are capable of exhibiting signs of 'The Fall'. Yours is an argument seemingly restricted to those criticised by Jesus as guilty of the Mote and Log mentality. WE are ALL Sinners!

Agape, Fr. Ron

Bryden Black said...

Hi there Ron; thank you again for responding - but I would ask you to perhaps look more carefully at the quote you wrest from my comment, especially its immediate context. Nowhere in the comment as a whole, or in this extract, or anywhere else for that matter on ADU, have I said what you seem to have construed.

Of course all human beings, whatever category we might use to describe them, and by whatever form of categorization (size, ethnicity, age, sexuality, era, appearance...)—all such humans, according to traditional orthodox Christian faith, are fallen creatures - essentially good, yet fundamentally fallen [NB the Latin etymology in both modifiers, esse & fundus, which are NOT synonyms].

If you see more carefully what is being said in that extract and what is not being said, you might be able to come up with this dilemma, or rather this construal of the heart of the debate before us, and so the true nature of our problem: what constitutes moral behaviour and what constitutes immoral behaviour, and why - that is, on what grounds?

It is claimed that, in the first place, “sexual orientation” is “a given”, a part of one’s human nature. This may or may not be the actual case; the jury is still out to some degree on this matter, just as the jury is certainly still out regarding the complex, multifactorial aetiology of homosexuality itself. But let’s assume homosexuality is a given for the moment. And then secondly, let’s say also - and the also is crucial - that such sexuality is NOT part of the Fall, but indeed part of “the created order”: just the way things are and are meant to be, that 2% or so of both men and women find themselves attracted to members of the same gender.

It’s just here Ron in this previous paragraph that we’ve to disentangle the lines of thought and/or argument. (1) One’s sexual orientation - still, as I say, a not undisputed category - is a given. (2) When that ‘given’ then is epigenetically fostered by culture, as all predispositions and/or hard-wired traits are as human beings, we need to ask: is that a good thing or a bad thing? For example, when out on a date, either as a gay person or a strait person, what is the moral, loving way to behave? What cultural forces are we to be wary of and what may be given sway, and to what degrees? [NB this form of the question, which leads directly back to my previous comment, re your generalized notion of “love” and my sharper “what loving behaviour actually consists of.”] (3) One key factor to bring to bear upon any answer to that question/series of questions, for any human being’s actions, is how one views human nature: is sex at all at all a ‘good’ thing; is it a good thing, but requires nonetheless certain important forms or channels or patterns/institutions surrounding it - just as other vital features of the human need channeling if they are to reach their true potential and due expression, like work or art or, yes, even leisure. Or is sex somehow ‘compromised’ especially - as some interpret Augustine’s views on concupiscence - due to the Fall? And so is so for both gays and straits? (4) Or lastly, is there something specific about gender that especially makes it a vital feature of the human? Is there something utterly intrinsic to our male/female human identity, as a reading of Gen 1 & 2 might strongly aver? So that - and here we will almost certainly part company - whatever the precise mechanism(s) of what we now find ourselves calling “orientation”, heterosexual desire and homosexual desire are not equivalents. The former is one natural manifestation of the divine image (albeit now also mixed, on account of the Fall), while the latter is just what I said previously, a symptom, a manifestation of the fallen order of creation, per se.

Jean said...

Maybe an example will help clarify thinking. I agree Ron and hopefully others do that we definitely 'all fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace'.

A long time ago in my younger years after 'returning' to 'the church' I was in the position of 'living' albeit separate rooms with my boyfriend at the time. Now having returned to church this situation bothered me, not because anything was said, it just didn't sit well with me. Yet there was intense pressure as there is in my generation and younger for 'living together'. Anyhow, I was praying at the time about two things:
a) my grandmother who was ill and dying and b) how God saw the position I was in. A visiting preacher had two words of knowledge at the beginning of a service which were direct answers to my prayers (with particular details that could not have been generally applied). Anyway the word to (b) was "it is probably not the best thing".

Now I don't view this response to my prayer at the time as God therefore rejecting me or not loving me, I take iit as His knowledge of the situation I was in. He could hardly say it was okay or good for me when it wasn't because He is Love. But knowing all the complexities involved in His own way he wasn't saying either you are the worst person in the world and you shall be condemned.

Anyway, I know personal testimonies are subjective and there is no need to take what I say as gospel truth. I just thought it could be a helpful illustration of how 'no this isn't the best' can be an act of Love and isn't restricted to same sex attracted people nor is the other extreme of being totally legalistic without an understanding of the background of the individuals circumstances a good approach.

Interestingly I was reading stuff today and there were two articles generally around what has come up recently: one on marrying oneself and the other on transgender people who have had a sex change getting them reversed.

Peter Carrell said...

[My apologies, Bryden, I pushed 'Delete' by mistake for the following concluding comment to the comment immediately above].

(5) Conclusion. As a result of all these considerations and forks in the road, some forms of heterosexual behaviour are morally right and some are wrong; some forms of homosexual behaviour are morally right, and some are wrong. E.g. We live in a culture that deems pretty well most expressions of our sexuality should be paraded, even flaunted; and yet certain forms like paedophilia are absolutely taboo. And this goes for both gays and straits. We both agree however that such flaunting is not such a good idea; we humans need certain ‘good institutions’ to channel and even support our behaviour. Where we differ is where we exactly fork down which road in the sets of options 1-4 above, and how we ‘read’ both human being and the Scriptures, and vitally their interface. You speak often of your “experience”; I just say that such a category - on its own! - is virtually useless; for in fact ALL experience in human beings is already preloaded with cultural understanding such that in fact it is already the case we have experience-and-understanding thrown together, by means of which we evaluate any forms of behaviour. You deem sexual intimacy - within the bounds of any one-on-one adult commitment for life - legitimate. I do not; I still am yet to be persuaded (especially by your ongoing refusal to legitimate adequately your understanding - of experience) that the traditional notion of the Estate of Matrimony, as the life-long union of a man and a woman, is not the proper and due and only, divine intention for any and all human sexual intimacy. What this last position implies is this: that sexual intimacy between any gay or lesbian persons is a “tragic irony” - that is, they naturally seek to find sexual desire, and all that this connotes and seemingly fulfils, in a form of behaviour which in essence will always fall short of the ideal as determined by the Creator who made us male and female. So that, to conclude, the best moral form of behaviour offered one who deems themselves one of the LGBTIQ communities is either conjugal marriage in the Estate of Matrimony, or the life of chaste singleness - with admittedly huge support from close, understanding and compassionate friends (just like one would expect a similar circle of support for any who happen to find themselves also manifesting any symptom of the Fall - whatever its aetiology - like cancer or mental illness).

So Ron; we need to tease out these various dimensions of the problem before us, and not conflate what is rather subtle but key features which comprise the whole matter. As for “the Lord’s business”: I’d hope Adam would agree farming was integral to such! Yet I’ll email you the substantial text of yesterday’s sermon: you are not alone matey!

Father Ron Smith said...

Unfortunately for your argument, Bryden, when you hold forth in your lengthy dissertations in part response to my statements about homosexuality; you do include phrases that need to be unpacked, One such is below-mentioned:

".. is sex somehow ‘compromised’ especially - as some interpret Augustine’s views on concupiscence - due to the Fall? And so is so for both gays and straits?" - Dr. Bryden Black -

I must confess, I do not see the gift of sexuality in quite the same way as Saint Augustine (who certainly knew a thing or two about his own exercise of that gift - before his conversion). It seems to me that the greatest barrier to the more perfect situation of one-to-one relationship in marriage is the tendency to avoid such monogamous commitment as is implicit in such a relationship.

Not all marriages are blessed with children, and not all Christians are called to the married state. In fact, Saint Paul seems to think that marriage might be for those people unable to maintain a celibate life-style - "it is better to marry than burn!" However, heterosexual marriage is a necessity for the continuance of the human race. There will always, presumably, be enough couples wanting to procreate, so that the human race seems unlikely to die out! Exactly how the marriage of two same-sex persons could ever 'threaten' the culture of hetersexual marriage is, therefore, a question hardly worthwhile the asking.

The real problem with human sexuality is that it is heir to the tendency to promiscuity - whether the participants be gay or straight - so that any movement towards the acceptance of a faithful bond of relationship between two persons - whether gay or straight - must be an encouragement towards the building of a stable society, built on faithfulness in relationships.

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden - a further pericope, taken from your final paragraph, above, in response to my earlier posting on 'experience':

" You speak often of your “experience”; I just say that such a category - on its own! - is virtually useless; for in fact ALL experience in human beings is already preloaded with cultural understanding such that in fact it is already the case we have experience-and-understanding thrown together, by means of which we evaluate any forms of behaviour." - Bryden Black -

I venture to say that the experience of the prophets and writers of the scriptures might take umbrage at this suggestion, that their experience of the 'Word of God' that they experienced as motivating their utterances might be, as you say, 'virtually useless'. Without such individual experiences of God's call upon our lives - by the grace of the Holy Spirit - how on earth would there be any personal conversion to the Christian Faith?

If you read, carefully, Jean's last comment, you will become apprised of the way in which she learned of God's will for her - from 'a word of knowledge' which she took to be the truth for her own specific situation. That was her own, individual and unique 'experience' of God speaking to her personally about what she then saw as the critical error of her current relationship.

"Experience will decide - how blest are they, and only they, who in the Lord confide" - words of a once-popular hymn. Faith, initially, is a personal thing. With proper nurture, it may help us grow into the Body of Christ.

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Ron for responding again - twice! I am doubly blessed!

I must confess too it would appear you are most reluctant to unpick the necessary steps of any practical, moral reasoning process. For all that, I shall try one last time - with the material you now supply.

You refer to “the experience of the prophets and writers of the scriptures” as well as to Jean’s experience. Yet both illustrate precisely my point. How so? Both “prophets and writers of the scriptures” and Jean abide within quite specific traditions, which very traditions provide them (as with any human beings in their traditions) with templates of meaning that enable them to understand their experience. A classic example is the boy Samuel in ch.3. He is too young to have been initiated into the ways of the covenant God of Israel. So that when the Lord speaks, he precisely misunderstands the experience - and toddles off to Eli. Eventually the penny drops with Eli and he initiates him into what to do and how to do it (it is in fact ever so with any human being; we all need initiation into our respective templates of cultural meaning: it’s called socialization). So that the next time Yahweh speaks, Samuel gets it and is able to listen and so hears the word of the Lord.

What I am saying Ron is just this. You speak of conversion - and rightly so. For what is occurring in any conversion process is that one is reimagining one’s template of meaning; one is being socialized out of one frame of reference and into another. An easy example is the jettisoning of the Ptolemaic worldview and aligning oneself with Copernicus and Kepler and Galileo: the actual experience of a sunrise has by no means changed one bit, BUT one’s understanding has changed entirely! Just so with the debates before us regarding how to evaluate the understanding of the experience of members of the GLBT communities. And the crux here is whether at all we should be redefining the nature of marriage; and if so, on what basis - by means of what template might the Church alter its practices? Alternatively, by what template might the Church say to the world: yes; we have all got much of how we treat members of the GLBT communities wrong in the past (we have decriminalized the behaviour after all). But to reconstruct (and that is the right word) the very nature of marriage is not just a bridge too far; it is predicated upon another understanding of human being entirely, one that is based NOT on a Christian anthropology but on one that has arisen out of the last 300 years of European cultural experience - which very experience has as its root template “human being as an autonomous self-posting personal subject”. Sure; there are direct links between these two views - but that too is just my point: we need to be far more discerning as to how the one has morphed into the other, and why.

Now; you might be unwilling/unable to address each of the various steps in the moral reasoning process, comparing one end result with another, and so highlighting clearly how we reach and so advocate one form of behaviour rather than another: be that as it may. Yet to merely advocate “Love” tout court as if that solved our problems, as you so often do on ADU, actually does not advance our overall discernment of what concretely we are to do in the end as a Church in these days, given the swirling confusion. For in the end, it is by concrete actual behaviour that any of us are to be evaluated - especially those of us who are shepherds and watchmen of the Community of God, “the Lord’s business” indeed. Otherwise I’d stop writing tomorrow ...!

Father Ron Smith said...

" Yet to merely advocate “Love” tout court as if that solved our problems, as you so often do on ADU, actually does not advance our overall discernment of what concretely we are to do in the end as a Church in these days, given the swirling confusion. For in the end, it is by concrete actual behaviour that any of us are to be evaluated - especially those of us who are shepherds and watchmen of the Community of God, “the Lord’s business” indeed. Otherwise I’d stop writing tomorrow ...!" - Dr. Bryden Black -

"A NEW Commandment give I unto you, that you LOVE one another as I have loved you". Jesus said this, without reserve; to overcome all those shibboleths that had accrued in the tradition that had placed judgement above the simple action of Loving. Make no mistake, dear Bryden; that was the scandal that undid Jesus in the eyes of his contemporary theologians and rule-makers: "He lived singing Love, and he died singing Love, and he rose singing love. It seems such a pity that a bright bloke like yourself simply doesn't seem to get it. However, God loves you! But he loves all the LGBTI people, too, with the very same passion and Love, and died for us all.
Deo gratias!

I'm looking forward to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, where there won't be any sexual activity to be scared of. But that's another world! In the meantime, earthly Marriage is the very best place for sexual activity - for anyone who wants to avoid promiscuity. Even Paul said: "It is better to marry than burn", and he ought to know - what with his own 'thorn in the flesh' and all.

Bryden Black said...

Well Ron; it's sure good to know we can both know God's undying Love, as you say!

That's because we've been initiated into that community which has learned to understand the sight of a man, tortured and naked, strung up on a Roman gibbet for all the world to see was not yet another pesky Jew getting his cumupance - but was the very Lord of Creation behaving in the most loving way ever imaginable! Now; I don't know abt you but I wld NEVER have thought that one up: it's way beyond my ken ....