Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Weighing responses to the Final Report

I have been thinking. Dangerous, I know! Thinking, that is, about the persistent lines of responses being made here (and, blogwise, near here) and why, to a degree, I remain relatively unperturbed about continuing to support the Motion 29 WG Final Report proposal [same sex blessings] ("the proposal"), at least in general terms.

First, the persistent lines, which I paraphrase here in my own words. If they are not exactly the views espoused by those named below, my words represent what has made an impact on my own thinking as I have read your comments and blog posts.

Theological Anthropology: we cannot and should not set forth on a matter of human flourishing (such as deciding what human actions and relationships we might bless) without starting that journey in a theologically informed anthropology, such anthropology being resolutely coherent with the story of creation, fall and redemption, with particular attention to creation of humanity being creation of man and woman, man for woman and woman for man. Our church has not done this and it will regret its absence if it proceeds with the proposal. This impact on my mind is especially associated with Bryden Black in comments here, and in published writings elsewhere.

Pastoral Care: God is love, God calls his people to love one another, such love recognises that where there is love, there is God, and such love covers a multitude of sins. As a church we are called to love the GLBTQi members among us and we should bless marriages and marriage-like relationships between people of the same gender, whether on the grounds that such blessing recognises that where love is, there is God; or, even if we think a sin is being committed, such blessing might be permitted under the rubric that love covers a multitude of sins. This impact on my mind is especially associated in my mind with Ron Smith in comments here and on his blog Anglo-Catholic Liberality.

Healing and Wholeness: We are stuck on arguing over the wrong questions, let alone unhelpful answers being proposed to the questions. Our most important question is what is helpful in the long run (i.e. into eternal life) for the healing and wholeness of individual members of the church, as well as what contributes to the health of the body of Christ as a Christian community; and the answer to this question, for individuals and for the community of faithful individuals must be drawn from Scripture, with a particular alertness to guard against reading Scripture in cultural frameworks which are not themselves Scripturally informed. In sum, we need to reconstruct our understanding of marriage, of the church's role in marriage, of the blessed life and what God does and does not bless, and do so in a radical manner, so far rarely attested to in current Communion and individual Anglican provincial debates; and if we do this we might find that both conservative and progressive responses to date are misconstrued. This impact on my mind is especially associated with Bowman Walton in comments here.

Justice: Canon and Liturgy: The church is called to fairness, to equitable outcomes for its members, as it both governs and manages its life as community of believers. Given the pathway ACANZP has taken to secure a canonical and liturgical response to remarriage of divorcees, even to the point of setting aside the teaching of Jesus and concomitantly to a workaround past its own constitution, it is a simple matter of justice that the same church secures a canonical and liturgical response to same sex couples, with the same willingness to be exegetically and theologically dexterous. This impact on my mind is especially associated with Bosco Peters in comments here and on his blog Liturgy (noting three responses to date to the proposal, One, Two, Three). Recently a mutual colleague here in the Diocese of Christchurch, Chris Spark has written and the Latimer Fellowship has published a paper which precisely tackles the possibility of "Double Standards?"

Unchangeable revelation: God has spoken about human sexuality and God has not changed his mind. Whether we espouse this through an Eastern Orthodox lens (many of Andrei's comments) or a Roman lens (many of Nick's comments) or an Anglican lens (many of Glen's comments, with special reference to the unchangeability of ACANZP's constitution in respect of its Fundamentals), the result is pretty much the same: no to SSB, a resounding NO to SSM.

Family and Freedom: my persistence


Almost needless to say, as the most moderate centrist writing here (!!), I find something agreeable in all of the above!

I find, for instance, that theological anthropology helps support me to maintain distinction on the question of whether gender matters for understanding marriage. It does matter: marriage is a one flesh relationship between a man and a woman. Whatever the situation, the grace, the qualities of two men or two women in a relationship, I do not see a way for theology to enable a change to the definition of marriage in Christian understanding of marriage. (Thus I remain concerned that our church will not settle for SSB but see it as a step on the way to SSM incorporated into the doctrine of our church.)

To that extent, as far as we can make out the mind of God through Scripture, we have an unchangeable revelation re marriage. I am not so sure, however, that we have an unchangeable revelation about how we might respond and support people in the circumstances of their lives. Whatever we make of discussion about divorce and remarriage, the church has struggled with this matter, a struggle which has led to some theological dexterity, both in the Roman church ("annulment"), the Orthodox church (differing marriage ceremonies), and the Protestant churches (where today much is at the discretion of the minister presiding over the wedding)

Consideration of pastoral care combined with the question of Justice:Canon and Liturgy means there is a case for our church (for any church: as has been pointed out here recently, some Roman episcopal/cardinal leaders are opening discussions on SSB) to consider ways and means by which we (to quote German Bishop Franz-Josef Bode from the just linked article)

"ask ourselves how we’re encountering those who form such relationships and are also involved in the Church, how we’re accompanying them pastorally and liturgically.

The question of Justice is the question of whether our (canonical, liturgical) ability as a church to accompany divorced persons seeking remarriage might be matched by a similar ability to accompany committed same sex couples. For those concerned that (in God's eyes) we are blessing illicit sex, we might ask whether we may pray at least for the love shown by a couple for each other - a couple willing to defy the promiscuous norms of the world in a committed-for-life relationship.

But the answer to that kind of question should take into account the concern of Healing and Wholeness. What is the church's role in accompanying people towards eternal life, indeed as we begin to experience eternal life here and now? Is it a role which necessarily involves rites? Is there a danger that we are either inventing a new rite or transforming a traditional rite of marriage on the presumption that we properly understand rites? Is there not a prior question of what it means to be a disciple? Then questions arise about the life of the church: what are we doing that enlarges our life as a community of faith? What leads to convert-led growth? (Noting that if we do not ask that question we may be simply rearranging the ritual deck chairs on the Titanic with the proposal. It is not as though the parishes with the largest youth groups are the ones pressing hardest for the most change here). If any Kiwi Anglican thinks that the proposal will somehow turn our church's decline around in a secular society, then this viewpoint has news for you.

Obviously I am posing these matters in a way which introduces a circle of interrelated difficult questions and probing issues, with all the danger that it is a vicious circle yet also with all the hope that fronting up to these matters means we would find ourselves in a virtuous circle.

In the meantime we have a proposal on the table and a decision or three to make. And my very strong conviction is that GS wants to make a decision, even if some of the difficult questions and probing issues remain for future decision-making

Family and Freedom: a consideration to consider

Something which does not much figure in comments here on ADU is consideration of two aspects which, as I ruminate on what matters to me about the present situation, are very important. One aspect is "family" and the other is "freedom" and they are interrelated.


Many different experiences of being Anglican exist in our church and I understand that not all Anglicans feel, as I do, that our church is a large, extended family (whanau). But my experience of church as family - see, by the way, Ephesians 3:14-21 - with fathers and mothers in the faith, with brothers and sisters in Christ, means that I ask why we cannot be a family in our working out of the differences we have. A family that is determined both to remain intact as a family and to work out how we live with our differences. In short, like most families do!

Sometimes when I speak about the importance of church unity, apart from the argument that "truth is more important than unity", I receive back remarks along the lines of, "But, Peter, you are valuing institutional unity whereas the important unity in Christ is organic, the unity we have when we agree on essentials, a unity we Anglicans might have with, say, Presbyterians."

My response (apart from rejoicing, of course, in ecumenical unity of all institutional and organic kinds) is to say that if we understand church as family (rather than institution) then we won't pit "truth" versus "unity." Rather we will ask how we can eat together (as families do) with conversation which engages our differences (as families should do) rather than with conversation which avoids our differences (as, unfortunately, families often do, "to preserve the peace").

From this "family" perspective I see the proposal as generally - one or two things could be tidied up - enabling us to be a family which eats together and continues to talk about our differences.


The Anglican church has a remarkable history of tolerating diversity of viewpoint, even dissent from authority. There are very few strictures on preachers and we are reminded of this every time a preacher is headlined in the media as "not believing in God" or "denying the resurrection". Such occasions are not really the Anglican church's finest hour but they are a measure of considerable freedom.

We can also think, in terms of freedom, of being free to do things differently. Think, for instance, of the possibility that a Martian worshipping over successive parishes across a set of neighbouring parishes would encounter everything from heavily robed clergy to a nondescript vicar in jeans and open necked shirt; from a bare building with little or no Christian symbolism to a space dominated by statues and icons; from music with more trills than Mozart through to choruses played on a guitar; from speaking the Elizabethan cadences of the BCP through to speaking in tongues. All validly Anglican; all Anglicans and non-Anglicans welcome; no one turned away.

This is not the whole story of Anglican "freedom." We are not free to refuse to perform baptisms of infants of believers (cue various dissenting and Dissenting departures through our history since the Reformation). We (who hold a bishop's licence) are not free to disobey our bishops when they give us "lawful instruction". Indeed, we are not free to minister anywhere and everywhere without a bishop's licence - I cannot go to Auckland city next week and offer a eucharistic service in Cornwall Park ... unless I ask for and receive permission to do so from the Bishop of Auckland (and he would ask me to also seek permission from the local vicar). And laypersons not holding a bishop's licence and laypersons holding a bishop's licence (e.g. to preach, to lead a service of "extended communion") are not free to preside at the eucharist, not even in an emergency.

So, Anglican freedom is freedom with restrictions, and the freedom is a freedom to explore a wide theology and to experience a broad set of liturgical possibilities. This exploration and experience is with special regard for what enables us to be the "Church of England", that is, a church for all the people.

In that spirit of our church being a "large space" I support the proposal before General Synod because it offers the opportunity for those whose theological convictions are different to mine and to yours, who are motivated by intention to be part of a church for all the people, to exercise a ministry of prayer and support for those couples who determine before Christ that their love for each other is a godly, covenanted love.

And the proposal does so while also guarding the freedom of Anglicans such as myself who do not share a theological conviction that God blesses sexual relationships which are not marriage between a man and a woman.

Families only work for the well being of each member if there is some freedom to be different from other members of the family. If, as I argue here, ACANZP is a family then we may also ask what freedom exists in this family for differences in conviction and in practice.


Unknown said...

Hi Peter. Church as a family is definitely reflected in the bible. I am not convinced that a group of churches is depicted as a family in the bible. Thanks Steve

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
Much would depend on whether we allowed that a group of churches (a family of churches?!) was (in some partial, representative sense) the "people of God" or the "household of God". If so, then, arguably, a group of churches are also the "family of God."

Either way, I am thinking of church as a family as a possibly helpful use of imagery to enable us to think twice before embarking on "family break up"!

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Good to see that you are still thinking, and perhaps there is still time for further reflection.

Scripture tells us that Jesus came full of ‘grace and truth’. A gospel that predominantly emphasizes grace at the expense of truth will eventually lead to the kind of emotive, man centered narrative that that appears at the heart of SSB.

Alternatively, if we have a gospel that predominantly emphasizes truth at the expense of grace, we will end up with a form legalism that is just as ungodly.

We need the truth of Scripture to help us form a sound theological understanding of God’s will and purposes in relation to human sexual expression, and from that we need to derive a sound pastoral response so that we can minister with grace to those who believe their lives are adversely impacted. By that I mean facing celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. Again, this requirement is not unique to same sex attracted, and let’s not forget that those of us who are married are called to be chaste.

I’m unconvinced by your family narrative. Consider Jesus words in Matthew chapter 10:

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

This is a rather different picture to the one you paint, where the central theme is that we are all called to ‘rub along’ despite our differences, regardless of how important those differences may be.

That’s not to suggest for one moment that we shouldn’t talk with each other, or that we should easily give up on each other. However, the problem with the ‘conversations’ and the theological presentations we have had on the subject of SSB to date, is that they have all been packaged with the presupposition that the church must find a way for SSB to take place.

Where for example have we heard anything half as sensible as NT Wright in this 6 Minute Youtube clip:

For those of us who believe we are upholding the Biblical narrative, it’s easy to conclude that we have been de-platformed, in this ‘debate’.

Finally (for now) one of the worst things about Motion 29 apart from its complete lack of theological foundation, is the disservice it does to young people in our congregations who may be same sex attracted.

Are they called to be celibate for the sake of the Kingdom, or are they free to pursue a sexual relationship with a member of the same sex? Motion 29 says both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the same time.

Whose ‘narrative’ in the Church are they to believe, and on what basis?

It’s all very well saying we are giving room in our broad church for all views, but what theological and pastoral guidance are we giving these young people? Surely as the adults in the room, we must find a way to allow our ‘yes’ to mean ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ to mean ‘no’ before we profess to have found a way forward. Motion 29 falls well short of that benchmark.

Can you imagine any Christian parents saying both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ concerning extramarital sexual relationships to their children? What kind of family would you call that?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
That would be the same Jesus who prayed that his disciples would be one, who broke bread on the last night of his life with a bunch that included his betrayer and his denier and all the rest who would runaway from his execution.

We are a church in disagreement and that includes the fact that different teaching and instruction might be given from different pulpits. As far as I can tell that is already the case, even without the proposal being approved!

A strength of the proposal is that it will enable the same teaching from the same pulpits to proceed before and after General Synod.

That it will also enable some couples in the life of the church to have their relationships formally blessed could also be measured by whether it will contribute to the church offering a warmth in hospitality that, frankly, many GLBTQi people do not currently experience.

We are talking about a group of people in church and society who feel marginalised, misunderstood, mostly to the point of quietly not coming to church or, if in church, not making a peep for fear of what others would say to them.

The kind of comment you make here is strong on truth but do you think it helps a member of the GLBTQi community to feel there is any space for them within the Anglican church?

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

Yes, Jesus did pray that we be one, but we are not one.

Yes, I have emphasized truth in my response, albeit hopefully not at the expense of grace. Scriptural truth has been largely sidelined in the debate on SSB. I seek only to redress the imbalance.

Your question to me regarding the feelings of those who are same sex attracted regarding the Anglican church is an important one. Are you suggesting we completely overlook the sinful nature of their sexual relationships to make them feel more welcome? Where does that end? What about Bill’s adulterous relationship, or Sue’s promiscuity, or any of those sins that will prevent us from inheriting the Kingdom of God? (1 Cor 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21).

Of course the church welcomes and loves sinners, but does it still have a responsibility to identify sin by name, and to call sinners to repentance? It used to.

Article 7 of the 39 Articles reminds us that all the moral law of Moses remains applicable to Christians. Now if you want to have article 7 removed from Anglican doctrine, then by all means put up a case, but in the meantime, surely we are called to uphold the doctrines of the church in respect to sexual morality, in both word and practice, the feelings of the gay community not withstanding?

Unknown said...

Hi Peter Yes we are all part of the universal church. We seem to be more of an association of families based around our constitution and formularies. If we undermine those (and I think motion 29 does) then what holds the different families together?

Anonymous said...

Peter, you have understood my position.

My only footnote to your summary is that where you mention the *scriptures*, the reader should understand that believers read it (a) as an instrument in God's transforming love of all souls, and (b) with primary attention to the way the unifying narrative and canonical integrity bear witness to God. The Six Texts are not an exception.

Opinions about That Topic climb from mere judaizing toward Christian maturity as they better engage the interiority of law (Jesus in St Mark 7) and the soul's transition from death to life in a new creation (St Paul in Romans 5-8). Until one can describe, according to the scriptures, the transformation that God works in the soul of a gay disciple, one does not yet have a Christian position on homosexuality.

Father Ron emphasizes the gay disciple's recovery from habitual promiscuity. Nobody here has denied that the Holy Spirit wills to heal disciples whose wild desire runs to many partners, either serially or multiply. Nor has anyone here denied that the Church should support this healing. Nor has anyone here directly challenged his hypothesis that a adherence to a single chaste relationship is a notable victory along the way.

But I emphasize that, according to Jesus and St Paul, every disciple, gay or straight, recovers from participation in a world-principle of idolatrous desire that rebels against the Kingdom-- lust. Obviously, the Holy Spirit does not shut down the endocrinological systems of disciples; rather, as Dallas Willard puts it, he enables "routine, easy obedience to God's commands". But even this is better described as a growth of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. "... love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." This scriptural principle applies to every disciple, whether disoriented from procreation or not, and is part of the basis for pastoral care.


GlenYoung said...

Hi Peter,

Your whole blog centers our attention on the ELEPHANT in the room,-INSTITUTIONALIZED ANGLICANISM; in the form of the ACANZP.

How hypocritical: "no lay person is allowed to perform Eucharist,even in an emergency", but Bishops will be allowed to give permission for SSB, without fear of discipline; even when the Working Group admits that such blessing are unlawful under the Constitution 1857. Many a good lay person would have more "INTEGRITY" to perform Eucharist than such Bishops and Clergy.

Andrei said...

"How hypocritical: "no lay person is allowed to perform Eucharist,even in an emergency"...

Well Glenn in reality there is nothing to stop anyone "performing" the Eucharist (interesting choice of wording "perform", perhaps worth exploring another time)

Nothing at all to stop this happening (it happens with the Catholic Womenpriests for example) - the question would be who would see that celebration of the Eucharist as valid? And who would receive communion from that arbitary celebrant? And who would not?

And therein lies the problem with SSM/SSBs regardless of who performs or celebrates them?

For me there can be no such thing as a SSM because by definition
a marriage requires a man and a woman. And I am far from unique in this regard.

So regardless of who performs the ceremony it means no more than it would mean if I performed a ceremony to marry our cats to one another (not that they would cooperate in such a venture. They have more sense)

In the civil arena we were softened up with "Civil Unions" before the Government in its hubris inflicted Gay Marriage upon us unsophiticated serfs.

But then Governemental meddling has rendered marriage in the 21st century essentially meaningless, with no fault divorce and the extension of the Matrimonial property laws to cohabiting couples etc.

The institution of marriage was always a target of Marxists and they have just about wrecked it by stealth - look at our current Prime Minister, at the forefront of the charge to redine marriage in law and yet unmarried herself, which actually shows the value she places upon the institution she campaigned to further trash

So here's your answer, you wouldn't receive communion from a celebrant you didn't believe has the authority to celebrate the Eucharist and you wont accept a ritual mimicking marriage between two individuals of the same gender and you will withdraw yourself from the celebrant of such a rite. And perhaps from Anglicanism itself

We know if SSBs receive official sanction that in time

(a) they will morph into pseudo "Holy Matrimony"


(b) That candidates for ordination who hold strong views against this innovation will be considered unsuitable for ordination.

Result: the Anglican Church will be further fractured and diminished.

I think Peter knows this as well subconsciously but is desperately trying keep it buried

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; I suppose my only comments are that (1) mercy is a breathing space to help sinners comply with the truth not for unrepentant sinners to invent something new and (2) you shouldn’t rely too much on vocal random ordained Catholics raising issues like SSB. There are lots of big brains in our church and most of them are not clergy or papal.


Unknown said...

Hi Peter I just returned from an ecumenical ash Wednesday service with the local Catholic Church. What will motion 29 do to these relationships? The Methodist's have already gone down this road so they may be our only option for ecumenical relationships in the future. Steve

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
We are talking about whether the church might support two men or two women with the capacity to love each other in responsible, faithful, honourable ways.
Please don't compare such relationships to adultery: that does no credit to yourself and it continues to ramp up the sense of the church as a place of oppression for gays and lesbians.
Biology has served them up a tough enough deal re how society and the church view them as "different" and "other" without pouring that kind of condemnation-by-comparison on them.
I urge you to reflect carefully on whether your words actually add up to "grace".
All I see in them is "truth."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
The following might hold us together:
- our love for Jesus
- our commitment to a ministry of Word and Sacrament, ordered by episcopal authority and synodical governance
- our valuing the English heritage to the way we go about and experience the two aspects of Anglican life above
- our love for all people, neighbours and enemies, men and women, slave and free, Jew and Greek, gays and straights.
It is not that difficult is it, to think of ourselves as a large, untidy, and somewhat rambunctious family?
And I am only thinking of ACANZP Anglicans.
Imagine if we also thought of the Australian Anglican church as part of the family!?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
In the meantime, Christian gay couples are wondering whether there might be a spare prayer for them in a church here or there, and only where the pray-er has sought permission for that.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
My blog is centered on how Anglicans I know and love, have known and loved for many decades in some cases, might hold one more disagreement together rather than let this and only this, of all our many disagreements, drive us apart.
Am I the only person writing here who can actually claim to have friends across all parts of the theological spectrum?
If so, perhaps that is why I seem to be the only person writing here about the church as "family."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I think all I know that is worth knowing is known consciously!
Undoubtedly ACANZP has within it members who want to push from SSB to SSM.
But it also has me, and I think I am not alone, who are opposed to SSM.
Of course if SSB leads to opponents of SSM leaving then I do not rate the chances of holding the line in the future.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve (at 8.37 pm)
I have not picked up any sense from NZ Roman Catholics that approving the proposal would lead to a change re (e.g.) Ash Wednesday services.

Tonight at St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Manchester St, a person whose orders are officially null and void, preached; that same person, even if her orders in some way were recognised by the RCC, would not be able to minister in the RCC as priest or bishop, being a woman, yet, praise God, such things are no impediments to non-eucharistic shared worship.

SSB might be a bridge too far - it is not for me to second guess what the RCC would decide.

But here's the thing, if you read the articles/columns at the following links, including reference to statements by two NZ Catholic bishops, you will find a sympathy, a care and a concern for homosexuals, as well as (as I see it) an openness to the possibility that science may yet teach the church a thing or two which, frankly, is difficult to find in many comments on this site from loyal Anglicans!

So, reading these kinds of of examples of Catholic thinking, even among bishops, I would be mightily surprised if the proposal led to some kind of inhibition of current Anglican-Catholic relationships.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
Yes, that is mercy; but is there not also a mercy space in which we allow that not all of us may think alike? To say nothing of a mercy space which allows that people may not be doing the right thing but nothing will be said about that? (It has been observed here that Humanae Vitae seems more observed in the breach these days ... but I don't think the first thing on parish priests minds when preparing sermons is to denounce immoral contraception from the lectern!)

Yes, the odd Cardinal pronouncing here and there may not be either here or there. Unless said Cardinal becomes the next Pope :)

I do not suppose that the RCC will anytime soon agree to SSB. But clearly some thinking along "interesting" lines is going on here in NZ ... see the links in my comment to Steve just above (though I imagine you are already aware of the general content of the three articles/columns.)

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

"Justice:Canon and Liturgy.The Church is called to equitable outcomes"
Equitable opportunities is a wonderful goal; Equitable outcomes is as Marxist dystopia. Every sinner has equal opportunity to join the ACANZP. However, the proponents of SSB do not wish to join the ACANZP as sinners,but as an equal INTEQUITY of thje Church.

Unknown said...

Peter since when has agreeing to SSB been a litmus test for care and compassion for those who are SSA? Yes we need to care for people with thoughtfulness, kindness, understanding and love like Jesus would have shown. But agreeing to SSB does not make that a given. Also where does the tranformational power of the Gospel fit in to this conversation regardless of what the science may say now or in the future?
You are better than that Peter. God bless steve

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, you write here of 'Christian Anthropology' - a matter which concerns us all. However, what you have not mentioned is the fact that our human view of anthropology is subject to change - whether Christian or secular. The fact is that, in accordance with the statement of Jesus - in his discourse on human relationships in marriage - "there are eunuchs from their mother's womb" (Matthew 19:12) - of whom I am one and I know what both Jesus and I are speaking about. Such 'eunuchs' can number among them people who are same-sex attracted - with no capability of being any other.These are the people, creations of God, about whom Motion 29 is speaking.

Neither the writers of the O.T. nor of the N.T. had any idea of this fixity in sexual orientation that is different from 'the norm', so why would they include it in their spiritual writings?. Remember they were Hebraic, not Greco-Romans

Other areas of moral code have, similarly, become modified, inter-Testamentally as well as in modern times - mainly because of the improved knowledge and understanding of human beings about our common human nature - which has been proved to be variable from person to person - each with their own i8ndividual characteristics - but created by the same God and Father of OLJC.

In the present day context. one cannot help but wonder what the Church is doing about the encouragement of faithful sexual relationships - whether homosexual or heterosexual. It seems well able to cope with the case of heterosexual failure by the provision of divorce and remarriage, but doing nothing to promote monogamous relationship beetween homosexuals who have no other way of fulfilling their God-given gift of intimate relationship with another person.

Just because some homosexuals, like myself, actually do manage to live in a heterosexual married relationship (but remain chaste) This does not mean that all gay people are able (or blessed, as I am) to sustain such a relationship.

Saint Paul, himself did say "it is better to marry than burn". Perhaps, if he were livng in today's world, with the biological and sociological understandings now available, he might apply that logic to gays as well as straights.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter, Your response to Brendan shows your emotive and subjective bias towards the gay community over and above your commitment to One,Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Glen Young said...

Hi Ron,

Jesus could have said:"When I made them in the beginning "

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve and Glen

Steve: Commitment to SSB is not a litmus test (in my mind - I imagine it is in some minds) of whether we care of SSA people.
Indeed the Roman Catholic links I cited above are a good reminder of how one can remain committed to not-SSB while showing care, sympathy and openness to further understanding.
If I have given a contrary impression then I have written poorly.
But what I do not resile from - noting your comment at 9.51 pm Glen - is trying - obviously very poorly - to encourage commenters here to better enter into the experience of SSA people.

For instance, on the question of care and welcome in the church: what helps SSA people to feel loved? Is it what we think helps them or is it what they think would help? In a majority straight society and church, a minority group are not necessarily helped by the majority group determining what constitutes care for the minority group!

In particular, I am trying to raise the question in your minds - however badly I may be doing that - whether a church which is "against" SSB is going to seem friendly to SSA people. Might a church which is open to SSB seem more open to SSA people? (I am not asking you to answer that question per se but I am asking us all, including myself, whether we understand SSA people well?)

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Well, there is truth and there are lies.

There appears to be an idea circulating in the Anglican church, that God is no so much concerned about the ‘nature’ of the sexual relationship between two couples but rather the ‘quality’ of that relationship.

By this I mean it’s not the nature of the relationship that sanctifies it and makes it holy and acceptable before God, i.e. heterosexual vs homosexual as we have historically believed, but rather the quality of that relationship, i.e. Loving vs transactional, monogamous vs serial, long term vs short term.

Do you know the origin of this mythology, or do you have some evidence that it is supported by Scripture? Possibly?

As to your concern about making people who are same sex attracted feel welcome at Church, I put it to you that there is a world of difference between being welcomed and being affirmed. I suspect that when you say ‘welcome’ you really mean ‘affirmed’. We must welcome everyone, but I don’t believe that God expects us to affirm anyone in their sin. The ‘truthy’ part of me is very open to correction here.

I trust this clarification will prevent us from talking past each other on the topic of ‘welcome’ which I appreciate is of deep concern to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter;

Yes, that is mercy; but is there not also a mercy space in which we allow that not all of us may think alike? Peter.

Possibly, but the key is what God thinks. Who cares what you and I think? Nick.

To say nothing of a mercy space which allows that people may not be doing the right thing but nothing will be said about that? (It has been observed here that Humanae Vitae seems more observed in the breach these days ... but I don't think the first thing on parish priests minds when preparing sermons is to denounce immoral contraception from the lectern!) Peter.

True, but Catholics have to face confession. If we do not confess, we believe there are some highly negative consequences. Nick.

But clearly some thinking along "interesting" lines is going on here in NZ ... see the links in my comment to Steve just above (though I imagine you are already aware of the general content of the three articles/columns.) Peter.

Yes and good. Some Bishops have a reputation of being liberal, but in reality NZ Bishops have a broad “all time” perspective and promote the Catholic faith. My local bishop publically supports communion for the remarried. I have not heard him preach a single unorthodox sermon. I am glad that he brings debate and his motivation will always bring listeners including me. He walks the walk and that does make a difference.


Anonymous said...

Peter, I have never met anyone who would agree to eat just a little bit of arsenic, nor a conservative who could agree to just a little more chaos. Framing the argument for SSB as just a little more confusion in a church that some already find too flaky to be reliable just confirms their resistance to SSB. Why not try a different sort of argument?


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
With overnight thought I realise your challenge in your most recent comment may have been misunderstood by me. Probably you are responding to this:
"The following might hold us together:
- our love for Jesus
- our commitment to a ministry of Word and Sacrament, ordered by episcopal authority and synodical governance
- our valuing the English heritage to the way we go about and experience the two aspects of Anglican life above
- our love for all people, neighbours and enemies, men and women, slave and free, Jew and Greek, gays and straights.
It is not that difficult is it, to think of ourselves as a large, untidy, and somewhat rambunctious family?
And I am only thinking of ACANZP Anglicans.
Imagine if we also thought of the Australian Anglican church as part of the family!?"

If so, I am definitely thinking of our shared love and commitment for all people, Anglicans and potential Anglicans, whether or not we agree with SSB. We all claim that love and we all intend to show that love though we differ on how that love might be demonstrated. Can we continue as a family with a shared love and differing applications?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Excellent point and I can see how my framing of things provokes the point.
However I am not persuaded that a tightly scripted framework for permission for SSB adds to "chaos" in our church.
Nor, given that we already have differing views on these matters in our vicarages, pulpits and youth worker offices, do I see either how the proposal adds to the "chaos" of that OR HOW REFUSING THE PROPOSAL lessens that "chaos."
In fact, I think refusal could add to the "chaos" because I think we will have priests proceeding to SSB, with media cameras trailing, and bishops extremely loath to take disciplinary action.
And if parishes separate, well ... who knows how chaotic that will be, especially if there are legal battles over property.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I think our Catholic bishops demonstrate a remarkable ability to support the faith, graciously challenge the Vatican from time to time, and, crucially, to read the mood of the parishioners!

I met Bishop-elect Paul Martin last night. I am sure he will be a great Bishop of Christchurch!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I agree that there is a difference between "welcome" and "affirmation" and generally parishes (clergy and laity) are making that distinction frequently. Not everyone is affirmed as having the capacity to lead the singing!

I think you are right to raise questions about "quality" of relationship and whether a kind of easy slide in thinking is shifting from what could be called (and is, in Roman theology) objective state of relationships to quality of relationships so (to take a heterosexual example) someone might justify an affair on the basis that love has grown cold in a marriage so a spouse feels okay about an affair with another because "we love each other."

As I understand the counter arguments they amount to two significant lines of argument.

(1) If as a church we cannot provide for an objective relationship state through marriage, as ACANZP cannot, we might then choose, as some individual priests and parishes are choosing to do, to measure a relationship in a qualitative way: what manner of love exists between Bill and Bob, between Jenny and Jill? Is it a commitment to a permanent life together? Is it a commitment to faithful, stable, enduring love? Is it, in short, a commitment to a relationship which is qualitatively like marriage? If, consequently such a relationship is affirmed by priest and parish, then, yes, a quality of relationship test has been made. Would you agree that it is a very high standard of "quality" which is applied?

(2) It is precisely because marriage in Christian theology has been about an objective state of human life together rather than a subjective state of quality of relationship that some in our church are proposing that we should offer marriage, without distinction re gender or sex, because this is the simplest way to provide for people choosing to love each other and to forsake all others, that is, to remove themselves from the way of the world with its easy acceptance of casual and promiscuous sexuality. While I do not agree that marriage can be theologically redefined in this way, I do understand the motivation to seek such redefinition.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Thanks for taking the time to engage on ‘qualitative’ vs ‘objective state’ in a relationship and to explain the school of thought emerging in the Anglican church in some parishes, and presumably amongst some Bishops.

Perhaps the best way to deconstruct this argument (absent Scripture) is to frame the quality question the other way. If married couple Bill and Jenny have spent years together, but are now bored with each other and the quality of their long term monogamous marriage has been reduced to zero, are they free to exit the marriage and to re-marry?

If quality now trumps objective state for determining the blessedness of a relationship before God, on what basis would you say ‘no’ to Bill and Jenny? Presumably the same deal would apply to those in SSB relationships – no quality, no blessedness, no compulsion to remain?

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

[a] "......To exercise a ministry of prayer and support for those couples who determine before Christ that their love for each other is a godly,covenanted love". [b] "And the proposal does so while also guarding the freedom of Anglicans such as myself who do not share a theological conviction that God blesses sexual relationships which are not marriage between a man and a woman." Peter

Peter,I completely fail to see the corollary between your two statements.Are you suggesting, that [a] type relationships are completely platonic?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I am not aware of any move being made in our church to adjust the objective state of marriage into a qualitative state (save for the discretion we grant ministers re working out whether to conduct a remarriage of a divorcee, noting that we have no objective measure of repentance for past wrongdoing). Are you aware of such a move?

What the proposal concerns is providing a way forward for those who believe the church could provide an objective state for a marriage-like relationship between two people of the same sex? That the way forward might not quite reach an objective state, though it goes close to it, generates questions from both conservatives and progressives. But, in principle, isn't a move towards an objective state better than no move at all (if we accept that same sex couples are nevertheless going to continue to be a feature of our church's life, including some couples who legally are in the objective state of civil marriage)?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
I assume that couples seeking blessing under [a] are in a sexual-and-loving relationship; and I am assuming that under [b] not all priests wish to offer that blessing.

My wording deliberately focuses on the whole of the relationship concerned, for which sex is a part and not the whole thing; and my wording acknowledges that same sex couples testify to the capacity to offer love to one another which goes beyond sex, not least through the whole of a long life, including caring for the other as the journey towards death takes place at the end of life.

The general point of the proposal, Glen, is that not all Anglicans see such a same sex relationship as wicked and those Anglicans who neither see it as wicked nor as condemned by God (for where love is, there is God), are asking whether the church might find a way for permission to be given, at least to a few priests, for such blessing to take place.

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Peter for the results of your “thinking”. While I understand why you assemble these thoughts under the categories you do, given the broad kinds of approach commentators are trying to address (although they are your own categories), what eventuates IMHO is directly applicable to NTW’s video Brendan has linked. How so?

For example, I’ll mention Alasdair MacIntyre below more fully (and I’ve had to raise his work before on ADU). Relevant at this point is the book entitled Whose Justice? Which Rationality? For Bosco, and yourself after him, try to evaluate That Topic via the lens of “justice”. Fair enough; I get why this approach is often pursued. YET, overall, it in fact does little credit to the First Fruits of God’s New Creation (my category for the Church; see below) to try to juggle its various “accommodations” in the way it seems to be trying. Sure; such adjectives as “pastoral” are then attached to these “accommodations”. However, bottom line, they are mostly predicated upon fragmentary and fractured theology. In our case in ACANZ&P, virtually no theology at all. Enough general reaction ...

Brendan; two things, which lead to one thing.

1. Thank you for that NTW clip; very helpful. Yes; it is all most complex and glib slogans have proven pretty unhelpful, as they aggravate our continuing to talk past each other, failing to grapple with what exactly it is that is at odds.

2. “Motion 29 says both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the same time. Whose ‘narrative’ in the Church are they to believe, and on what basis?”

Again; NTW rightly wishes to talk about “debate” and about the role of “reason”. With this in mind, re the role of PC’s “liturgy” (in his post), I’d simply repeat this from our Eucharist Service, p.404:

“Grace and peace to you from God.
God fill you with truth and joy.

Joy is an essential response to the Gospel: so Luke-Acts. 1 Cor 13:6 combines both this joy/rejoicing and the truth. This opening feature to our liturgy is profound. And BTW; 1 Cor 13 is about LOVE ...

Yet, my question is as is Brendan’s: our local church, via this WG proposal, simply no longer knows what the truth is (when it comes to human sexuality; and quite possibly beyond that too, given our ‘theological’ lethargy). We literally want a bob each way: both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. In fact, the brief of the WG from GS - to eschew the theological debate - is but to be passed a poison chalice at this point. At least, as far as the Church is concerned, it’s a poison chalice. The World may wish to wallow in contemporary moral relativism; but the First Fruits of God’s New Creation cannot enjoy such a ‘luxury’. And here I am echoing deliberately Richard Hays’ Moral Vision linked by BW on that other thread. For this text from James’ Letter addresses the nature of the Church more robustly than Peter’s attempted use of “family”. True; the Church IS the Household of God. YET the Biblical “family/people of God” is specifically addressed by God (as ER does in Church) as being both under judgment and grace, for together they express the true mercy of God towards humanity, in microcosm through Israel/Church. And Hays’ ‘grid’ of Community, Cross, and New Creation similarly attempts to coordinate such themes (which, frankly, PC avoids).

Bryden Black said...

I’ve cited Alasdair MacIntyre “disquieting suggestion” in his book After Virtue on ADU before. Even if one still wishes to discredit his work (and strangely some do), whatever one’s own particular position on our current sexual ‘debates’, the language of these ‘debates’ is evidently so corrupted and confused by ‘something’ upstream of our current era that we still pass each other by, speaking different ‘languages’ while seemingly parroting similar or the same words. I.e. Back to NTW’s clip. And back also therefore to my Basic Question #1: How did we finish up here, historically, with the Church caught in this self-conflicting double-bunger of a bind? Until we’ve got anything like a handle on THAT question, it’s little wonder there’s no progress forward. And unfortunately, PC’s “thoughts” merely repeat the problem, as they do not dig nearly deeply enough into diagnosing the roots of the problem. Notably, why we are seemingly ‘content’ to proffer both ‘yes’ and ‘no’, a form of Orwellian double-speak.

And so on to our pastoral voices and/or approaches overall. What counsel might we offer anyone when the house that offers it is divided against itself to the point that it may not stand (Mk 3:25)? Yet I too have to endorse BW @ February 14, 2018 at 5:05 PM. On the money - with the qualification about the end of the Holy Spirit’s fruitful work: for example, I know of a young Down’s Syndrom person whose very genetic make-up was recreated! True; a sign only of greater things to come - BUT we need too such signs!!

These are my own ruminations. And they pertain to any and all on any ‘side’ of this particular issue. Tragically, our ‘solution’ to date is irrational, and properly absurd.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

First, your response side steps the question I have posed. If the quality of the relationship is the sole basis for God’s blessing, on what basis would you argue the relationship should be maintained should the quality dissipate?

It’s all very well to propose a way into a relationship that is ‘in the form of marriage’ but as 50% of marriages end in divorce, what do you propose is God’s way out of these relationships? It appears to me that the proponents of SSB have given no thought to this likely outcome whatsoever.

Motion 29 has all the hallmarks of an ill-considered attempt to push SSB into the life of the church ‘at any cost’ and absent any Scriptural, historical or theological justification, either for the formation of these relationships or their eventual dissolution.

In all seriousness, how can God’s approval and blessing be attributed to an ill-conceived proposition like this?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
I may (or may not) be avoiding this or that; and I may or may not be digging deep enough; but I suggest your own thoughts are not facing some simple mathematics about this church of ours! A maths which I am trying to face .. apparently alone :)

I will put it this way. Imagine we were a church with 90% commitment to a traditional, orthodox approach to sexuality and marriage, and with a 10% somewhat noisy minority, making an impact with various arguments which were beginning to lure people towards the minority point of view. In such a hypothetical situation, I suggest everything you say in your two comments above (and elsewhere) would be helpful, necessary and faithful guidance. I would expect the 90% to fall into line and to graciously inform the 10% that their arguments were boldly and bravely put but had no future in a church largely united around the status quo.

My presumption is that we are not that church. The maths is in the range 60-40% (or 40-60%). My evidence for that presumption is partly how some votes have gone in the Christchurch Diocese in recent years; partly the fact that Tikanga Maori have signalled their willingness to change, Tikanga Pasefika have signalled their willingness not oppose change and their bivocal challenge to Pakeha to sort out our differences. And those differences, on a Diocesan basis seem to be roughly 4.5 to 2.5! Finally, my evidence is that two previous GS have wanted change but offered the opportunity of further work to avoid change dividing us schismatically and thus we have before is a proposal which will not overcome our divisions but might avoid schism. Or not.

In this situation, indeed a "yes and no" situation, indeed one that can be characterised as "irrational and absurd" (and both progressives and conservatives might say AMEN to that, together!!), the invitation is to us to work out how we might live with the proposal, live with one another, and find some degree of rationality and sense in what we are doing, ASSUMING we wish, in some way or another, to stay together.

Accordingly, I remain committed to my offer that thinking of ourselves as family and reflecting on what freedom might mean, could be a way of thought towards living with the proposal, unsatisfactory though it is from various Wrightian, McIntyrian, and Blackian perspectives!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I did not mean to sidestep anything!
Some SSB presumably will be couples who have a civil marriage and I imagine the proposal (which, as far as I recall, says nothing specific about endings of blessed relationships) implies that the end of a civil marriage would be the end of a blessed relationship (cf. men-women marriages).
The final report, however, does not presuppose an SSB couple have been civilly married and thus it is a question how the end of a relationship would be recognised in a formal sense.
However, isn't that an invidious task for such a report to address? The point of proposing that SSB be permitted is that SSB is for "for life" relationships. To build in discussion of how we would recognise the end of such relationships (save for death doing the parting) is to raise a doubt from the outset re intention.
My suggestion is that we tackle the question of ending of SSB relationships when we find them ending. They might not. They might have a 100% record of success and challenge men-women couples to do better than 50%!

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

If one accepts that couples seeking a blessing under [a] are in sexual relationships; then is not supporting the proposal, supporting forms of sexuality outside of marriage as being blessable. How can I then claim that I fully stand for marriage between man and woman?

Peter Carrell said...

[Whoops, my initial posting of the comment below missed out a crucial negative ...]

Hi Glen
As far as I can tell, from clergy I talk to who are willing to perform an SSB, they stand for marriage between a man and a woman. They so value marriage between a man and a woman they want a similar opportunity to be available for those who cannot marry a member of the opposite sex. In their minds there is no devaluing of marriage; rather there is an extension of the value of marriage.

Bryden Black said...

Dear Peter,

Your answer @ February 15, 2018 at 12:31 PM continues to betray our basic dilemma. All you’ve done is to seek refuge in our current synodical culture - which, following the likes of Kenneth Locke’s analysis (and my own analysis of that approach), is no place of comfort at all. It simply fails to address anything like the MacIntyre diagnosis of how we’ve reached our current crisis. It fails to expose the great weaknesses now clearly evident in the actual practices of Anglican forms of authority - some of which I tabled in my own responses to the Interim Report. And while we/you continue to avoid the really hard task of “debate”, theological debate and cultural exposé, that is, we shall continue to drift away from what might very well be the sheer authority of God’s Word to His People. For only under that authority will any of us find true Gospel liberty through Jesus Christ, Messiah of Israel and first fruits of the New Creation in Person.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

In your response to me [Feb 15 @ 12.05 PM],you remark:".......,Glen,is that not all Anglicans see such a SSR. as wicked and those Anglicans who neither see it as wicked or condemned by God....".

I take offence at the implication that I have ever stated that such relationships are "wicked or condemned by God" It is you that has introduced those emotive words into the discourse.

I have repeatedly stated,and I stand by my beliefs,to the point of leaving the ACANZP; that:
[1] Human sexuality can not be torn asunder from Holy Matrimony within the legitimate ACANZP Doctrine.
[2] Human sexuality, outside of Holy Matrimony, can not be blessed by the ACANZP Constitutionally.
[3] That the proposal put forward by the Working Party is unlawful and breeches the Constitution 1857.

Peter, in taking the stance you do, you are hiding under the skirts of a "lady that does not exist". The authority of G.S., to add to the Canons, to put the proposal into effect does not exist. I will add to later; but in the meantime,I do not need to resort to emotive words to make my point.

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Peter for offering to Glen your answer @ February 15, 2018 at 1:17 PM. For it illustrates very well the basic dilemma - the properly basic dilemma - of the debate we are all currently having; that is therefore, of the non-debate that is actually occurring, since in fact it illustrates perfectly the sort of double-speak we are engaging in, and so the moral confusion MacIntyre describes via the corruption of our basic discourse. How so?

Let’s parse that reply carefully. You/they say they “so value” marriage, and therefore that they wish to “extend” it. Well; the issue is this: if marriage is indeed that estate between a man and a woman, then by definition any extension is either null and void or a corruption of that estate. Sure; it may be that we are to redefine ‘marriage’. In which case, the proponents of the redefinition have won and the older definition is lost. BUT we may not have BOTH at once ... Either our ‘yes’ is yes or our ‘no’ is no; not BOTH at once.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
I apologise for the words which have an implication re something you have not said - you have - indeed - focused on the constitutional issue.
However what I actually wrote was not necessarily directed at you personally because it was an attempt to explain how some Anglicans can make the move they are making to request permission for SSB. That is, in contrast to those who, say would cite 1 Cor 6:9-10, as reason not to proceed to so permit (because 1 Cor 6:9-10 implies the eternal damnation of active homosexuals, in a list of wicked behaviours), some Anglicans in our church do not think a stable etc SS partnership is wicked.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
I cannot respond to your comments right now but will attempt to do so when time permits ... but that may not be for a day or two ... meetings, travel, meetings ...

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

I am not asking whether such relationships are wicked or condemned by God; but that simply,does the ACANZP with Her 1857 Constitution; fit your spiritual beliefs. If not, move on and find a Church whose views do or form another Church of your liking. The Clergy of the ACANZP are no different from any other worker; if you don't like the boss or what the company stands for,move on.

Anonymous said...

"All you’ve done is to seek refuge in our current synodical culture...," says Bryden to Peter. Yes, and in C21 postmodern societies, local synods do not have the raw social power to reify their ideals by fiat as a material *state of life*. This is true whether their ideals happen to be good or bad.

The danger to souls is not that a synod will repeal the law of gravity so that our planet rushes ahead of us through space, leaving us in its wake; it is that people professionally obliged to believe whatever synods say will rediscover the created order as they leap off tall building flapping their arms. I would not like to see anyone perish, of course, but it would be ironic and tragic if those with SSA were the most fooled.

Honest discussion must have room for consideration of whether the proposed vision can be realised at all, and if so, whether it will have the observable effects desired.


Father Ron said...

BW, I'm afraid I find your comments increasingly otiose and quite disturbing

Father Ron said...

" The Clergy of the ACANZP are no different from any other worker; if you don't like the boss or what the company stands for,move on." - Glen Young.

I thought you'd already taken your own advice and moved on. Obviously not.

You really are muddying the waters, here, Glen. It is NOT helpful to rational discussion.

Bryden Black said...

PC; every blessing upon thy travels and synagogues

Anonymous said...

Peter; Father Ron shared a personal matter that raises an important point. I have no interest in trespassing on the personal lives of others; particularly when I sign “anon”. We could however consider what Father Ron says in a non-personal general sense. Father Ron said (deletions mine):

“Just because some homosexuals ... actually do manage to live in a heterosexual married relationship (but remain chaste) This does not mean that all gay people are able (or blessed...) to sustain such a relationship.

In the endless circles of this debate, Father Ron makes a point that I, at least, had not considered. Peter; this might just support your point (and your Bishop’s) that we need to “do” the theology.


Glen Young said...

Hi Ron,

There is nothing rational about the way G.S. has dealt with this issue.My stance has been vindicated by the fact that no one has been able to find a legal manner in which to circumvent the Constitution 1857. If you know of one,why don't you put it forward. I stick with the issue because a public Institution, which has gained millions of dollars of assets and money, is playing fast and loose with it's legal Constitution.Shall I mention $35 million of tax payers money.

The best that GS. has been able to offer the proponents of SSB., is a back door blessing, which everybody knows should not occur but we won't discipline the Bishops. A little bit short of the magnificent entrance of the bride to tune of "Here comes the bride."

Anonymous said...

Father Ron, I like your comments more and more. But they tend to support civil SSM rather than church SSB.


Andrei said...

'A little bit short of the magnificent entrance of the bride to tune of "Here comes the bride."'

That is paganism in anycase Glenn - Richard Wagner wrote it

Became popular when it was used for Queen Victoria's daughters wedding sometime in the 1850s, Queen Victoria was German of course, that TV show about her should have had her speaking German to her mother, governess and Albert because it was her mother tongue though she was bilingual in English

You would never hear it at an Orthodox Wedding, nor a Jewish one and probably not a Catholic one either though I'm not so sure about that.

It's a hollywood cliche

But then again some of the comments on this thread have taken a Mills and Boon view of marriage and extended it to same sex couples.

The problem with this age we devalue both masculinity and feminity which is both unbelievably ugly and a great loss to all.

Anonymous said...

A graph on Peter's interesting OP.

Take a sheet of paper and a drawing point.

Draw a box. The interior includes all Anglicans.

Draw a straight line from side to side through the centre of the box.

Label one side of the line "A. Objective." Here are all those who trust divine authority outside of the self.

Label the other side "B. Personal." Here are all those who trust divine authority in and through the self.

Draw an oval divided by the line and label this Oval C "Healing and Wholeness." Here are all those who trust divine authority both outslde and inside the self.

In Oval C, draw light x-marks on Side A for Theological Anthropology (Bryden) and on the line for Healing and Wholeness (Bowman); leave side B entirely empty.

Draw an oval on Side A and label this Oval A "State of Life-Bible."

In Oval A, draw light x-marks for Theological Anthropology (Bryden) and Unchangeable Revelation (Andrei, Glen).

Draw an oval on Side B and label this Oval B "Relationships-Intuition."

In Oval B, draw a circle for Justice (Bosco) and a light x-mark for Pastoral Care (Ron).

Draw an Oval D that encloses the two light x-marks for Theological Anthropology (Bryden).

The draftsman will note that each enclosure is a subset of all Anglicans. By implication, those identified with an x-mark belong to every subset that encloses it, and do not belong to any subset that does not.

For salient example, Pastoral Care (Ron) makes sense to those and only those who agree with Justice (Bosco). And Justice (Bosco) makes sense to those and only those who both define marriage as a Relationship and also recognise divine authority by Intuition. None of this makes sense to those identified with x-marks either on the line or else on Side A of it.

So one can use the graph to predict the sorts of arguments that will fail to persuade a given Anglican. For instance, we know that those who believe in Unchangeable Revelation (Andrei, Glen) do not believe in Pastoral Care (Ron). The graph further shows that they cannot agree to arguments with premises precluded by their belief in Objective order, which is to say everything on Side B. In practice, appealing to their sense of Justice (Bosco) or Pastoral Care (Ron) will be unsuccessful.


Father Ron said...

"They so value marriage between a man and a woman they want a similar opportunity to be available for those who cannot marry a member of the opposite sex. In their minds there is no devaluing of marriage; rather there is an extension of the value of marriage." - Dr Peter Carrell -

Thank you, Peter, for this explanation of what many of us have been hoping for in the current controversy - that heterosexual marriage is the biblical norm, but that Same-Sex relationships are also important for homosexuals who have no other way of expressing an intimate relationship of fidelity.

There are various situations in which the propagation of children is not the primary 'end' of marriage. Mine, for instance, where sexual activity is not involved - so, proving that not ALL heterosexual marriages are either intended for procreation - a theme so very much accentuated by those who claim that the primary purpose of marriage IS to procreate.

What needs to be taken into account is the Prayer Book emphasis on OTHER aspects of the marital relationship - one of which is "the mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have of the other"

After the primary principle of procreation, contained in the First "cause for which marriage was ordained" (a possibility not open to all marriages - there is stated in the B.C.P. :-

"Secondly; it was ordained for a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication (promiscuity); that such persons as have NOT the gift of continency might marry and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body" -

(I believe that this 'cause' could be a legitimate reason for allowing same-sex attracted people to enter into a type of relationship similar to heterosexual marriage - in order to escape the sin of promiscuity.)

"Thirdly; it was ordained for the mutual society, help and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity".

The foregoing, Bowman, I submit, might partly answer your question about whether I equate SSB with SSM. Without equivocation, I can say that I am not against S/S Civil Marriage - which may become the best alternative for citizens, for whom the Church refuses to conduct a Same-Sex Blessing. If the Church decides not to Bless Same-Sex relationship in ACANZP, then, frankly, I see no alternative for Christians who want their S/S relationship to be publicly recognised - than to opt for Civil Marriage.

I do believe that, if the Church had accepted the possibility of offering a Blessing on Same-Sex relationships in the first place - the issue of SSM for Christians may not have arisen. That ship, unfortunately, has now sailed. The Church is now left with doing the very best it can for a significant minority of its members who want to live in a mongamous relationship that is publicly recpgnised - such as in Civil Marriage.

I do not want to enter into further correspondence with anyone who keeps harking back to our Church's original legal constitution. Civil Laws are subject to revision - no less those of the Church pertaining to its state relationship. (n.b. There are even those in the C.of E. who want the Church to sever itself from Church control - a principle that could make things easier for both parties in the current controversy).

Anonymous said...


Bryden Black said...

My dear Bowman; you have excelled yourself, as an Honourary Member of the Clapham Set (sic)!

All the same; please draw up your completed Box, with sets of ovals and lines and labels and x marks therein; scan it; and email the PDF direct to Peter, our Host; who may thereafter post it as a separate summary thread of its own.

Your defeated brother-in-Christ, who nonetheless played with sets and all at school, when they were devising a new maths curriculum and were experimenting with it upon us lot!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters
Having (unexpectedly) started something of a hornet's nest of comments, I am currently unable to engage further for the time being. A series of meetings and events and lack of certainty when I can write responses your comments deserve. Perhaps Sunday evening ... perhaps mid next week; meanwhile I can post comments from my cellphone :)

Andrei said...

Oh dear Bowman, that little cartoon imparting its trite wisdom, even if you fully accept its premise, does not inexorably lead us to redefine marriage, though it does help to soften our ability for critical thought by appeals to emotion and our natural inclinations as Christians to be polite and kind to everyone

But we all to some extent adapt "who we are" or more correctly the way we present ourselves as circumstances dictate

This will manifest itself in the clothes we wear which are different when attending a funeral from those approipriate to a beach barbeque

This also comes into play if you are polyglot, when it is appropriate to use your mother tongue, when it is not and when it would be downright foolish (i.e when attempting to communicate in a forum where noone present speaks it)

All of us make compromises all the time to get along and to make things go smoothly

Peter of course is seeking a compromise within New Zealand Anglicanism over this fraught issue.

But compromises require goodwill from both sides and as the secualar world has already shown the only compromise that will be acccepted by the agents for change on this matter is unconditional surrender

Peter makes the argument about making the "LGBTQI... community" feel welcome in church for example, as if redefining marriage is the key to this. It isn't

It is all in the power of the narrative Bowman

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bryden! I was driven to draw pictures when I kept seeing the same arguments fail and fail and fail on ADU without their earnest proponents seeing why some individuals can agree with them and others cannot. Or conversely, where rare moments of relative agreement can be more broadly applied and where this is probably impossible. The most contentious arguments made here basically demand that eg Bosco become eg Andrei, or vice versa, because they take no account of their temperamental differences. The true reception of the Bible is not only its fit with any particular human temperament, but also the challenge that the Holy Spirit's use of it makes to that-- and every-- temperament.

"Peter makes the argument about making the "LGBTQI... community" feel welcome in church for example, as if redefining marriage is the key to this. It isn't."

Andrei, thank you for your thoughts on my 2:26. Given that SSB or SSM in church are not the key, what in your view is? In conversations elsewhere online, I have found some agreement from some of those affected that it is not a parish's *virtue signaling* on marriage that matters most to them but rather freedom from an ethos in which heteronormality is almost the only norm there is. A parish that married a gay couple every week, but still could not accept some degree of eccentricity and had no life beyond childrearing would not be spiritually helpful. What seems to matter most is not matters most to zealous campaigners. But perhaps it is different on the blessed isles.


Andrei said...

Given that SSB or SSM in church are not the key, what in your view is?

That is actually quite simple Bowman

You treat people with respect as individuals and not part of some hypothetical "community" !!!

When you interact with someone you don't see a Maori, Gay, Hispanic, Russian, African American, Lesbian, Bantu, Dwarf &c. - you see a fellow Christian who like yourself is struggling through life in the hope of eternal salvation

And you don't look for the faults in others, you look for the faults in yourself and try to correct them.

I read the other day that the Diocese of Washington DC is moving to "gender neutral" language in church.

What is that going to acheive? Other than alienating people who value their Episcopalian heritage?

Andrei said...

" I have found some agreement from some of those affected that it is not a parish's *virtue signaling* on marriage that matters most to them but rather freedom from an ethos in which heteronormality is almost the only norm there is"

The word used is "Hetronormative" but guess what Brydon that is what is normal - the vast majority of people are hetrosexual, just as the vast majority of people in New Zealand speak English and if your mother tongue isn't English you still use it and make also other concessions to the culture in which you live.

I do not ask for or expect New Zealand to shut down on April 6th this year for Orthodox Good Friday but am quite happy for it to shut down on April the 1st for Western Good Friday - in fact celebrate the fact it does!

Does that make sense to you?

Jonathan said...

Andrei, I was interested in your reference to masculinity and femininity -I would be interested in you or anyone else's take on the meaning of this, either for single or partnered people. Jonathan.

Brendan McNeill said...

“.. it is not a parish's *virtue signaling* on marriage that matters most to them but rather freedom from an ethos in which heteronormality is almost the only norm there is.” BW

Dear Bowman

The term ‘heteronormality’ or heteronormative was first introduced into our lexicon around 1991 (according to Wikipedia) It is effectively used as a pejorative term against a society that is perceived to be indifferent to the needs and rights of those in same sex relationships or who are ‘otherwise gendered’.

It is a narrative straight out of the identity politics playbook most loved by those on the political left. It is predicated on a sense victimhood, either their own, or as perceived in others. It is to coin a phrase, a ‘political construct’ and does nothing to deepen anyone’s understanding of the issues at play here in the Church.

To the LGBTI folks, the very existence of an institution that does not totally celebrate or affirm their sexual identity is anathema to them. It’s not enough that we should ‘welcome’ them into our churches; the fact is they ARE welcome, but rather we must AFFIRM them and their right to sexual expression, otherwise we are ‘heteronormative’ bigoted and homophobic, and deserve to have our tax free status removed, and our Christian schools closed down for indoctrinating hateful ideologies into our children.

Now I put it to you that no amount of SSB is going to change that. Nothing but a complete march through the institution such that it is totally conformed into their image will suffice.

Peter says this is not the case. What we have witnessed and are still witnessing everywhere in western culture says otherwise.

Bowman, If blessing a sexual union that God has expressly forbidden in Scripture and has previously described as ‘detestable’ is not considered by you and by Peter to be blasphemous, what is?

Anonymous said...

Actually, Andrei, I give emerging usage in this fluid semantic field all the awestruck reverence that it deserves. *Heteronormative* is more PC, but is a word for an idea rather than an experienced condition. The scenes of uninspiring dyadic humdrum that my informants have described might have been better labeled with *(hetero)normality*. Perhaps we could give a prize for the best new word for this.

"Peter makes the argument about making the 'LGBTQI... community' feel welcome in church for example, as if redefining marriage is the key to this. It isn't."

"Andrei...Given that SSB or SSM in church are not the key, what in your view is?"

"That is actually quite simple, Bowman. You treat people with respect as individuals and not part of some hypothetical "community" !!! When you interact with someone you don't see a Maori, Gay, Hispanic, Russian, African American, Lesbian, Bantu, Dwarf &c. - you see a fellow Christian who like yourself is struggling through life in the hope of eternal salvation."

I agree with what you affirm, Andrei, but have doubts about what you deny. Yes, of course, we respond to individuals as persons, and we see that personhood most deeply in that their concrete lives are in Christ. If we do not do that, then we are not believers ourselves. But we are not little sparks swirling in the ether of gnosis. I doubt that seeing someone as a soul in Christ entails that we no longer see him in the concrete "sorts and conditions" into which God has placed him. Romans 12-16.

Jonathan, I do not know what Andrei means by *masculinity* and *femininity*, and I myself seldom use the words here at ADU. I do, often, cite St Maximus's account of theosis as Christ's healing within each soul of the great divisions of the fallen cosmos-- God and creatures, things invisible, and things visible, heaven and earth, paradise and world, man and woman. Elsewhere, I refer to the classical Protestant and especially Lutheran notion that the difference and correlation of the sexes are among the archetypal *orders of creation* willed by the Father from the beginning and understood since then by discerning reflection on the pattern and experience of sexed life (eg Ephesians 5). For those of us in Christ who follow antecedents like these, thinking about *masculinity* and *femininity* in a scriptural way is not a juridical search for law and order. Rather it is a metaphysical *faith seeking understanding* rediscovery of them as they are in the new creation begun in the Resurrection and completed at the eschaton (Revelations 21). Whether single or partnered, men and women participate in Christ's healing of the estrangement of the sexes in the fallen world.


Andrei said...

" Andrei, I was interested in your reference to masculinity and femininity -I would be interested in you or anyone else's take on the meaning of this, either for single or partnered people"

Consider this verse from the 1st chapter of Genesis

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Is that in anyway ambiguous Jonathon?

The first thing you notice about a person is their gender, the second their approximate age and you can and do do this without thinking, probably without even consciuosly recognizing you have done it on most occaisions

Why did God in his wisdom arrange his creation this way? I don't know but it is indisputable that he did

And it seems to me the post modern attempt to airbrush gender away is a rebellion against both God and Nature, as well of course being unachievable

Jonathon do you think it is a co-incidence that in the latest school shooting the three adults who died were males? Or that they died sheilding the kids in their care with their bodies?

You know what the exact same phenomina was observed in the theatre shooting a few years back, where young men sheilded their female companions from the assasins bullets with their bodies and died or were wounded while their companions survived and my guess is you will find examples of this in most mass shootings

This is something real men do (its called toxic masculinity today /sarc) - it is inbuilt, you can explain it with evolutionary biology if you are so inclined

The reality is that pregnant and nursing women and their offspring are particularly vunerable and stand a better chance of surviving and prospering with a strong male to protect and support them

And young men for the most part wish to do this, to win a woman they do things to demonstrate their prowess. At the end of the day it is why young men play rugby and why young women are attracted to Rugby players -Chess players for the most part don't have the same girl pulling power as Rugby men.

The next verse of Gemesis

"28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

Again this is fairly clear, men are supposed to unite with women and they are to raise children together

The vast majority of us male or female will never be Prime Ministers or corporate CEOs but will do mundane things we would rather not be doing to support our families

The destruction of the family will inevitably lead to social devastation and the evidence this is occurring is self evident

I put it to you the decimation of Christianity in the West particularly acute among the liberal denominations is a consequence of the weakening of familial bonds

Only one of my kids is married thus far but (a) She is very feminine (b) She married a man who played Aussie Rules and (c) She married within our Faith

Was this a fluke?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Brendan.

That Topic has many aspects. Peter and I agree on some, disagree on others, and have not both engaged still others. I remain unpersuaded by the arguments for SSB (see eg 16/10:28).

On hetero-whatever, see my reply to Andrei. I ignore rules for politically correct language. In the long run, most thinking people do.

On the sexes in scripture, see my reply to Jonathan. As you can see, I detect in the canon a rather high theology of the lost and regained harmony of man and woman.

"Bowman, If blessing a sexual union that God has expressly forbidden in Scripture and has previously described as ‘detestable’ is not considered by you and by Peter to be blasphemous, what is?"

The Jewish definition of blasphemy in St Mark 14:61-63 is far narrower than yours. Since, homosexual acts are not claims to be God, I am not sure what you meant to ask.

The fathers saw Israel as a stage in the transformation of humanity that continues in Christ himself until the establishment of the New Jerusalem at the end of time. Thus, unlike Jews, Christians (eg St Irenaeus of Lyons) read OT legislative texts through the lens of God's revealed ultimate purpose (eg Sabbath --> Christ).

Sexual prohibitions of the OT (eg against masturbation) introduced the procreative norms of the family of Abraham, and in the NT these are subsumed into the ethos of the Body of Christ. God loves children. Such NT admonitions as eg St Paul's vice lists were directed against a pattern of life intentionally lived, not for God, but for idolatrous desire. God hates what vicious hedonism does to souls.

But apart from these, the NT never shows interest in disoriented sexuality per se, let alone an interest in sexuality that is disoriented involuntarily. Neither a strong narrative of God's character and purpose, nor a theme running through the canon, shows God either opposing or blessing truly involuntary SSA. To be clear, such sex is surely not a scriptural ideal. But neither is it the dragon of Revelations 12. God has more characteristically condemned both usury and divorce.

What if less than 3% of the population is neither well-constituted for MWM nor gifted with celibacy? Would that diminish the Bible's authority as a witness to Christ? I do not see how it could. It would remains a precise moral guide for the 97%. Would it be an adequate guide to the rest? Yes, to the extent that its witness to a life centred on God would still make sense. Some debate both the possibilities and the numbers, of course. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is still true no matter what the result.


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I think you may now be blocking my attempt to the Church's Blessing of Same-Sex Couples - on the basis of the 3 clearly stipulated conditions in the Book of Common Prayer:

!. Procreation (not necessary, even for heterosexual marriage.

2. A remedy against sin (No sex outside of the marriage)

3. The mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.

These are common to any monogamous relationship that ought to be able to be blessed by the Church.

Glen Young said...

Hi Brendan,

It's okay mate,you will still be allowed to preach or teach that such blessing are consistent/not consistent with Scripture; which ever way you please. What a shambles!!! So we snuck this into Title G Canon 14; but Canon 14.1 "Each Tikanga is authorized to approve forms of service not inconsistent with the Constitution or with the Formularies of this Church". Proposed addition: 14.8 "blessing the relationship of two people regardless of their sex and sexual orientation where the minister has satisfied him/herself that the relationship is loving,monogamous,faithful and the couple are committed to a life long relationship".

Which party of 14.8 can't they see, is not consistent with the Scriptures or the Formularies. As Bryden says:"G.S. handed the Working Party a poisonous chalice"; and the Working Party has handed it back to G.S. filled to the brim with hemlock.

So when this is all over and the ACANZP is a Clayton's church; someone will have a bright idea and ask: " Well what the Scriptures and the Formularies actually say about blessing S.S."?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Bowman

I’m pleased to hear you are unpersuaded by arguments in favour of SSB. I find it sometimes difficult to interpret all you write on Peter’s blog.

Re: Blasphemy, I accept the definition you refer to in Mark, but the word does appear to have a wider definition elsewhere. In Revelation 2:9, (NKJV) for example Jesus uses the word blasphemy to describe a false claim by some to be Jews when they ‘are a synagogue of Satan’.

That is to make a claim for Godliness when quite the opposite was the case. Happy to use the word ‘profane’ if you prefer but either way it’s not ‘blessed’.

Regardless of what you or I think about the law of Moses and its translation into NT usage / applicability. Article 7 of the 39 articles which form the doctrine of the Anglican church says this, the important element being the last sentence:

THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

Consequently, all of Leviticus chapter 18 and 20 explicitly condemning homosexual practice apply, absent of course the civil punishments for breaking the law.

Similarly, how else would we know what ‘abstaining from sexual immorality’ meant in James instructions to the gentile Christians (Acts 15) if he were not referring to the law of Moses – in fact he references Moses being read in all the towns and synagogues in his next sentence, so the intent is clear.

It’s difficult to have a theological conversation absent Scripture, yet this is what most liberal commentators prefer. Calls for to social justice and the sanctification of the unholy based upon the quality of the relationships. Again, there is no Scriptural backing for these constructs.

We are dealing with well-meaning people who have been caught up in an emotional expression of love, and who believe imposing SSB on the church is going to satisfy those who are in same sex relationships. My pick is that it won’t, and it will divide the church in the process. That’s a big price to pay for a failure of leadership.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Brendan, 39A VII on one hand opposes neo-Marcionism by reaffirming the legal books of the canon, and on the other hand distinguishes moral commandments from all that might be demanded by Judaism. Well done.

Our reading of *moral* there has to comport with what the NT as a whole says about life in Christ. It is clear from eg St Mark 7 that Jesus himself viewed the law as a tool of inward renewal, not just as a behavioural compliance sought for its own sake, and opposes human elaboration of the law that burdens souls and distorts God's purposes. St Paul continues this emphasis in his own teaching eg Romans 5-8 and elsewhere. The present question is how to adapt the moral law to an involuntary and perhaps constitutive disorientation in a relatively small number of individuals while remaining within the constraints set by Christ. I am happy to discuss this from scripture further, if you would like.

The well-meaning friends you mention are struggling with a distinct issue not directly related to homosexuality at all: having replaced the traditional *state of life* view of marriage in the 39A with a *relationships* theory of marriage to achieve greater justice between men and women, they now feel obliged to treat all relationships equally. Their honest problem is trying to reconcile their sentiments about justice with the Father's evident will for the creation.


Anonymous said...

The score so far:

What leads young people to Christ? 4
Weighing responses to the Final Report. 72 Not Out



Glen Young said...


Precisely, and perhaps the time,money and energy put into this issue could have been spent on evangelism; but,no, lack of good Episcopal leadership, for years now has let this type of issue go undisciplined. As wrong as I see it; at least the Working Group is up front about it- put discipline to the side.

The ACANZP is about to become a Clayton's church which stands for nothing and at the same time stands for everything.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters (still time squeezed)
Below I post several comments in response to issues that catch my eye above (or issues which commenters have about the approach I am taking).

Peter Carrell said...

Scripture does NOT expressly forbid same sex blessings in today's context.

At best we INFER that what Scripture does forbid (Old Testament) or warn against (New Testament) means that there is no difference in God's eyes between men have sex with men in any context and two men (or two women) entering into a marriage-contract. It is an INFERENCE because the same Scripture teaches us that civil authority is instituted by God so we are also inferring that in this instance civil authority is not acting according to God's authority.

Is there any justice in our discussions about these matters?

Take another "expressly" or two.

Scripture does not expressly say divorcees may remarry if they repent (yet n many churches we "expressly" permit such remarriage).

Scripture does not expressly say that annulment is a way around Jesus' teaching that remarriage after divorce is adultery, nor that such "adultery" expressly means that participation in Holy Communion is forbidden, but the RCC does that anyway!

Nor does Scripture say expressly that there might be different forms of wedding services for first, second, third marriages, but the Eastern Orthodox do that.

Please: there is a theological debate to have over such matters but please, please do not inaccurately talk about what the Scriptures do and do not expressly forbid.

Peter Carrell said...

Some commenters here are still not understanding that the relationship between "welcome" and "pastoral care" is not only what we (conservative, heterosexuals) say it is ... it is also about what gay and lesbian current, past and prospective members of the church say about it.

One reason why I continue to link "welcome", "pastoral care" and "SSB" is that gay and lesbian observers of our church make that link: a continuing denial of the possibility of SSB (let alone SSM) is conducive to an unwelcoming, uncaring ethos.

This does not mean that individual conservative Anglican parishes are not welcoming and do not care for the few gay and lesbian people who walk through their doors. IT DOES MEAN WE OUGHT TO THINK ABOUT ALL THE GAYS AND LESBIANS WHO ARE NOT WALKING THROUGH OUR DOORS, INDEED WHO MAKE IT CLEAR THEY WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY CONSERVATIVE PART OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH ... because they feel so threatened by the rhetoric coming from it.

If this makes no difference to your approach to these matters, so be it. But I continue to worry about it!

Peter Carrell said...

Do those opposing the proposal realise the full implications of their opposition?

Please correct me if I am wrong in my understanding of blanket, under-no-circumstances opposition to the proposal ...

This opposition means that despite there being civil SSM in our country, despite there being same sex couples in our churches (or potentially interested in joining our churches) there can never be, anywhere, by any priest or bishop, under any circumstance, ever, a formal prayer for a couple and an expression of thanksgiving for their willingness to commit to each other (and thus commit to not being promiscuous, etc).

Further, this express, blanket opposition means that morally this church is committed with every fibre of its being to treating same sex couples willing to commit to each other for life as morally the same as promiscuous fornicators and adulterers. There is no distinction. God is as morally mad with those willing to commit as with those enjoying promiscuity, orgies and the like.

Am I misunderstanding the implication of the unwillingness to countenance a few priests here and there being permitted to bless such relationships?

Peter Carrell said...

Valuing and devaluing marriage

I accept that permitting SSB under limited circumstances has implications for the value placed on marriage and this has implications which may result in the devaluing of marriage. In particular I recognise that if we over-emphasise the "contractual" character of marriage we likely under-emphasise the "covenantal" character of marriage. And SSB is clearly an emphasis on the contractual aspects of marriage (commitment, fidelity, permanency).

But I do not accept that we cannot talk about valuing SSB and valuing marriage (if that is the implication of a comment above).

Imagine, if you will, this conversation between a happily married couple of parents commenting here and one of their children:

Child: Mum and Dad I have four things to say to you.
1. I am gay
2. I have met the love of my life
3. We are going to get married.
4. I want this to be so because I value your marriage and the example it sets for us - your love, your faithfulness to each other, your life long devotion to each other.

Parents (option 1): We understand (1) and (2) but (3) and (4) mean nothing to us because that is devaluing marriage and that we cannot accept.

Parents (option 2): We understand (1) to (4) and we are grateful that you so value what you have seen in our marriage that you wish to marry also.

Here's the thing: on any reckoning I reckon every commenter here actually understands that it is entirely reasonable to assume that every loving parent commenting here would respond along the lines of option 2 and not option 1.

It is not necessarily the case that proponents of SSB/SSM are devaluing marriage when they are talking about valuing marriage.

Unknown said...

Peter Regardless of whether M29 passes or not conservative churches will be labeled as homophobic and hateful. By contrast, liberal churches will be the enlightened. By all means let's have a serious discussion about how our church can be inspirational and welcoming to all people. But don't try and make out that allowing SSB in the Anglican church will cover everyone with a warm welcoming glow. Steve

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
You make a good point!
No, indeed - if the proposal goes ahead, it will not therefore make all Anglican churches equally warm and glowing.
(I am by the way, not the least bit interested in fostering talk about "homophobic and hateful" but I am concerned when I find a young, gay sister in Christ talking about steering well clear of churches which are conservative ... I want Anglicans to remain Anglicans and new Anglicans to join us ... but I fear that we are communicating messages we do not intend to communicate so that "welcome" translates to "steer clear.")

Anonymous said...

Peter; your comments at 6.53pm almost sound like a James Joyce epiphany as opposed to the real type. You would better compare people in a committed same sex relationship to people in a committed heterosexual but premarital relationship. The Church does not appear to value the commitment in either. It’s clear that committed heterosexuals living in sin are not in the same league as swingers. In sin they live nevertheless. The same applies to same sex couples. Furthermore, can you really hang your hat on what the bible does not specifically outlaw. I don’t think it specifically outlaws paedophilia, but no one suggests this is other than wrong.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
For the committed heterosexual couple who are not married the church continues to hold out the hope, prospect and blessing of marriage. Thus the church (it seems to me, just the other day I heard about a priest who ...) overlooks and does not rail against man and a woman "living in sin", believing that drawing the couple on to marriage is the better choice for pastoral care than condemning from the pulpit.

But for a committed same sex couple it is possible that your church and mine have nothing to offer (than general care, informal prayers, and, perhaps, silence on the matter of whether they "really ought to be celibate"). My church has the prospect of some priests and bishops being permitted to bless ... but here that is turned down completely by most commenters. And most commenters here are avoiding the question whether God might take a gentler, kinder view of the possibility of supporting rather than condemning gay persons in a committed partnerships - persons for whom marriage in the usual Christian sense is not an option, unlike the heterosexual couples to whom you refer.

Those supporting the proposal and those who go further and believe they should be able to perform SSB may be completely wrong, especially in the calculations of the moral calculus. That is possible. Virtually everyone here commenting thinks it is certain!

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter, Feb 18th @ 6.40 PM.

Yes there certainly is a theological debate to be had; but should not that have come first.The irresponsible manner in which this issue was foisted on the average Anglican caused the polarization of the debate. If the question had been handled sensitively, progress could well have been made. I have a whole folio of misquoted Scriptures by the proponents of SSB. Scripture does expressly forbid illicit sex, even to the point of even desiring it. But from the start Peter, I had no desire to get mixed up in this slanging match, which is not going to change anybodies views. I have spent enough time with addicts to know that deep seated beliefs are not changed with rational argument.

@ 6.53PM. YES, but do the proponents of SSB realize the full legal and Constitutional implications of their support? Again Peter, I have spent countless hours writing "Best Practice" for our company in mental health. The argument put in support of Pastoral Care is based on the "fixidity" of homosexual desires. The JESUS which I know and worship,healed the man who was blind from birth,the man who was deaf,the man who was lame and brought Lazarus back from the grave; and you tell me that He can not heal misplaced sexual desires. The JESUS who can not make us sinners whole [salvos] is not the JESUS I find in the legitimate Doctrine of the ACANZP and Her Formularies. Quite frankly Peter, I think you have become too close to the whole issue to have an objective opinion on it.

Anonymous said...

"I find it sometimes difficult to interpret all you write on Peter’s blog."

Brendan, Peter usually frames SSB as a question whether those who favour it are brothers in Christ who can be in the same church with those as deeply sceptical of their rationale as I am. The most scriptural answer to that question is yes. And so I generally support the search for a just and pastorally responsible way for the two parties to inhabit one household of faith.

When SSB in the abstract is the topic, I am, as above, unpersuaded.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bowman
Your latest comment most perfectly sums up what I am trying to achieve. Thank you!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Glen
It is likely that I am becoming to subjective on the matter - it is partly a reaction to those who continue to debate it in terms of objectivity! I am leaning towards that subjective line but, frankly, if most of the comments here were "liberal" and based on poor understanding of Scripture, constitution etc, I would be trying to shift such thinking as well.

On the "fixity" of sexual orientation: our Lord Jesus Christ working through the Holy Spirit is powerful to transform lives. Just as there are heterosexual sex addicts I am sure there are homosexual sex addicts and Christ is powerful to save both. What is not clear to me is that a homosexual orientation which, despite a life of prayer and appropriate counselling, does not change for the Christian who is so oriented, is something we should continue to think of as "might still be transformed." My friends who are gay and lesbian in our church say their orientation is as fixed as mine! They also long to have acceptance by the church of their lifetime partner.

Jonathan said...

Thanks, Andrei (re Feb 17 12:47pm).
Good comment about more men protecting women - mainly from other men engaged in killing - it would have been good if there had been one of those around in Henry VIII's time although I expect I would have been imbibed in the cultural expectations that obedience to the gospel would have meant obeying authority had I been in the position of being a guard of a to-be-beheaded-Queen with a key. My (tentative) definition of both masculinity and femininity is Christlikeness and the fruit of the Spirit, and Jesus as role model for both men and women. Others might regard Mary and Sarah as better role models for women. To that definition I would add that, for some, it involves the differentiated biological roles in begetting babies, (where more women die in the process than do men). Further, there will be a lot of fair and valid contrasts between men and women on the basis of averages (I assume more men play rugby than women; more women than men are the primary caregiver for children at home; more men are policemen/kings/judges than women are policewomen/queens/judges), but I don't think that's "prescription" masculinity or femininity. Not sure about the gender issues re Chess players or Chess pieces! I agree that protecting family life is essential to social cohesion; as is practising the gift of friendship and the type of kinship Jesus referred to amongst those doing the will of the Father.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Bowman for your links to Richard Hays (some time ago) which I've just downloaded. Regards, Jonathan.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

I,to share your concern about the "welcome/Pastoral Care"; but the manner in which G.S. has approached this issue, is nothing short of unprofessional. I feel that you also need to bear in mind that approx. 40 years ago,such actions were a crime under the Crimes Act. In a space of 40 years, public opinion has had to change from; it not any longer being a crime, to being a form of marriage in Civil Law. Likewise,Conservative Anglicans are being asked to accept something, which the Church as well as the State did not hold to be moral; should now be blessed without any agreed Scriptural basis for doing so. And certain objectionable billboards outside a highly visible Auckland Anglican Church is still very fresh in my mind. Also, official objections to public statements made by clergy of that Church, which were clearly inconsistent with the Constitution and Canons; being met with derision from the Auckland Bishop.In short Peter, I feel that the greatest hinderance to your cause ,is not the Conservative blogers
on your site;but the Bishops and G.S. of your Church.

Bryden Black said...

"Their honest problem is trying to reconcile their sentiments about justice with the Father's evident will for the creation." Bowman @ February 17, 2018 at 11:50 PM

Brilliant Bowman! Many thanks indeed! For this formulation of one main feature of our basic dilemmas catches many of the concerns I’ve canvassed often here on ADU. Once more, I’ll parse this formulation to show how so.

"Their honest problem": this echoes my third Basic Question. Viz: "How do people become genuinely mistaken?" And naturally this cuts not just both ways but all ways, potentially. And mistakes may be caused by a number of differing reasons - misunderstanding, ignorance, wilful obscurantism despite ourselves. Nor should we avoid the hard issue. Some have tried to plead a line from Kant, that without due concepts our percepts are blind - that is, without appreciating an alleged aetiology, as to what ‘causes’ particular phenomena, we are mistaken in our evaluation of them. This is otiose. For even if humans have indeed observed stuff and passed a moral judgment, ignorance of say biology does not necessarily negate that judgment. We have eaten foods for millennia without appreciating the intricate mechanism of digestion; we’ve avoided poisons without knowing their exact biochemistry; we’ve successfully procreated without being aware of the role of key hormones in triggering successful implantation in the uterus. NTW’s video clip prevails regarding Paul’s awareness of multiple forms of same sex behaviours in his day. And naturally Jews made their moral judgments - premised on the perceived character of the covenant God, the character continued into the Christian Faith necessarily.

“Reconcile ... justice”: it’s exactly at this point the overall work of Alasdair MacIntyre kicks in. And so far I have seen absolutely no attempt on this site to address the enormous importance of say how ‘they’ might “reconcile” so-called universal modernist notions of ‘justice’ with contemporary postmodern forms of social constructionism as these impact any form of ‘justice’ - let alone Christian views of “creation” and the divine order associated with any doctrine of creation. No; such notions of “order” do not necessarily imply ‘everything is set in stone’. Rather, it decrees a due relationship between form and freedom, which relationships we are beholden to discover - ever guided by that very God who enters into Covenant with us.

“Father’s evident will”: at root, either we do subscribe to a form of revealed torah, say Ps 19, or we merely join the host of people down the centuries who, although seeking ma‛at, the tao, or whatever, nonetheless may never come to the realization that what is required is a new creation, a heart transplant, all of which enables humans to fulfil that torah (1 Jn 3:9). For such is the fruit of the Gospel of Jesus - albeit over time and into eternity. And so see Cont comment below ...

Yet again; as per NTW, what is demanded of the Church in our day is a far more bold grasping of the nettle to precisely deconstruct what seems so very ‘obvious’ ‘to us’ and yet which actually results in massive confusion, both of thinking and of behaviours. And such confusion smacks far more of the god of this world than the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness of the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

Bryden Black said...

“I do, often, cite St Maximus's account of theosis as Christ's healing within each soul of the great divisions of the fallen cosmos—God and creatures, things invisible, and things visible, heaven and earth, paradise and world, man and woman. Elsewhere, I refer to the classical Protestant and especially Lutheran notion that the difference and correlation of the sexes are among the archetypal *orders of creation* willed by the Father from the beginning and understood since then by discerning reflection on the pattern and experience of sexed life (eg Ephesians 5). For those of us in Christ who follow antecedents like these, thinking about *masculinity* and *femininity* in a scriptural way is not a juridical search for law and order. Rather it is a metaphysical *faith seeking understanding* rediscovery of them as they are in the new creation, begun in the Resurrection and completed at the eschaton (Revelations 21). Whether single or partnered, men and women participate in Christ's healing of the estrangement of the sexes in the fallen world.” Bowman @ February 17, 2018 at 12:17 PM

It is once again this kind of reasoned discussion, resourced from within the Tradition and its ‘reading’ of Scripture, which has been lacking here in ACANZ&P. Instead, we are dominated by the experiential paradigm. [And please; don’t quote me those Hermeneutical Huis! They barely graduated us out of kindergarten. And if ever there was proof needed of Bowman’s caveat re synodical government in the 21st C, they were it! Gratefully, even Kenneth Locke is aware of the problem. But we heed not his warning - just those other bits we prefer.]

True; the Christian faith is concretely about ‘experience’; yet experience duly understood and thereafter our forms of understanding evaluated and appraised. Who would have ever divined that poor man strung up on a Roman gibbet outside Jerusalem was God’s appointed Lamb dying for the sins of the entire world?! Yet, to mention Luther again: crux probat omnia! The Cross is the criterion of all things properly Christian.

And so, whether subjectively or objectively or among their myriad interfaces (e.g. Émile Durkheim’s conscience collective), what is required of Christians’ due faith seeking understanding has sadly, tragically been almost entirely avoided hereabouts. And the WG’s proposals remain that mélange of conflicting, contradictory options, which will, in the end, satisfy few.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter, for your perseverance.

Have you tried drawing my graph at 16/10:28?

From observation, it seems that opponents of SSB oppose it just because they prefer a moral standard that is independent of their subjective feelings. Understandably then, appeals to their feelings to get them to change their moral views have not been working.

This disposition is not just resistance to a certain sort of rhetoric. It also explains why they prefer to view marriage as a definite *state of life* rather than as a more fluid *relationship*.

Having that preference, they are not troubled by the dilemmas that distress those who have its reverse. That is, given that marriage is a "state of life allowed by scripture" they feel no more guilt that scripture did not allow a state for persons not disposed to procreate, than they do that God did not give dogs the intelligent spines of cats, nor bears the songs of birds. The Creator made Leviathan and Behemoth for his pleasure. Believing in him means never having to apologise for what he has (not) made.

It may be easier to elicit empathy, or at least sympathy, from most opponents of SSB by reasoning with, rather than against, their connatural preference.


Glen Young said...

And here, I am reminded of Bonhoeffer's belief that the sharp distinction between the "natural" and the "Supernatural" has led to the mistaken view that these two are the opposites; when, in fact, the opposite to natural is unnatural. All that we consider as natural is supernatural and what we consider supernatural is in in fact natural to God.

Anonymous said...

I again wonder, Bryden, how far the Book of Job may be the central text for That Topic.

For those who have not read it--

Satan induces God to test the patience of Job with several disasters that remove every ordinary consolation of that rich man's life-- wealth, family, honour, health, love. Job protests this reversal of fortune is not just in the cosmos created by God-- his innocence has not been rewarded; he has been punished without guilt. His wife has no patience for his problem-- who of us can blame her? --and suggests that he curse God so that he can die.

A few visiting friends successively attack every side of Job's box-- Job is not innocent; his plight is not unmerited; his protest to God is not prudent; God's justice should not be questioned, etc. Job does not find their comments helpful.

Then the Whirlwind answers them all. He is more just than Job or his friends believe. In a *tour d'horizon* of the whole cosmos, he shows them that his creative work far transcends the distribution of just deserts as men understand that. Among other wonders, he has even, for instance, created terrifying monsters-- Leviathan and Behemoth --for his own pleasure.

After this, Job is contrite, and the Creator more than restores his fortunes. Finally, after all of his protest at God's injustice, a chastened Job tacitly redresses an injustice of his own by dividing his new wealth equally between his new sons and his new daughters.

As in discussion of That Topic--

(a) There is a bitter conflict over what part divine justice plays in a divinely created cosmos.

(b) Many voices speak out of fragmentary concepts of that justice-- all deserve sex; there cannot be sin without responsibility; there cannot be responsibility without choice; there cannot be justice without clear commands; there cannot be justice without unchanging commands; there cannot be justice without flexible commands. As in the Book of Job, these concepts are not fully integrated in the thoughts of many *friends* here.

(c) Even when the language is about God's *mercy*, he is seen more as an impersonal Judge executing ideal justice than as the exuberant Creator for whom justice is only a part of his wider and more complex work.

(d) *Friends* in churches seem unaware that human beings are estranged by their different moral sentiments.

(e) The duty to tell the truth, the difficulty of applying it to the case at hand, and the willingness to be present to a friend in need-- each seems to be in tension with the others.

(f) Those suffering might be more beloved than we know.

(g) God's strangest creations are, not a problem but a solution, albeit to something that we do not understand.

(h) Humility and wonder predispose us to see our relation to God as it is.

(i) Allegiance to God counts for more than many recognise.

On a reading that is more canonical and theological, and so more Christian, we may see these similarities in greater depth.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
No. No time to do graphs.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, I have tried offering comments over the last few days, but they have either failed the authentication test or have been rejected by you for reasons you don't have to explain. I note Bowman's comment here - apropos one of Brendan's comments:

"Brendan, Peter usually frames SSB as a question whether those who favour it are brothers in Christ who can be in the same church with those as deeply sceptical of their rationale as I am. The most scriptural answer to that question is yes. And so I generally support the search for a just and pastorally responsible way for the two parties to inhabit one household of faith." - (Bowman).

This seems to me - a supporter of the Church's acceptance and Blessing of monogamously faithful same-sex relationships - a thoroughly, pastorally Christian answer to the proposal contained in ACANZP's Motion 29.

Although we may not approve - as Christians - the legalised concept of Same-Sex Marriage, this has become a reality in our society. It has been recognised by the State - partly I believe as a measure in response to those in society (some of them Christian believers) who might have wanted the Church to offer some sort of pastoral Church recognition of their choice of faithfulness to one partner. However, in the face of the Church's initial response which was negative; they have welcomed, instead, the facility now offered of Civil Marriage.

I believe that, if Christian Gay couples had been offered support by the Church in the first instance; they may not have needed the government to offer the security of a full marriage ceremony - similar to heterosexuals.


Father Ron Smith said...


When considering the theology of marriage - as expressed in the BCP, I find the following 'reasons' for the institution:

1: Procreation (not now necessary in heterosexual Christian Marriage)

2: A remedy against 'sin' (No sex outside marriage)

3: The mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have as the other. (a real need for a bonded couple - of whichever gender).

These REASONS for the institution of Marriage do not appear to justify the exclusion of faithful, monogamous same-sex relationship.

While I, myself, may not be keen to preside at SSM, I would certainly not balk at the prospect of offering a Church-approved ceremony of SSB. This would seem to be in accordance with 'Best Pastoral Practise for Anglicans.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I have not knowingly blocked your comments. I have found a few comments requiring moderation and released those. Occasionally Blogger loses comments altogether.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Glen, Bonhoeffer was right, Epicurus wrong. (In Yiddish, calling someone an epicurean is an insult, which shows how the old world Jews viewed materialism.)

The biblical authors tend to use apocalyptic or wisdom imagery to communicate this vision of heaven and earth in eventual harmony through Christ, but our dear fellow churchmen lack the imagination to process this AND they are exposed to a culture that views only the material as real and only the causal as material. A brother or sister with a fixed disorientation thus finds it relatively easy to understand the SSA in the secular way that sounds medical, but struggles to make any sense of it in the worldview of the Lord's Prayer, unless it too can be seen as created in the Bible's worldview.

Too bad, Peter, that picture is worth a million words. And they take much more time!

And Bryden, an afterthought-- if an NT revision of Job is a path into the sunlight, then how does that relate to wisdom and apocalyptic writings that tug in differing directions?


Peter Carrell said...

There is more in Job than meets the eye on a first reading, Bowman. Thank you. We desperately need some theological imagination to envision God as exuberant!

Father Ron Smith said...

"All ye works of the Lord - including those we may not understand - Bless ye the Lord! Praise Him and magnify Him for ever!" Laudamus te, Adoramus te!

Bryden Black said...

Ah yes, Bowman - Job! Yet both Job, the literary masterpiece, and Job, the man, have been pressed into service by all kinds of people for all kinds of purposes/ends with all kinds of rationalizations. I’ve even enjoyed a course led by a psychologist on Job ala the stages of grief, in my hospice ministry.

What you would not necessarily know is that some 20 years ago I found myself having to teach an OT Theology course - and what fun we had! So much so, they invited me to return 2 years later!! Unfortunately, David Clines had not yet published either his second or third volume commentary; but there were others out there who came to our aid - principally, Norman Habel, Gerald Janzen, Roy Zuck, Roland Murphy, Leo Purdue, James Crenshaw, Derek Kidner, David Atkinson, Francis Andersen, to say nothing of that classic by von Rad. So; we were well served!

Yet, I find your list and summary in the end not that helpful. Sure; this God, who allows himself to be challenged by the satan (prologue), and who even allows a form of rib by both Job the patient and Job the impatient, precisely enters the court room himself - only to blow dear Job away - or does he?! For I’m taken by Janzen’s translation and therefore commentary on Job 42:5-6. Finally, after a long development of narrative and poetic dialogue, Job and God/Yahweh meet face to face indeed, with the result that Job has to reassess, amongst other things, what it means to be human - yet that very reassessment itself counters almost all ‘hearsay religion’ and ‘wisdom’ to date. I quote JGJ:

“Will the silent God speak, that Job may hear? And will the absent God appear, that Job may see?” (emphases original)

While Job indeed did not know ... and God is all knowing, so that Job “therefore” confesses (vv.1-3), the final “therefore” is delightfully and powerfully a final rhetorical twist in the tale/tail! The translation and exegesis: “I change my mind/I recant/I withdraw my charges, due to my dissolution before your face/presence ... “CONCERNING” (the Hebrew is consistently clear even if often mistranslated at this point) - WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN, a mere human.” So e.g. Gen 18:27 & Job 30:19. This mere human, like Ab, has indeed stood up to this God who allows himself seemingly to be challenged, and while the Lord of all remains sovereign indeed - clearly! - nonetheless, Job has survived the encounter, and more than survived, he has seen face-to-face, and been fully and utterly heard out; and his RELATIONSHIP is more than restored but enriched. To be “dust and ashes”, a mere human, a mere creature like the conies and the deer - yet unlike them - as Yahweh, the Covenant God is named (crucially here), so Job is HIS due partner, refashioned and reformed by the entire narrative of chs 1-41. [Intriguingly, you mention B and L, with whom God plays “exuberantly” (PC); yet ironically, their actions are echoed to a real degree by Job himself; so, read those verses in chs 40-41 as if they were describing Job (as well as these two, B & L)!]

Bryden Black said...

Upshot: I sense all this cuts every which way, irrespective of how cultures may seek to design/define/deem ‘the human’ down the ages. The Creator seeks a fulsome relationship with this creature, that this creature may supremely yet humbly represent Yahweh to the rest of creation, as problematic as that creation often seems to be - presently - including ourselves, and ourselves to ourselves; and this imaging is no light matter; it is indeed designed to be eternal. And are we up to it?! Clearly: both no - and yes, in Christ Jesus. I suggest all those who deem themselves SSA might sit at Maximus’s feet and contemplate his 400 on Love. Or, as I too have done, sit and engage face-to-face with ‘others’ to thrash out our respective hermeneutics of ‘the human’ - and by all means use Job as part and parcel of that. For it’s truly awesome and glorious stuff ...

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

Jesus made thee points in Matt 19.
[1] "He made them male and female and for this reason [sex and starting their own family] a man ...."
[2] "..the twain shall become one..." loving ,fidelity and committed.
[3] "......let no man put asunder".

It was actually Meat Loaf who sang "two out three ain't bad"; not Jesus.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Ron for using that language which most will no longer understand, Latin. For I’d change only one word in your latest comment: delete “including”; replace with “especially”. For it’s the tracing of notably those things we do not understand and therefore (perhaps) which drive us to seek their resolution - and Job surely again and again turns during the unfolding of the drama on both resolution and seeming further precipitation of additional complexity (a phrase that is necessarily also awkwardly complex!) - that leads, eventually for Job, the man, to a glorious resolution of his humanity, one which also offers us all a dazzling degree of freedom amidst Yahweh’s true form. As I say, Bowman’s citing Job cuts every which way - even as torah canonically remains nonetheless (say, Ps 119!).

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bryden and Glen
Is finding love in a fellow human being and committing for life to that person a significant element of your personal development and maturity as both a human person and a person of faith?

If the answer is Yes, does that mean that God is keen on experiences of human growth and development which come through stable connectedness and intimacy through lifelong love?

Glen Young said...

Hi Bryden and Bowman,

My favorite words in the Book of Job are found in Ch.38. I was once so proud of my achievements and knowledge; until I stood at end of son's hospitable bed where he was racked in pain from auto-immune disorder and not likely to recover.I said God:"I have been so foolish,everything I have was yours from the foundation of the world".

It has certainly altered my view on the material world.

Brendan McNeill said...

“Dear Bryden and Glen
Is finding love in a fellow human being and committing for life to that person a significant element of your personal development and maturity as both a human person and a person of faith?

If the answer is Yes, does that mean that God is keen on experiences of human growth and development which come through stable connectedness and intimacy through lifelong love? “ – Peter Carroll.

Dear Peter

The answer to your question is: ‘it depends’.

If that “fellow human being” is my sister, then I suspect God is not so keen, but I’m not surprised to hear your continued defence of relationship attributes such as “stable, connected, intimate and loving” as being the deciding criteria for His approval and blessing on sexual intimacy.

Peter, you are the Director of Theology House, I respectfully suggest you stop this - It has become embarrassing.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I will not cease my attempt to elicit some modest sign of recognition that a theology of human life might place greater value on the human desire for companionship than is exhibited in this thread.

Do not bring up incest because that is not being talked about here.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

I have had a number of very dear male friends, whom have added greatly to my development as a person. Yes, I have valued the love and commitment, which we have shared in each other's lives; but that is where it ended. As a married man, it is necessary to admit that some females may also have had an valuable input into my life,but, again that is where it ends.

You see, Peter, it is about being taught to draw boundaries in your life. As a man, someone may be very dear to you; but that never equates to them being a sexual partner. If you have the XY genes; and you have a same sex attraction, then surely you must question where this fits into God's Ordained Created Order.

Peter,I have struggled at times in my life with certain herbs God has given us; but at the end of the day,either you will overcome them or they will overcome you. And as God tells Cain:"If Thou doest not well ,sin lieth at the door".

So,Peter, the Theological question you need to consider; is as to whether same sex attractions were created by God as a legitimate alternative to man/woman relationships or whether they are part of the "fall of man " and should be threaded accordingly.

Bryden Black said...

Dear Peter, re your very latest @ 3:43. Some 25 years ago I was on record as saying this entire debate might be described as a "tragic irony". Those two words are so very loaded. E.g. the point of Greek Tragedy often revolved around the protagonists being 'heroic' people, with seeming 'good virtues' - and yet, such was the full picture (often including the Fates) that things were bound "to end in tears" in the end. It is precisely because I have LONG recognised this tragic element to our "double-bunger of a bind" that I again bring it up.

Brendan McNeill said...


You have a degree in mathematics amongst other qualifications including a Ph. D. in Theology. I’m assuming therefore that you are a logical thinker.

It is illogical to pick one of more than a dozen prohibited sexual relationships from Scripture and excuse it based on attributes such as ‘stability, love and commitment’, and not allow those same attributes to exempt all other prohibited relationships.

Surely what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?

How can your preference for one prohibited sexual relationship over another be justified? Why are you upset over one, and enthusiastic about another when they are both equally condemned by God?

It is the universal application of your ‘theological’ defence of SSB that exposes its weakness. It is embarrassing for someone with your status and qualifications to continue in this vein.

Unknown said...

Hi Peter
You seem to be talking at cross purposes to others on this thread. Because as a retired minister put it recently you are not talking about the elephant in the room, sex.
People may agree that the human desire for companionship is to be valued. However, they might not agree that a sexual relationship is a valid way of expressing that.
A follow-on to this would be where it leaves all those Christians who have SSA and choose to live celibate lives because they want to be faithful to God's word.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen, Bryden, Steve, Brendan
(I remain under straitened circumstances re communicating via the internet!)
It may be a tragic irony, but we are talking about making the best of post-fall life, as we do when we work with those who have been divorced and find ways to make possible human companionship (including sexual companionship).
We are talking about SSB and not (say, blessing incest) because, frankly, I know of no one seeking that blessing, but I know plenty of gay and lesbian persons or parents of gay and lesbian persons who wonder, often in silence, whether the church might find a way to bless what otherwise are responsible, lifegiving relarionships.
The answer we give, in the end, may be a firm No because we say Yes to continuing the status quo.
I want to check out whether conservative arguments for No are sound, fair, consistent and connected to the actual state of our church.
It must be pretty obvious that I am not completely satisfied by your arguments!
I myself remain of the view that I do not see sufficient soundness of argument in Scripture and tradition for SSB to be performed by my.
I also remain of the view that the spread of views across our church, held by dear brothers and sisters in Christ, who place different weight on certain Scriptures than I do, means that we should provide space in our church for SSB to take place, as the proposal proposes.

Unknown said...

I think we are beyond the possibility of this happening. "The answer we give, in the end, may be a firm No because we say Yes to continuing the status quo." Unfortunately, I think we are at the stage of trying to figure out how much distance either end of the spectrum needs. This seems to really be what M29 is about. A proposal of some distance but not too much.
The question is is that enough? You clearly think yes others no. Time will tell.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

Your most recent response @ February 20, 2018 at 6:07 PM is a clear example of why you ought to have headed my earlier encouragement to cease communications to avoid ongoing personal and denominational embarrassment.

If I may rehearse your reasoning as outlined in the referenced post and I quote you as follows:

a) “I myself remain of the view that I do not see sufficient soundness of argument in Scripture and tradition for SSB to be performed by my(self).

b) “I also remain of the view….. that we should provide space in our church for SSB to take place”

Why does Peter Carroll the director of theology house desire to see SSB performed in the household of God, when he acknowledges (in previous posts) that homosexual acts are sinful, and in the above post that he could not bring himself to perform such a heretical blessing?

c) “the spread of views across our church, held by dear brothers and sisters in Christ, who place different weight on certain Scriptures than I do, means that we should provide space in our church for SSB to take place.”

Answer: Because he has friends in the Church who believe it is justifiable and necessary.

It is here that we move beyond embarrassment into the territory of personal compromise.

When faced with the question: Who then shall we please, man or God? Knowing that SSB is theologically unsustainable, you have chosen to please man rather than God.

The only question that remains to be answered is why compromise your eternal inheritance for a bowl of pottage today?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
I agree that it is more probable the proposal will pass than the status quo remain.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I am not embarrassed to belong to a church which holds a variety of views, as other churches are doing around the world.

Father Ron Smith said...

Brendan, I think you arer getting rather confused here, when you try to equate legal same-sex relationship with unlawful carnal knowledge. Civil socety recognises, and manages to deal with, that so obvious difference. However, there is that old saying;

Motion 29 says nothing about unlawful sexual relationships - like, e.g.; incest, paedophilia or bestiality (often these are confused weith homosexuality).

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, just one further quote from the book I am currently reading:

'(Pope Francis') language to the cardinals following a (R.C.) consistory in February 2015 appeared to turn fairly on the old criteria both for leadership and for who is considered 'worthy' of inclusion in the community. He spoke of two ways of 'having faith': "We can fear to lose the saved and we can want to save the lost." He said the church was today at the crossroads of these two approaches:

"The thinking of the doctors of the law, which would remove the danger, by casting out the diseased person" is one approach. The other is "the thinking of God, who in his mercy embraces and accepts - by reinstating him and turning evil into good, condemnation into salvation and exclusion into proclamation." He identified "the way of Jesus" with "the way of mercy and integration". It is the work of the church, he said, "to leave her four walls behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those on the outskirts of life."

This, I really do believe, is what Motion 29 is trying to do. To accept the fact that LGBTQI persons are seen by some of the 'lawgivers' to be diseased. Whereas Jesus would have welcomed them - like the leper - into the Body of Christ - what the Pope has called a 'hospital for sinners' - to receive the healing only God can give. If we reject the pastoral implications of Motion 29; I believe we mark ourselves out as lawgivers, rather than self-confessed fellow sinners in need of mercy.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You make a good point which coheres with a concern of mine about some lines of explanation for rejecting the proposal. It is not clear for me re some comments above re members of our church in a civil SSM who refuse to be celibate. Are they to be excommunicated/expelled? Refused communion? Forbidden office? Dropped from the cleaning roster? Rejection of the proposal should come with a view on living with the reality of life in our church ...

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

So what about the Adulterer who keeps committing adultery or the thief who keeps thieving; are they to be excommunicated?

Glen Young said...

Hi Ron,

"Hospital for sinners"

What would a doctor say about a patient in a cardiac ward ,who sat in bed all day drinking,smoking and eating KFC? Hospitals are places to get well in. Churches are places to learn and be encouraged to leave the "old man" behind and grow into Christ.

Anonymous said...

Score update:

What leads young people to Christ? still 4
Weighing responses to the Final Report. 124 Not Out



Glen Young said...

Hi Bowman, re your blog Feb. 19th @ 10.56 PM.

I am sorry but I got distracted from replying. You make an excellent point about the lack of imagination preventing us from seeing the Spiritual V the material.The Nicene Creed:"We believe in one God,the Father,the Almighty,maker of heaven and earth,of all that is,seen and unseen".

It is often said that believing in the unseen is not being objective; to them I say, read T.V.Morris. After twenty years of working with mental disorders,I came to the conclusion that the true basis of man's problems lies in what is embedded in the SPIRIT and not in the MIND.

What are your thoughts? Cheers, Glen.

Father Ron Smith said...

Glen the answer to your question here; NO. This is God's preprogative. God is often infinitely more merciful than the Church. Thanks be to God. (Jesus said, I have come to save not the righteous but sinners. He also said: How many times should you forgive? Not seven times but seventy! a lesson to us lawgivers).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
Especially if the thief kept knicking the offertory!

Anonymous said...

However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out ‘The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, ‘But who has won?’

This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, ‘*everybody* has won, and all must have prizes.’

--Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 3,

In effect, Father Ron, although perhaps not intent, you outline a case for a Relationship Blessing (RB) to altogether REPLACE the traditional solemnisation of marriage as one of the "*states of life* [that are] allowed in scripture but have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord's Supper" (39A XXV). A more complete rationale for your approach can be found here--

And if-- but only if-- one believes more or less fervently either in RB, or else (which comes to the same thing) in treating MWM and SSM as though they were mere variations of RB, then questions of equity can arise among all the different sorts of couples for whom we think that the clergy should care-- the childless ones, the twice-married ones, the same sex ones, the same sex ones that actually have sex, presumably the interfaith ones, maybe the polygamous ones too (though probably not the incestuous ones) etc. If a church must care for couples per se, and if the obligatory way to care for a couple is to have a ritual for it, then one must have some kind of ritual for every single sort of couple whatsoever. All must have prizes.

Oddly, this discussion, which absorbs so much of the energy of churches, is not very Christian. The comments here scarcely ever refer to an article of the creeds. The few references to scripture are usually shallow and perfunctory. The energy flows to just two narrow arguments with little or no meaning for most of those caught up in the meaning of the Resurrection-- disoriented sex is malevolent; relationships per se must be blessed. Meanwhile, RB is being invented in other religions with no core belief about marriage at all. Local covens of Wiccans can and do have analogous discussions about the pagan RB called *handfasting*. Buddhists practise a quintessentially monastic religion, but where this has taken a congregational form in the West, even they discuss the right ways of observing that two lay members of the *sangha* have formed a bond.

In short, RB sounds to me like *social religion*. Just as there has been a generation of Christians who could not see any difficulty in blessing weapons that could obliterate all life on earth, so now there is a generation that cannot see the point of a religion that will not bless every couple and maybe their orgasms too. As a Christian, I do not believe in either cult, but it is interesting to watch.


Glen Young said...


I simply go back to the rich young man who went away sad.

And you do realize that a number of people die in hospital.

Father Ron Smith said...

Brendan. Evrybody dies eventually. So what is your point here?

BW. I'm more confused that ever about what is your stance on S/S Blessings. I cannot tell from your latest (and foregoing, for that matter) posts, which seem a vague mixture of scholastic metaphor and vague references to other-worldly suppositions.
Could you just give us a few lines, so that ordinary people like myself can try to understand what you are wanting to convey. What do you REALLY mean?

Anonymous said...

Thinking about SSB, not as a declension from MWM, but rather as a tentative step toward RB reframes the question. Although the best expression of belief does matter, what is ultimately important to God is right participation in the human community that bears his image.

Where I live, all the houses of worship, meditation, study, etc face sidewalks along the same snowy streets. And just as everyone else must do, they will either clear the snow that falls on their stretch of walk for all the passersby, or else pay a heavy fine that the city is not slack about assessing and collecting. However you feel about it, the Inspector will say, "Is that your walk? Get it cleared or else!" And-- do you want someone to slip and fall just outside your door because you did not find shoveling interesting?

After all, a rabbi has no deep beliefs from Moses about either snow or sidewalks. But somewhere, he will find a talmudic injunction to be a good neighbour amongst the goyim, and then he will shovel his snow.

Likewise a Buddhist monk likely knows some excellent poems about snowcapped peaks in Asia, but the dharma itself motivates meditating on snow, not shoveling it off walks. How is contemplation to be reconciled with action? Does he see snow-shoveling as a walking meditation on the transience of all things? Whatever. When I walk past his meditation centre, the snow is off the walk.

Perhaps the first Catholic priest to meet the Inspector called his bishop to ask what should be done; perhaps the bishop asked Rome; perhaps Rome asked the pope; perhaps the pope asked God; perhaps the sexton just took care of it. But somebody at some level decided that the Catholics here will always and in every case shovel all of their their snow. In fact, they shovel everyone else's too. Where I walk, they shovel every square inch of the walk on the whole block and then salt it. Perhaps they see shoveling snow as a Corporal Work of Mercy? Their neighbours must be very glad to have them.

The brisk, young Baptist pastor seems to be one of the neo-Reformed tribe that is growing in numbers. In these days of SSM, his formerly cordial relationship with the Inspector and other state agents is less easy than it was. Still, he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, and he will not have his church among the slackers too unregenerate to fulfill a civic obligation. He gets the snow shoveled off the walk.

Anonymous said...


And so, after her fashion, does the vicar. Not without much help, I presume,
for there is a lot of walk for Episcopalians to shovel clear. But perhaps a resolution from the General Convention is helpful. What one really wants to know is-- what rite does she use to do it? She knows the Use of Sarum quite well, but it has no direct precedent for her to follow. One imagines that for a walking liturgy the Great Litany would be suggestive-- a vested crucifer, thurifer, boatperson, etc could certainly do the job-- but then there is still not much resonance between the rite and the work. Since social justice liturgists have neglected this, she probably calls the Buddhist monk for ideas on snow-spirituality. Whatever. There is usually at least a skinny path through the snow on the walk, and anyway the Inspector is a parishioner.

We do not debate whether there should be snow, and if so where. (Well, some grumblers do...) The snow just falls, and it falls on the just and the unjust, everywhere. We may debate how to clear the snow, but that is only helpful up to a point.

What I learn about That only somewhat theological Topic from walking down the wintry walk is this: in a COMMUNITY perspective (in which God also takes a certain interest) all the couples that I see out on the street need some kind of care that, as Glen says, engages their spirits, and all that the spirit-blind community wants is for the care to get done somehow. One imagines that the Inspector could knock on the door and say, "Is that your couple? Get them help, or else!" Or else what? Or else they will slip and fall because one did not find actually helping them to be interesting.


Bryden Black said...

If ever there was an article that spoke directly into M29, weighing its premises and consequences, this is it:

The money paragraph - in context of course - is perhaps this, coming towards the end:

“Finally, without vigorous philosophy, theology and the very life of the Church risk slipping into emotivism. In the name of being pastoral, the Church threatens to become merely indulgent, malleable, affective, and practical; in effect, anti-intellectual. This is exactly the wrong moment for that kind of mistake.”

“Emotivism”, used four times in the article, is introduced and explained earlier. It is a key insight of Alasdair MacIntyre’s from After Virtue.

Perhaps Ron you might like to note the religious order to which the writer belongs.

Bryden Black said...

I for one love your latest snow parable Bowman. Like most parables, it's clear and pointed. Thank you for your engagement(S) on this ADU site

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter,

I think that - in the case of most people on ADU who vociferously condemn the possibility of Same-Sex Blessings in our Church are primarily under the mistaken impression - to my mind and that of others in the C.of E. General Synod who have recently condemned the idea of 'Gay-conversion therapy'* - that intrinsically 'same-sex attracted persons' could be (if only they were willing) converted to become heterosexual. This assumption, however, has been roundly rejected by international experts (see today's kiwianglo article on this very subject) and. more specifically, by the July General Synod of the Church of England declaring that same-sex attraction is not an illness or an aberration, but a natural state of being for those involved.

What needs to be done - and with some recognition of the difference - is for members of our diocesan synod to admit to the FACT that same-sex attraction is not unnatural (or even ungodly) for those for whom it is an important personal reality. This would render arguments about same-sex Blessings to focus on the real issue, which is: "Can our Church bless the committed monogamous relationship of two people whose only outlet for their natural sexual attraction is to be found in a situation akin to - but not precisely the same as - heterosexual marriage? This might take the heat out of the arguments. (n.b. not all references to 'marriage' in the Bible are about heterosexual couplings. One of them is about the relationship between God and God's people in 'the marriage feast of the Lamb')

In any case, human marriage is not an 'eternal' prospect. Saint Paul is quite clear about the fact that "In heaven, there will be neither marriage nor being given in marriage".

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Ron

The problem with the argument that same sex attraction is ‘innate’ is the complete lack of biological or scientific evidence to support the claim, the opinions of the Anglican Synod not withstanding.

I know several lesbian women who are frank about the fact that for them, being in a same sex relationship was a choice, not an imperative. Of course, this is anecdotal evidence, but does serve to highlight that personal testimonies run both ways.

In addition, we are faced with another dilemma. What kind of loving God would proscribe punitive punishments for those participating in sexual acts with members of the same sex (Leviticus 18:22) if he had created them thus? It would be like separating the sheep from the goats based upon eye colour rather than the individual’s good deeds, or lack of them.

It would be capricious and irrational. The God whom we serve is not that.

So, while I hear the testimonies of those who claim an innateness to their sexual orientation, I also hear these same people telling us that gender is fluid. That our birth gender is not innate, but able to be changed seemingly at will?

At best there is confusion in our culture around sexual orientation and gender. This confusion is now flowing into the church, and in an attempt to be loving and welcoming and inclusive and…. we find ourselves caught up in all of this.

We can be loving and welcoming and inclusive without affirming that which God condemns. To that end, Motion 29 looks more like something from a political party manifesto than a theological framework predicated on the Word of God, which is just one reason amongst many why it should not be supported.

Glen Young said...

Hi Ron,

I really must question your use of the word "natural"? Are you saying that same sex attraction is a :[A] a God created natural state of being,from the beginning of creation; or {B} became a natural state of being after the "fall". The two uses of the word "natural" have diametrically oppose meanings.

Anonymous said...

Peter; Fr Ron is begging the question and, if Bowman is correct, it’s the wrong question.

“What needs to be done - and with some recognition of the difference - is for members of our diocesan synod to admit to the FACT that same-sex attraction is not unnatural (or even ungodly) for those for whom it is an important personal reality”.

In Bowman’s rectangle, the personal reality is irrelevant for many people. Pastoral and justice arguments don’t assist principled resolution. Bowman’s approach on the right question avoids this problem.


Peter Carrell said...

DEar Brendan
(1) I place a great deal of store on the evidence of gay and lesbian persons who identify themselves as never being anything but gay or lesbian.
(2) Levitical teaching can be explained as an intense concern for everyone to do their bit to increase the numbers of Israelites, including gay and lesbian Israelites ensuring they produced children by marrying against their innate nature. The sure upbringing of children requires good parenting (hence a downer on adultery) to say nothing of not sacrificing them to Molech. Children will not come into the world if men avoid making their contribution outside the period when a women is definitely no fertile and by waiting seven days after menstruation they can offer their wives and the greater good of Israel maximal opportunity for fertility.
(3) Points (1) and (2) can be made and consequential application considered without any recourse to gender fluidity considerations.
(4) Bisexual persons who leave a marriage to form a relationship with another person are breaking covenant and will be accountable to God for that.
(5) Persons of the same gender who covenant together for life in the 21st century need not be concerned about a lack of procreational contribution to the future of the planet.
(6) Point (5) may or may not be relevant to the debate but if we debate it, we can do so without pitting gender fluidity versus innateness.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

(1) Yes, I know you place ‘a good deal of store’ on the testimony of ‘ gay and lesbian persons who identify themselves as never being anything but gay or lesbian’. My point is simply that personal testimonies run both ways, and choosing whom to believe is just that – a choice. It is not evidence one way or the other.

(2) You can explain Levitical teaching anyway you like. In the text God calls homosexual relationships ‘detestable’. Perhaps they are detestable for all the reasons you outline, perhaps they are detestable because they are a corruption through sin of our God given sex drive, just as promiscuity is a sinful distortion of our God given sex drive?

We must interpret the Scriptures using other Scriptures, not relying upon our personal preferences. The weight of Scripture suggests that God views same sex relationships as something to be repented of, not something to be blessed. That much is clear.

(3) I mention confusion over gender just to give context to the larger narrative around sexual orientation and gender expression that is taking place in our culture. They are separate but related questions, and a natural extension of our lives as wilful ‘autonomous individuals’ more than fifty years on from the start of the sexual revolution.

How may Anglicans in 1960 would have believed that in 2018 Synod would be proposing the blessing of extra marital sexual relationships, and that between members of the same sex? Even then without one passage of Scripture to support this radical change to our understanding of sexual morality?

They would have thought an extra-terrestrial being had captured our imagination. Perhaps one has.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you Brendan, for your latest response. The fact that your opinion is different from that of myself, the General Synod of the Church of England - and significant others whose authority is pretty conclusive on the subject of innate sexual orientation - does not spurpise me. It has been your basic understanding all along and probably nothing would ever change you.

However, when I first as a 7/8 year-old and then as an adult male - realised my true homosexual nature I, too, because of the then common (mis)understanding of the situation, thought much the same as you do now: that others (especially members of the Church were right, and my instinct was wrong. It took a long time for me - and many other gay people - to learn from the experience and enlightenment of other people (and eventually enlightened clergy in the Church) - that there was nothing intrinsically disordered or innately wicked about my condition. I could do nothing to change my sexual orientation and would have to learn to live with it.

One of my later responses to my condition was to join a religious order - SSF - which I thought might be a way of sublimating my sexual urges. After 3 years of this discipline, and after consultation with religious leaders whom I trust, I found I could no longer hide away from the reality of this particular aspect of my life. I felt that my voluntary chastity - for the sake of sublimation - was no longer a good enough reason to deny my intrinsic sexual nature.

You have your ideas - based on your own experience as a heterosexual child of God.
I have my own knowledge and experience of myself as a homosexual child of God. The fact that I eventually married a woman (widow with 2 young children) was another way of finding comfort and support for 'my' ministry in a nuclear family, but this has not been a sexual relationship and my sexual orientation has not changed one iota.

By the way, if you are wondering; my Religious Superior, my Bishop and my wife all knew about my sexual orientation before 'taking me on' as it were. None of these close people believed my sexual orientation to be either sinful, or any barrier to our relationships in either Church or family life.

Truth exists - not only in one's beliefs but also in one's nature. I have a clear conscience about my situation. We are all sinners but redeemed. Thanks be to God!
I do, though, have a conscience about the fact that there are many gay people who have managed to attain to a state of monogamously faithful relationship with one of their own gender, with whom they feel called to spend the rest of their lives. I no longer believe that this situation is outside of the range of God's blessing, and am, therefore, doing what I can to assure them of my support by affirming Motion 29.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick and Bowman and Ron
I appreciate very much Bowman's point which (if I understand it correctly) is that marriage is marriage; and the church may not have authority to invent a marriage-like blessing for a marriage-like relationship; but the church must care for all its members and (of course, a la Archbishop Temple) its non-members.

Conversely, Ron, I am not at all happy with any slide towards a generic RB (relationship blessing). This is not supported by Scripture and has no grounds in Catholic tradition, let alone Protestant ...

However Nick and Bowman, are we not still left with questions of "who" and "what" and perhaps "how" in respect of what it means to live as a Christian in the church. If (as the RCC is doing) we have a rule (and an engendered debate!) about whether the non-annulled, remarried after divorce person may or may not receive communion, we also have a question about whether the non-blessed but nevertheless faithfully committed to one another (and perhaps also civilly married) same sex couple are able to ... receive communion ... lead the choir ... serve morning tea ... participate in the catechetical teaching of new disciples.

On such matters we may be able to go so far with careful discretion on the part of parish priest, but is there not a point where the clarification which rituals offer might assist? And is not "personal reality" a factor here, not least if the parish priest says to the couple, "you may not and you shall not do X or Y or Z"?

Yes, of course, principled resolution could be applied without recourse to considerations of pastoral care or justice. I presume this means, "conform or remain seated in the pew." Perhaps, under God, that is all we can do. Or, perhaps not? What would Jesus do? He was a bit pragmatic at times, wasn't he?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
If your nearest and dearest friend were to say to you, "I am gay, I always have been, I always will be, nothing through all my years of life has altered this orientation one bit," you cannot say back to your friend, "Well, that is an interesting testimony, but I need scientific evidence from you that you are incontrovertibly gay, then I will choose to believe you." Your friend is gay. End of story.

I do not think my reading of Leviticus is simply "personal preference". But the reading I offer is compatible with God having other reasons for being down on homosexuality, so what I have offered is not a final word!

The point about innate homosexuality is precisely that homosexuals are not then wilfully seeking some 1960s sexual fulfilment ... they are simply seeking what their heterosexual brothers and sisters seek from marriage (apart from procreation). Why must we who are conservative read bad intentions into the lives of those who cannot help being different from the majority?

As for 1960, I think you will find that murmurs of intention to better understand the situation of gays and lesbians were beginning in the Christian Western world around about then. SSM or SSB may have been unimaginable then but what was not unimaginable was that society might find better ways to respond to homosexuals than was currently the case.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Ron

I am not without sympathy for your situation, and have nothing but admiration for the integrity with which you appear to have engaged in your personal relationships. In raising the experience of others in same sex relationships, I have not sought to diminish your experience, but simply to highlight that amongst those who express same sex attraction, or are in such relationships, the question of innateness is not universally embraced or accepted.

I’m not sure why we as a church are afraid to expect celibacy for those who are same sex attracted, other than for reasons of popular culture. We are not embarrassed about expecting single women in the church, of which there are a good many for whom marriage is a remote possibility, to remain celibate. I imagine there are at least as many of these women in their late 30’s and early 40’s as there are same sex attracted individuals, and yet there is no attempt within the church to find a pathway forward for their sexual fulfillment, and a life of blessed companionship outside of marriage.

Jesus instructs each of us to pick up our cross daily and to follow him. It is impossible for others to have insight into the cross that Christ calls each of us to embrace. For some it will be celibacy, for others it may be a sexless and conflicted marriage, and God knows I have seen enough of those. Is one cross heavier than another? In all honesty who can say?

As Christians, do we offer release from the cross of a joyless marriage simply because the ‘love’ has evaporated? No, we hope and pray for the redemptive work of the cross to be eventually manifest in the lives of such a couple. The same applies to the cross of celibacy – Paul considered it to be a better state than marriage. So it would appear does Bishop Victoria, and of course we have Jesus example.

We need to apply a much more comprehensive theological and pastoral lens to same sex attraction both for the sake of those individuals involved, and for the entire church.

Anonymous said...

With respect to your practical questions, Peter, I cannot improve on Richard Hays's answers in his Moral Vision of the New Testament--

Insofar as they are based on scripture, I think that they may be acceptable to those like Nick for whom divine authority is not constrained by personal experience.

Jesus had a complex relationship with the Torah but he was no pragmatist. Faced with a question of law, he either affirmed its original intent (marriage), explained its interior meaning (purity, adultery), hinted that he himself fulfilled the law (Sabbath), or else upheld it against burdensome Pharasaic elaborations (corban).


Bryden Black said...

Since people are wishing to cite their personal experiences and putting weight upon the same, let me cite two very explicit personal experiences since they seem to be representing classes of people omitted in this discussion so far:

1. One of my dearest friends, who happens to deem himself gay (etiology unknown frankly, but as the scientists are fond of saying "multi factorial"), has painfully come to the conclusion that he must lead a celibate chaste life for the rest of his life. That is, no SSM or SSB for him, thank you!
2. A non-practicing Christian told me only 15 months ago that he wouldn't have a bar of anything to do with marriage or a blessing of his current relationship with a person of the same gender, with whom he hopes to stay for as long as they possibly can - sounded a bit like the contemporary attitude to marriage in the heterosexual world frankly! But no bits of paper for him/them!

QED: neither of these classes of people are much spoken of on ADU. Why not?! I guess because they don't fit our church's agenda. Even if for very different reasons. Yet neither represents an insignificant class of human beings ...

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bryden and Brendan
For goodness sake!
(1) We are not talking about your "classes" Bryden because (a) there is nothing in the proposal before our church which denies those who wish to follow a path of obedience which is celibacy from doing so; (b) there is nothing in the second example you cite which fits the criteria for SSB, which is about permanence of relationship for those who otherwise cannot marry.
(2) Every single woman or man who cannot find or who has not been blessed with the provision of a spouse of the opposite gender is in a similar situation to every gay or lesbian person who cannot find a lifelong partner of the same gender. There is nothing in the proposal which expects any less Christian discipline of such disciples than is currently expected.
(3) We are talking about whether this church might or might not make provision re formal prayer and thanksgiving for a person who has been blessed with the provision of a lifelong partner of the same gender; such couple wishing to commit themselves to a life of self-giving and self-sacrificing love, just like various commenters here who have given themselves in self-giving love to another person of the opposite gender.
Please, PLEASE, could we have a discussion here which treats those couples who seek SSB (and those Anglicans who support their hopes) which acknowledges best case scenarios (even if you also feel impelled to mention worst case ones), which understands that this is not about starting on a slippery slope of the kind that before you know it we will be encouraging single Christian women to sleep around. No, NO, no: that is not what the proposal means.
There are grounds for rejecting the proposal which are honourable and represent responsible theology (cf. Bowman's case for the Hays approach (also cited previously here by Bryden).) But I think the least love we could show for fellow Anglicans who feel their church is oppressive rather than liberating is that we might do better on understanding what it means to be a gay Christian who loves God just as we who are not gay do.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
If Jesus was not pragmatic, how come the church has been so pragmatic on various matters (divorce, usury, etc)? Has it failed Jesus or has it seen in Jesus a way forward on matters of human life which the non-pragmatic words of Jesus do not strictly provide for but that the mercy and grace of Jesus does?
Why, if the church has been hitherto pragmatic, is it now unable to be pragmatic?

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

I suspect that Bowman may see the point that I have been trying to make consistently on your site;which relates to the foundational issue for man. Where do all the issues which pit us against God's will arise? After 20 years working in mental health, I came to the conclusion; that to improve anyone's mental health,their spiritual well being needs serious attention. Until then, you are trying to fly kites when there is no wind."My son,attend to my words;incline thy ear to my sayings.Let them not depart from thine eyes;keep them in the midst of thine heart.For they are life unto those who find them,and health to all their flesh.Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life". Prov.4/20-23. Jesus said:"But those things which proceed out of the mouth,come forth from the heart;and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,murder,adultery,fornication,thefts,false witness,blasphemies:These are things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man".Matt.15/18-20.

Like so many other Churches, the ACANZP has fallen prey to the "social gospel of coming to Church and being saved". Yes ,Ron,Francis may have said quite correctly,that the Church is a hospital for sinners. You ask me to spell out the meaning of my blog of Feb 21 @ 9.58 PM. I was drawing the analogy, that not all those who go to hospital come out healed; as the rich young man went away sad. Ron.I have been around Hospitals long enough to know that they are places of pain,sadness and despair as well as healing.

It is to be noted:" Knowing this ,that our old man is crucified with Him,that the body of sin might be destroyed,that henceforth we might not serve sin.For he that is dead is freed from sin.Now, if we be dead with Christ,we believe that we shall also live with Him". Rom.6/6-8. To be crucified was such as cruel death that no Roman citizen was permitted to die in that way.

But Bonhoeffer reminds us:"When Christ calls a man,He bids him to come and die".ie. be crucified. Is that the "welcoming and all inclusive message of the new liturgy for SSBs.; for it must include everything about us that is the result of the fall.

So, I ask Ron,once again; When did homosexuality become natural,at the CREATION or as a result of the fall?

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

In all of your emotive appeals as to why one should bend the Canons of the ACANZP,I am yet to see one statement from you as to how it is going to help these people grow in CHRIST.So I repeat the question, I put to Ron. If these people claim that homosexuality is innate;when did it become innate;at the CREATION or at the Fall? If there claim is the former; let's see the theological proof.If it is at the latter,then why bless fallen man.

Peter, I have no friends in the ACANZP whose barrow I am pushing. I stand simply for what the Church is and always has been;One,Holy Catholic and Apostolic. It does not belong to any culture,country or century.It belongs to the Crucified and Resurrected Christ. Go tell him about innate homosexuality.

Bryden Black said...

Here's the kicker Peter - in the very language you choose to use, so naturally:

"Every single woman or man who cannot find or who has not been blessed with the provision of a spouse of the opposite gender is in a similar situation to every gay or lesbian person who cannot find a lifelong partner of the same gender": what's with the "cannot"?!

My cited examples precisely do two things:
1. The First DOES NOT WISH TO FIND ANY SUCH PARTNER MUCH AS THEY MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO ... For they realise it is NOT KOSHER. The two classes of people (hetero and homo, in your case) ARE NOT THE SAME.
2. The Second is a counterfoil to the supposed desire of those SSA men or women who wish to be 'monogamous', when either the heterosexual scene of today is mostly sequentially polygamous, as they say; or the gay scene to which I referred is just not interested at all. For that is the CONTEXT in which this entire debate has arisen; and in which the Gospel response is not SSB, a half-way house accommodation, BUT the sheer courageous purity of the First.

Now do you see the point ...?

Anonymous said...

Peter; I cannot do better than Richard Hays. I think Bowman’s rectangle and ellipses are useful because they clarify why some of us might think the pastoral/justice folk are spectacularly unpersuasive. Bowman also explains why the pastoral/justice folk are unmoved by scripture interpreted by tradition. The groups have different temperaments and likely need each other for balance. Now, you’re right that Bowman’s questions do not remove the need for significant detail (no reference to James Joyce this time!), but sadly the opportunity for that useful dialogue might have passed. Hence, the WG report could be the best option on offer. Just because I find pastoral/justice arguments sentimental and unprincipled, does not mean that I am criticising pragmatic solutions like the WG report. In my own church, we are likely to have something imposed upon us.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
Almost certainly homosexuality has been a variation within human sexuality from time immemorial. In theological terms, from "creation" and not from the time of the "fall."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
I think you hammer the present as though the past was glorious but in the past times homosexuals largely kept their thoughts to themselves somewhat repressively; often with great damage to inner health and well-being; and no particular sense of choosing to be celibate.

The present we live in is not only one in which there is (e.g.) serial monogamy; it is also one in which, thankfully, certain stigma have been removed, honesty and transparency about feelings and desires can be expressed (and, by comparison, where not possible, some terrible things happen to homosexuals). It is in this environment of responsible morality in respect of honesty in which we also have this discussion. Further, it is a discussion in which the best of permanent monogamy is being sought; and the request to the church is for prayer to be faithful and thanksgiving for finding love. Yet your commentary above seems only able to frame an understanding of what is sought in the lowest of moral evaluations, indeed, if I understand you correctly, you can only frame any aspect of what is asked of the church in terms of immorality.
Is that the best we can do in this age?
Is that the best we can offer our young people growing up: sorry mate, it is celibacy for you. Only if you choose that can we celebrate with you and share your love for God ...
What if we focused on our heterosexual failings and lifted the burden off homosexuals who, after all, are a tiny, tiny minority within the church, and yet carry the burden, it seems, of responsibility for the break up of the church.
Although justice - apparently - cannot be admitted to this discussion, it does seem somewhat unjust what is being made of the situation and the way it is being framed!

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bryden, the phrase: (1) 'One of my dearest friends' and (2) 'A non-practisinmg Christ' told me that... does not equate to personal experience of the narrsator. I believe that non-gay people have been for too long been the spokespersons for the situation of a minority of those of us whose practical experience of being gay is - surely, more convincing than the speculations of exclusive heterriosexual people.

All things being equal - in the matter of verification of personal experience - one might expect Christian LGBT people to speak of their own truth as totally objective - except, perhaps, when their livelihood is threatened by honest disclosure. I am now at a time in my life where the Church cannot take away my livelihood - because of the objection of conservative Christians to my sexual orientation. I suspect this is what is preventing many Christians - even in ordained ministry - from speaking the truth about their own sexual orientation.

You may, Brendan, fool yourself about the value of the reality of my experience, but you cannot - for me at least - try to convince me of the validity of your secondhand knowledge of the reality of homosexuality, when I know from my own stressful and hurtful experience of 'Christian' rejection of gay people and homosexuality, per se.
If you really think that homosexuality is an aberration because of The Fall; then we are all creatures subject to limitation by the same failure of perfection. We need solidairy as sinners in need of redemption - not perfect refelctions of the God who created every one of us - post The Fall, so ALL are Fallen and sinners, but Christ has redeemed us. We all need to understand that and be grateful.

BCP: "If we say we have no sin - the truth is not in us"

Jesus: "Let him who has not sinned, throw the first stone".

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Glen, it seems you are no longer working in the area of mental health. For if you were, no doubt your professional association would have already told you not to propagate your theory of homosexuality as something chosen by its subject. Most people working in the area of psychological aspects of human biology today have a much more modern understanding of the social sciences. In factsd, most professional psychiatric and psychologicasl practioners would be banned from 'conversion therapies' which have now been declasred abusive and unfit for purpose.

Anonymous said...

Peter, you use "pragmatic" five times in your 22/7:23, which is fine of course, except that I do not quite know what you mean by it.

The Jesus that I *think* you mean to invoke is neither Jewish, nor Orthodox, nor Catholic, nor Reformed. He is a mid-C20 liberal Protestant who has has a perversely low estimate of C1 Judaism, and has not read critical Judaicist scholarship on the NT. The Jewish Jesus described there was a Torah conservative, and indeed, a brilliant talmudist before the Talmud. Reading the NT with him in mind makes sense of many passages that otherwise seem either obscure or pointless.

Everybody has the same facts; somebody has gotten Jesus wrong. Martin Hengel and the Early High Christology Club say it was Adolf von Harnack. Younger evangelicals like Mike Bird seem to be following the EHCC. I hope that they, like Richard Bauckham, go on to read and engage the Jews and Judaica.

That said--

(a) Jesus and the Church taught a religion, less of compliance as an end in itself than of personal transformation by the way of the cross, using the law as an indirect guide;

(b) Jesus's clarity about, and support for, the change of heart needed is his mercy;

(c) accordingly, the flexibility that some seek was traditionally found, not by fidgeting with the law that mirrors the soul-- like Trump tweeting about fake news he is not strong enough to face?-- but by supplying daring new modes of transformative penitence-- monasticism, Lent, auricular confession, gospel-preaching, etc appropriate to the age;

(d) a high view of the law does not preclude some adaptive application of it to materially different circumstances (eg Calvin & Wright on usury);

(e) in the interests of worldly power, state agency has forced accommodation on churches in both the East and the West;

(f) Westerners (especially Protestants), having a weaker practice of soul-change than the East, have a strong inherited temptation to meet moral difficulties by moving the goal;

(g) in our time, evangelicals are converting to Orthodoxy, and seekers to both Buddhism and Islam, all in search of a traditional discipline for the turbulent heart that they do not find in a socially-fixated Western Christianity that oscillates between laxity and legalism, liberalism and conservatism, campaigning and resistance. This is tragic.

(Which explains, sensible Bosco, why I am commenting in this thread rather than in the other one. Marketing without Quality Assurance is futile.)

(h) in these circumstances, a wall of resistance to anything that looks like further easing of Jesus's demand for personal transformation is not at all surprising. After all, if one does not want to do the will of the Father, then how does one say the creed or the Lord's Prayer? And if one does want to do the will of the Father, then why would one seek to learn it from the very obviously worldly and fleshly politics of synods?

(i) in other circumstances, other things would be possible. How should a church support heart-change in Christ in our day?


Anonymous said...

"Although justice - apparently - cannot be admitted to this discussion..."

Peter, such labels in my diagram as Justice and Pastoral Care have come from your OP. They name themes that you (and I think all of us) have heard in the comments of such voices here as Bosco and Father Ron. Unsurprisingly, nobody here has opposed Justice per se or Pastoral Care per se.

But a few of us have noticed that unless one first rejects marriage as a *state of life* for its reinterpretation by an ideal of *relationship*, there is no clear ground on which to compare straight and gay couples. If there is no such ground, then one cannot agree with Bosco that there is an injustice to be resolved. And if one does not first agree with Bosco about that, then there is no point to agreeing with Father Ron's proposed remedy. This does not prove that Bosco and Father Ron are wrong; it does prove that "you can't get there from here."

These seem to be, not just logical relationships among the arguments made, but pretty good predictors of what actual people think whether they comment here, at Episcopal Cafe, at Fulcrum, or at Thinking Anglicans. Stepping back, what this suggests is that people elsewhere for whom you speak here at ADU either (a) have the *relationship* view-- perhaps without considering the *state of life* tradition-- or else (b) have come to support the proposal on the table for other reasons.

In the former case, it may be helpful to them to understand that what ultimately motivates this disagreement is that some here see a far higher pastoral value in the *state of life* view of marriage than they had imagined possible. In fairness, they might think about how deeply the lives of many children and parents depend on their adherence to this view. Not to put too fine a point on it, both of the usual sides have some deep and broad learning to do about sex, love, marriage, family, and development in our time and every time. SSA is tiny boat in a harbour where aircraft carriers leave their wakes.

And should your friends elsewhere consider the views of eg Nick and even agree with them, then they will benefit in two ways-- (c) they will discover the value of a spirituality that is beyond social politics, and (d) they will no longer be vexed by the painful misperception that their fellow Christians are trying to hurt them. This does-- with nothing more than honest speech-- everything that Bosco and Father Ron try to do with a synodical enactment. Both are real gains for any minority emerging from persecution.

The futility of the RB-Justice-Pastoral Care line of argument here is not the end of That Topic, of course. There are other arguments (b) to consider that you have raised in the past. And as Nick points out, the matter on the table is the WG proposal.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I focused "pragmatic" on the church and I note that you say, "(d) a high view of the law does not preclude some adaptive application of it to materially different circumstances (eg Calvin & Wright on usury); ". That fits with my (undefined, so not helpful) use of "pragmatic" which, indeed, is when there is adaptive application of previous commitment to law/rule to materially different circumstances.

My question about our age is, essentially, whether on homosexuality we are in a "materially different circumstance."

Your point is well made about taking care not to recast Jesus in our own image but we the church are the body of Christ in this age and not in the first century and thus to some degree we need to work through what Jesus would do and say, is doing and saying through his 21st century body. Thus I do wonder if Jesus would say some of the things that get said on ADU with specific reference to the atmosphere of oppression the church has been singularly successful in creating re homosexuality. Note the lack - apart from Ron - of self-declared homosexuals offering their own testimony here while many heterosexuals readily pronounce on their behalf.

Your point is also well made re the goal of the gospel being personal transformation and I take your point that (so to speak) a mere insertion of SSB into the ritual life of the church does not of itself equal that transformation and, indeed, may distract from it.

Nevertheless would it not be worth hearing from gay and lesbian Christians in partnerships who seek blessing (a) whether they believe (as many if not most Christian married couples believe of their marriages) that their specific relationship, necessarily a man-man or woman-woman relationship rather than "marriage as in one flesh of man and woman", is a contribution to personal transformation in Christ? And, (b) whether SSB is an important step on the pathway of being transformed in Christ in the context of relational domesticity? The personalised answers to those questions are glaringly lacking in this thread ...

Anonymous said...

Father Ron,

Thank you! You were right to commend the ACC report on the other thread. As I recall, it frames That Topic as the question: given that there will be civil SSM in Canada, what is the model for Christians in such relationships? Unlike the TEC TFSM report, which proposed a new RB-ish theology of marriage, the ACC proposal offered an array of options for consideration. This more open conversation has not been tried even there, but may be less polarising and demoralising than campaigns for single options.

Peter and Bryden,

Everyone on the blessed isles is more chaste than those here. (Maybe everyone everywhere is more chaste than those here.) But here, RB-theology is the rationale for abandoning sex to the moment's ideals for relationships, which can be very low indeed (cf #MeToo). I understand ACANZP's synod to be for traditional marriage and against vice; I also understand Bryden's concern that SSB could enable an RB-ish ethos in the church. In ordinary policymaking, the prudent response to a necessary risk is to match it with something that limits it. What might limit the risk of misunderstanding in an ACANZP with an officially positive view of civil SSM?


How do you propose that ACANZP receive and guide adult converts to the faith who are in civil SSM?

Peter and Glen,

In discussing the Fall as Christians, surely the central text is Romans 5, not Genesis 1-3. Jews, after all, do read Genesis 1-3 in synagogue, but do not explain the expulsion from Eden as the Fall we know. Romans 5 not only frames Adam for us but connects that account to the believer's calling and change in Romans 8.

None of us today needs to sort out human origins or the sexuality of prehistory to see how hearts amid the world of desires appear under an NT or pauline lens. What we can see for ourselves, someone with SSA can see as well.


Anonymous said...

"Nevertheless would it not be worth hearing from gay and lesbian Christians in partnerships who seek blessing (a) whether they believe... that their specific relationship... is a contribution to personal transformation in Christ? And, (b) whether SSB is an important step on the pathway of being transformed in Christ in the context of relational domesticity?"

Yes, Peter, bring 'em on. Also some celibates, both secular and monastic. My views have been influenced by what I have heard in many similar private conversations, and I think others would benefit.

While we wait for that, I will note here that (f) in my 23/5:01 is obviously not the fault of those with SSA, but still makes it very hard for them to testify and for those with the cure of souls to discern. I sometimes think that the Holy Spirit dumped That Topic on the West to make Protestants stop dithering about this and work out a common language of spirituality in Christ.

"The personalised answers to those questions are glaringly lacking in this thread ..."

I myself have discussed this in other recent threads.

With respect for all, your other readers on both sides are discussing an all or nothing proposal, and so are less interested in personalised answers than in all or nothing generalizations. Alas, these have little value in discussions of spirituality.


Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

Are you saying that God CREATED homosexuality???

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Thanks for salient points and pertinent questions.
The matter you raise of greatest interest to me is how to guard against the risk of misunderstanding in our church: that would be by being a church which includes and retains a range of views in a robust conversation. The proposal provides for that. Those who advocate departure of course consequentially are advocating for a restraint on the conversation by removing one set of participants in it. Those who advocate rejection of the proposal are offering no safeguard against future resumption of pressure for the proposal.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
I am saying that what we call "creation" in respect of homo sapiens is a biologically complex matter which is not consistent with making the theology of Genesis 1-3 into an account of how one day there were no human beings and the next day there were two, conjured up out of thin air. By biologically complex I mean that homo sapiens DNA bears witness to a human past in which homo sapiens evolved out of creatures we have named "Neanderthal", "Denisovans" etc - all well accounted for in a popular recent book called "Sapiens". It is almost certain in the spread of diverse permutations of humans (red hair, lefthandedness, blue eyes, etc) that as now, so then, homosexuality is part of the permutations of being human, as biologists recognise there is variety across all species.

I am not sure that it helps debate on these matters to say that "God created homosexuality" so I am not going to say that. Rather, the creation of life has thrown up immense variety through the evolutionary process and for homo sapiens that variety has led to reflection and, on some matters, moral decisions (and revisions). Thus (I mention this to illustrate my point, not to start a new debate), in some societies lefthandedness has been disapproved and then, on reconsideration, treated as morally neutral. A tendency towards violence has mostly not been accepted as "the way God made me" (though unhelpful tolerance through the centuries has been shown to those with such a tendency who have become our rulers). What we are facing in society and church is a reconsideration of the moral status of being homosexual (we seem to accept that simply being homosexual is morally neutral) and "active" homosexuality (we are in debate about that, though, in Western societies, the secular judgement is generally that that is also morally neutral).

Glen Young said...

Hi Ron,

Like you, I am in the position of being able to speak the truth about the CHAOS that is called mental health; without my living being taken from me.
Conversion belongs to God and not Caesar; because it is only God who can change the spirit.

Brendan McNeill said...

“What we are facing in society and church is a reconsideration of the moral status of being homosexual (we seem to accept that simply being homosexual is morally neutral) and "active" homosexuality (we are in debate about that, though, in Western societies, the secular judgement is generally that that is also morally neutral).” PC


I regret to inform you that the future relationship between the church and culture is not going to look as it did in the past. The Anglican church, if it is to survive intact as the household of God, must forego all desire to remain culturally acceptable, and recognise that out of necessity God is calling us to become counter cultural. I am realistic enough to recognise this may be too great a step for Anglicanism to contemplate.

Our culture has become a swamp of moral relativism. It has embraced an orthodoxy that is not just ambivalent towards the Christian faith, but in a very brief space of time has become explicitly hostile. Peter, I don’t know how long it has been since you worked in a secular role, but there is a new Sheriff in town, and he demands conformity not just in behaviour, but also in belief.

Having our church cede to the demands of the Sherriff will not endear us to him, or to those in his thrall until they own us completely. There will be new demands that eventually even you will decide cannot be met. Appeasement and compromise has never produced liberty either in politics or in the realm of the spirit.

SSB is a new expression of an age-old struggle for the very soul of the Anglican church.

Sadly, it seems many within the church view this as moral progress.

In the words of the Psalmist: “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Cultural accommodationism is always at work in the church and sometimes the church has resisted heroically and sometimes it has yielded. Most times, of course, the church (especially the Anglican church) has steered a middling pathway.

It is obviously not clear to you so I have equally obviously not clearly communicated but my motivation for supporting the proposal is not cultural accommodation but pastoral accommodation - there are gay and lesbian persons in our church and some are civilly married, and some wonder whether the climate of the church is simply too hostile for them to remain (e.g. because, in terms of your comment, their desire for a blessing is all too much and represents some terrible betrayal of the gospel), and I think the proposal might take the hostility down a notch or two and might just serve those very brave gay and lesbian Anglicans who hang in with us even though there are quite a few reasons for them to leave and shake the dust off their feet.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Note the lack - apart from Ron - of self-declared homosexuals offering their own testimony here while many heterosexuals readily pronounce on their behalf......

"Nevertheless would it not be worth hearing from gay and lesbian Christians in partnerships who seek blessing (a) whether they believe (as many if not most Christian married couples believe of their marriages) that their specific relationship, necessarily a man-man or woman-woman relationship rather than "marriage as in one flesh of man and woman", is a contribution to personal transformation in Christ? And, (b) whether SSB is an important step on the pathway of being transformed in Christ in the context of relational domesticity? The personalised answers to those questions are glaringly lacking in this thread ..." - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Thank, Peter, for this admission - that I may be the only self-confessed 'same-sex-attracted' person to contribute to the arguments on this thread. I think the reasons for that ought to be obvious:

1. Because of the negative view of homosexual relationship that are put out by the vast majority of your correspondents, any S.S.A person with any sort of ministerial responsibility in ACANZP might justifiably be afraid to offer their own story - for fear of the threat of being outed and the consequent loss of livlihood.

2. Clergy who may be SSA or bisexual, who have quietly and conscientiously carried out their ministry to the best of their ability without exposure and without causing scandal in the Church may just not be disposed to put themselves at risk from the abuse they might be subjected to on this blog and from any public exposure of their innate sexuality.

3. As I have indicated earlier on this thread; my own sexual orientation has been made know to my religious superiors - without any suggestion that my sexuality is ungodly or deleterious of the Church's understanding of such matters. I suggest there are Anglican bishops around the world who are quite au fait with the SSA nature of some of their clergy. What they desire is that there not be any cause for scandal in the behaviour of such baptised and ordained members of the Body of Christ.

There have always been gay clergy. What is possible now - about the openness of the Church's attitude towards such clergy, is that there is now no need for hypocrisy to be practised among a category of faithful servants of God and the Church who, because of the puritanical and outdated attitudes of past generations of conservative Church Leaders.

As I have stated already in my comments above, the reasons given in the BCP for the institution of marriage include (1) procreation, (2) the avoidance of promiscuous sex, and (3) the mutual support and companionship of both.

Surely, if promiscuous sex is one of the problems in binary relationships, it ought to be considered the greatest problem (as witness the incidence of AIDS which has now spread to heterosexuals) for homosexuals.

Does the Church have a logical ministry here - in encouraging S.S. couples to avoid promiscuous relationships by entering into a faithful partnership akin to marriage? Would Jesus reject such a 'saving grace'?

Civil society gets the message. How long will it take the Church?

Brendan McNeill said...


It would stretch credulity to believe your pastoral accommodation of SSB is not first predicated on cultural accommodation.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
It stretches my credulity that we would run church in such a way that gay and lesbian members feel intimidated into silence re their situation in life; including possibly keeping lifelong relationships secret; though more likely simply leaving the church.

Individual members of the church may have arrived at their situation in life through "cultural accommodation" (more than a few remarried after divorce persons would likely deserve that judgement; to say nothing of married couples who, say, postpone children for ten years after their wedding ...) but they present to pastors as people and to their situation in life, not to their (so you or I judge) cultural accommodation do we respond, pastorally.

Brendan McNeill said...


You cannot usefully conflate the difference between Bill and Jean not having children following their marriage for reasons that are unknown except to God, and Bill and Bill having their extra-marital sexual relationship celebrated and blessed by the Anglican priest at the 10:00 am Sunday service.

Sadly, this is the level of ‘debate’ the proponents of SSB have been reduced to. Unable to justify SSB theologically, we are being told: ‘look at that other person’s sin over there’ and stop complaining. The clear inference being that it would be hypocritical for anyone to point out homosexual sin when we are all sinners.

But where does that approach leave us except to completely erase sin and repentance from the church’s vocabulary? But I’m forgetting – there is only one sexual sin you are seeking to liberate into the life of the church.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
You raised a question about cultural accommodation.
I responded by pointing out that if are having "a go" at either homosexuals seeking blessings or those promoting blessings or those (such as myself) willing to see a place of permission in our church for such on the grounds of "cultural accommodation" then please, could we also acknowledge that other Christians, in heterosexual marriages, may also be acting out of cultural accommodation (and I gave as one example those who marry but then choose to not have children - this could be to pursue career aspirations - a cultural accommodation at variance with "be fruitful and multiply).
If, however, you do not wish to be consistent re having a go at fellow Anglicans over cultural accommodation, that is your choice. I then made the point that pastors respond to people as they present themselves and tend not to judge people for some perceived prior cultural accommodation.

So, please do not make the leap you made to accusing me of then conflating two situations re behaviour. That is simply unfair on your part and makes me inclined to consider ceasing from responding to your points if doing so only leads to further and unrelated critiques.

You seem unable to make an imaginative leap into the situation in life of gay and lesbian people within a church which, on your arguments, must have a negative view of any attempt on their part to enter into a loving, committed relationship. Do you have any idea of the hostility of your remarks here towards people who, in my experience, are fragile around the question of whether they are or are not welcome to be who they are in the life of the church? Nor do you show any appreciation of the possibility of a theology of SSB which is part of an offer from the church to regulate same sex desire in a world which relentlessly pushes the possibility of acting on that desire in ways which constitute promiscuity and casual sex. A theology - if you like - of the lesser of two wrongs. It may not be a theology which is much good in your eyes. It may not be a theology in my eyes which I actually agree with. But it is not a theology of a slippery slope towards justifying every possible sexual sin.

I am about to bring this thread to a close anyway - it is now consuming too much of my time - but I am open to you offering something fairer and more constructive than your last comment which, frankly, is deeply unfair to a number of people in this church, including myself.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

Thank you for the opportunity to engage in debate around what is perhaps the most significant change to be contemplated in the life of the church in my living memory. It’s not surprising that it has generated considerable interest from all sides.

I wonder if the conversation would have been much shorter, if your public support for SSB had been based upon your firm theological convictions. Then we could have simply moved on. But because you agree that homosexual activity is sinful, and you would not personally perform SSB, many of us have wondered if we might not persuade you to align your public stance with your personal convictions. We have wondered how you reconciled this moral dichotomy; to publically advocate for a sexual activity you firmly believed sent Christ to the cross, along with all sin.

As to your statement concerning the ‘unfairness’ of my comments I offer the following thoughts. If I have misquoted you, or been wrong in any statement of fact, then I will be pleased to apologise. However, unfairness is a subjective term, and like beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.

There are many in our church who think it is unfair that the debate about SSB has been forced upon them. Must they really consider accepting a sexual practice that is explicitly condemned in Scripture, has no place in 2000 years of church history, and up until 40 years ago was illegal in New Zealand?

The conversations I have had with people since raising the topic of SSB in church last Sunday would flow about 10 to 1 in that direction. People on both sides of this question feel unfairly treated.

The ones most unfairly treated are those same sex attracted young people I referred to some time ago on this blog. Motion 29 says both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to them regarding the legitimacy of their sexual desires before God. How have we let that happen? If we want to be upset, therein lies the greatest cause for offense.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Ron for your attempted response @ February 22, 2018 at 11:43 PM, in which you reveal some interesting and not unimportant things.

Your peremptory dismissal of the respective voices of two gay men whom I know well, just because they were mediated via me - when neither would be seen dead on this ADU site - and perhaps just because their views differ so basically from your own, is frankly unjust. Their voices are just as personal as your own in the event, and certainly NOT “speculations”.

Far more important of course is whether any such voices, your own as well, match the will of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, or are just this - merely personal voices/choices. Somewhere along the line, if reason is to have a role in our moral deliberations and moral discourse, we cannot ALL be right! Yet this is exactly what ACANZ&P is seeking to institutionalize ...

Peter Carrell said...

It has been a very stimulating thread, this one of now around 180 comments, and I thank you for your contributions. But I am now behind on some important, deadlines-looming things and I need to stop this discussion. I write this c. 3.20 pm Friday 23 March NZ time. I am likely to end this thread around midday tomorrow Saturday 24 March NZ time.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Brendan
Thank you for your conciliatory tone.
Briefly, my public support for the possibility of SSB in the life of our church, according to the constrained proposal currently under consideration, despite my not personally supporting SSB, rests on two considerations in particular:
(1) That others in this church offer a theological support for SSB (e.g. that where love is, there is God; that God blesses covenanted relationships) which is theological support, even if, in my personal judgement it is insufficient.
(2) I think it better - pragmatically - that we are a church with some space for different convictions about SSB to be expressed, including in practice and not just in discussion. The alternative, that we prohibit SSB (in some "once and for all" manner), will not, in my view curtail the desire for them, which will continue to be pressed, continue to soak up energy, etc; and, as I have been emphasising here in recent comments, is almost certain to contribute to our church being viewed as a place which is hostile to rather than hospitable to gay and lesbian Anglicans and likely-to-be-Anglicans.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter & Friends, for a stimulating discussion on this thread. This is my final comment on it.


Bryden Black said...

I’ve no idea where you got this idea from, Peter: “I think you hammer the present as though the past was glorious ...” Five things:

1. What I hammer regarding the past is a series of attempted answers (provided most recently by the likes of Polanyi and MacIntyre) on how we have reached the present cultural place, where there is an extraordinary mixture of confused moral discourse and practice. Not an unimportant item of research for the western Church I fancy, if our true missionary praxis is to gain better traction.
2. You continue however: “... but in the past times ...” Interestingly, one might try to be more specific re what past times: Ancient Greece and Rome, Jacobean, Victorian, 1960s when I was at school. For re this very last, we knew full well in our boarding house which three boys were expressing gay tendencies, among 50 boys in any one year, and over five years. And how were they treated by their peers? Not with derision nor mocked nor bullied; but with studied indifference, as if the sky were not always grey nor always blue in the British Isles! Yes; I’m serious! It was no big deal among us. One has gone on to become a Professor of Psychiatry, another an art dealer in the capital, and I’ve lost touch with the third.
3. “... in this environment of responsible morality in respect of honesty ...”: I had to smile wryly when you said “environment of responsible morality”, for to what exactly are we responding? Notably, in a post Freudian world? And notably in a world where ‘autonomous experience’ has become the touchstone. Sure, you go on to say “in respect of honesty”. Yet it’s exactly here that I’ve invoked my Basic Question #3; “How do we become genuinely mistaken?” The emphases being again on “become” and “genuine”: an historical process that is both individual and structural, both within a single life-time and over some three centuries (the latter if we dare to probe); yet frankly our “honesty” is a mixed, alloyed bag - if we are truly honest and if we dare to probe both individually and structurally. That’s the point of all three of my Basic Questions in fact.
4. “ ... indeed, if I understand you correctly, you can only frame any aspect of what is asked of the church in terms of immorality.” Well; you should know better than that having reviewed my God’s Address—Living with the Triune God, and with my having strongly endorsed Bowman’s emphasis on spirituality and our due human transformation in Christ Jesus. What tosh at that point!
5. While there’s much more I could isolate and refute, I’d lastly address the matter of “justice”. Love and truth are, as I’ve said often before, inextricably intertwined for the Christian Faith. While it’s easy for some to say seemingly, “Where love is, God is”, I’d respectfully still ask the basic question: What constitutes the truly loving thing to do, to be? The answer to this question is perhaps the nub of our current ‘dilemmas’. And if we are to approach anything like a due Christian answer, at least two things are justifiably to be also addressed. What constitutes human being? And, secondly, one key feature of personhood, at least in the Augustinian-Thomist tradition—which after all actually bequeathed unto human history the very idea of person—is again the complex intertwining of being + knowledge + will, lover + loved + love, mind + knowledge + love, memory + knowledge + will, all the key ruminations of Augustine’s De Trinitate as the dimensions of subjectivity and personhood. Just so, to escape the hard questions as GS and M29 and the WG Reports have done is not only to shirk our Christian duty; it is to precipitate potential pathways that can only end in tears, institutionally, historically. And that really seems to me to be the most unjust of all possible worlds. For “a house divided against itself may not stand.”

Bryden Black said...

Bowman, you ask @ February 23, 2018 at 7:57 AM: “Bryden, How do you propose that ACANZP receive and guide adult converts to the faith who are in civil SSM?” Well; here goes ...

Mercifully Bowman, I’ve been a minister in Africa where polygamous marriages were common. And here we’ve some parallels - perhaps ... In some places, as we know, European missionaries forced divorce upon all but the first wife. But that only spread human misery in the fulness of time, with exposure of other ex-wives to real lack of social support and even non-identity. The key seems to have been sheer providence, the gracious allowance of time to work its way into and through history. Here the emphasis is upon the next generation of Christians, and the next, for them to seek monogamy, marriage between one man and one woman. “Chete” (Shona!)

I guess our current social experiments, secular and ecclesial, will just have to undergo the test of time. I give it approximately three generations at most - should the Lord tarry! For by then the strength of providence will become evident. Back to ER’s Church: Providence engages with human beings with as much mercy as judgment, with as much perdition as pardon.

And all the while I agree wholeheartedly with your vision of the Church’s true vocation to be worshipful transformation unto the Image of Christ. It’s not for nothing that one of my mantras is Rom 12:1-2.

Anonymous said...

"I write this c. 3.20 pm Friday 23 March NZ time. I am likely to end this thread around midday tomorrow Saturday 24 March NZ time."

I always knew Peter was an advanced thinker but I didn't know he was also a Time Lord. Before the Rev Dr Who closes this thread, could he please give me some tips for the racetrack over the next four weeks (earth time) and for my pension fund?

D. Alek

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

So,I leave you re-arranging the deck chairs on the proverbial Titanic,as the band plays on; as you sail into uncharted waters with neither compass or sextant to guide you.The ACANZP has long forgotten which port it set sail from and appears to have lost any idea of its destination.But as one Bishop is so keen on saying: "we need to be on the right side of history".And if you sail far enough,you may well find some Denisovans.

I, for my part, am happy to come to Christ as a "little child" accepting that Moses, Jesus and Paul were correct in stating that death came into through Adam sinning; and that through Christ,life came. If we are here through evolution,and there was no Adam and Eve,no fall and no sin; then what is the value of Eucharist. If that is the God of the present ACANZP,I am happy out of it.

Peter Carrell said...

Whoops, D. Alek, those dates in March are when I have my check up for mental agility :)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
We meet Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
And in that breaking we remember with thanksgiving that Jesus died for our sin.
Nothing I write here denies that humanity is sinful and in need of a Saviour.
Everything I write here is about living life with our Lord who knows us and loves us and guides us to eternal habitations.
That the human journey turns out to be longer than we may have thought deepens the mystery of God's work as Creator and Redeemer.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
Yes, I see what you are saying but I remain wondering why you can not find one good thing to say about SSB - not one. Despite your and your schoolmates' lovely "indifference" to gayness in a former era, you either cannot or will not be indifferent to its manifestation in the life of the church.

When I think about partnered gay and lesbian friends in church, how they remain somewhat defiantly committed to being Christian in a hostile community, both within a church which will not affirm their partneredness and outside the church which will not affirm their Christianness, I am wondering if they are as far removed from the spiritual transformation of Romans 12:1-2 as your analysis concludes. Are they as "mistaken" as you with Augustine and Bowman make out?! After all, such Christians are strikingly committed to Christ against the mould!

We may be three generations from demise but I suggest that is so even if we shut down the matter of SSB and never spoke of it again.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter,

If I ay be permitted one final commernt on this threade...

One of the reasons I will not be at the diocesan synod on 3 March is the fact that it will be conducted in a place where I have found hostility towards SSA people and the prospect of the Church blessing their faithful monogamous relationships.

I pray that God's will may be done - and be seen to be done - by our Synod. And I want to thank you for your openness to the possibility of the passage of Motion 29.

Jesu, mercy; Mary pray!

Bryden Black said...

You ask a good and reasonable question Peter; and the answer is simple, and is already within my previous comments: the Church is properly the first fruits of the new creation, the kingdom of God. Meanwhile, the institution will attempt all sorts of accommodations as it providentially passes through history - Papal States, Benedictine communities, Establishment Alliances, Amish Communities, Mt Athos, SSB/SSM, et al. But as I said elsewhere, these all will meet with as much mercy as judgment, as much perdition as pardon.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
Thanks and, understood!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
At last, we are agreed!
And, indeed, the church is a funny old thing :)

Peter Carrell said...