The Path After Pilling

Folks, this is an important blog post. If possible, I would like you to share it as widely as possible.

Pilling – What Will Happen

Fork in the RoadI have now confirmed from a number of sources what the Pilling Report is going to recommend. The final draft is ready and it will propose that the Church of England introduce some form of liturgy that will bless same-sex relationships. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what the outcome of the committee’s deliberations will be – This is not spin, it is not trying to influence the outcome, it is the real deal. Whilst the committee will not recommend adapting our services of Holy Matrimony to include same-sex marriages, I am led to understand that it will propose a formal rite that will provide an alternative for those in a formal same-sex union (Civil Partnership or Marriage) on the basis that we cannot presume such a relationship is sexual. Once that happens we will have formally declared same-sex unions to be holy. In the Church of England our liturgy is our doctrine and the moment we have a rite that in any way affirms same-sex relationships then we will have fundamentally changed what we believe.

This means that the Church of England is at a cross-roads. For the first time ever we will call that which is sin holy. We will bless sin. There are no two ways about it – we are at a defining moment for the Christian witness in this country. It is not like other key decisions in the past. On divorce there have always been reasons to validate a separation of two people where adultery or abuse has occurred. On women’s ministry we have always recognised God’s call on women and the Bible has clear examples from Deborah to Phoebe and Priscilla (and not forgetting Mary) of those called to serve, to prophecy, to proclaim the truth. The argument has not been about whether God calls women but in what capacity.

But on sexual behaviour the case is clear. The Bible unambiguously and unreservedly reserves sexual expression for within the marriage of a man and a woman, rooting its importance not just in the personal relationship between the two involved and its procreative outcome, but also the way in which it is a real physical icon of the spiritual union between Christ and his Church. There is no ambiguity on this, no reservation, no disagreement amongst all the main Christian denominations, Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox. It has been the universal witness of the Church down the years and it remains so today.

So we are faced with the situation of the Church of England House of Bishops choosing to authorise liturgy to bless that which is sinful. It is a defining moment, a point of reckoning. It is the junction at which we contemplate the possibility that the Church that sent missionaries around the world, that evangelised peoples and nations and tongues, that had its leading lights martyred in every century for preaching grace and holiness, that same Church now blaspheming the Holy Spirit, calling that which is sin, holy. It is almost inconceivable,and yet here we are.

What the Bishops Must Do Next

Bishop's MitreThe entire College of Bishops, not just Diocesans but every Suffragan as well, will meet on 27 January 2014 to discuss the report. This is likely to be an emotional event but it will be the first collective opportunity for Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Bishops to clearly, gently but firmly say that they will have no part in this. It is one thing for Bishops to ignore or turn a blind eye to clergy living in sexual relationships outside of marriage, or choosing not to notice when a priest performs an unauthorised same-sex blessing that goes under the media radar. It is an entirely other thing for the Bishop to himself authorise a rite for such things.

This will be the moment for collegiality to end and for responsibility for discipleship to begin. This will be the moment for Bishops to stand up and be counted. This may yet be the moment for Bishops to choose if the purple shirts, the authority, the status are worth compromising on this issue. For there can be no doubt about it, if the House of Bishops endorses same-sex blessings in any form it will be an ecumenical disaster and every single Bishop, Diocesan, Suffragan or Retired who does not stand rigorously, firmly and most importantly publicly against it will be as culpable for the decision as those who eagerly endorse it. There is no escaping this moment of decision, no pleading pastoral care or sensitivity. If you do not oppose the blessing of sin then you support it.

It may be that the College and House of Bishops will draw back from the brink, but what if they do not? What then? Well for starters, orthodox Bishops can refuse to recognise these rites and prohibit them in their Dioceses. That would be a bold stand, but a correct one. So often Bishops use the fact that they are Princes in their own Dioceses to exercise power for better or for worse – now is the time to use that power to refuse to compromise. And they should go further – our two Archbishops are both Evangelicals. The great episcopal offices, Winchester, Durham, London, are all held by men who are orthodox on this issue. Why is it inconceivable that they should unite to reject this proposal that would be so damaging for our relationships and our gospel witness in this country?

And the question that has to be asked of those in senior (and very senior) positions is this – what is your witness to the truth worth? What are you prepared to lose? What are you prepared to give up in order not to compromise that which you know to be true? Every day around the world Christians are murdered in brutal and horrific ways, persecuted for simply wanting to share the gift of new life in Jesus – the GAFCON gathering in Nairobi last week heard many of their tales.. In the past century across Europe we have seen under fascist and communist dictatorships the most atrocious attempts to wipe out those who love and serve Christ. Do we really think the loss of position, the disdain of some in the public sphere a price that is not worth paying?

If there is a moment for Bishops to take seriously their call to guard the truth that has been entrusted to them, this will be it. It will also be the moment when the private messages of support and concern for those men and women who despite being same-sex attracted have lived lives (sometimes at great struggle and personal cost) of chastity will be tested and found true or wanting. For any Bishop who privately supports LGB clergy like myself living lives of Biblical holiness not to speak out publicly against the Church of England endorsing same-sex blessings is for them to betray us. They will be saying to each and every one of us that our choices, our struggles, were not necessary, that in fact we could have given in a long time ago and sought a same-sex relationship. It will be the moment when they, willingly or unwillingly, abandon us and cast us to the edges.

This is the decision to be made by every Bishop, every one of them. They will need to choose where they stand. Sadly this issue is the defining point of Biblical fidelity in our generation, the outworking of underlying attitudes towards God’s revelation, and our leaders, all the way up the ladder, will need to choose whether to be compromised in their response or whether they will be known for standing firm on this issue whatever the cost. Whatever the Cost. Whoever they are.

What We Must Do Next

Empty ChurchThe choices as to what to do in response to the House of Bishops endorsing Pilling are not just in the hands of the Bishops. They are the choices to be made by clergy and laity up and down the country, in a myriad of situations. They are the decisions, some of them brave, that need to be taken to make sure that we are seen to be and understood to be faithful to the Biblical witness on marriage, regardless of the cost.

First, where we find ourselves in a Diocese where a Bishop stands firmly opposed to this revisionist disaster, we must give our Ordinary our full public support on this issue. Those Bishops who choose to publicly oppose this blessing of sin must be given our loyalty and our resources. They will face great opposition, will be demonised both within and beyond the Church of England and many may pay a professional price for the stand they take. This should bother us. This should stir us.

It may mean that where some Anglicans have split themselves off from a Diocese they need to return to it. If we deeply care about the evangelisation of our nation and if we believe that Anglican structures are one of the best way to do this, we have to come together. We cannot be divided, we cannot with our lips say we support our local Bishop but with our lines of accountability deny it. This reconciliation will be a powerful witness, but it will also be a humbling moment for some. However, the putting aside of minor differences  to come together in unity on this issue will make a clear statement that this is the defining issue for our generation.

Second, where we find ourselves in a Diocese with a Bishop who goes along with this unGodly innovation, whether willingly or under sufferance, we must make our rejection of that choice known. Many of the orthodox Anglican churches are the financial bedrock of their Dioceses and we should not be afraid to unambiguously withdraw funding for any Diocesan function where a Bishop does not stand up for Biblical truth on this issue. Where necessary we can divert funds to our orthodox brothers and sisters who still need central funding to support their Gospel ministry.

What will the Bishops do when this happens? Some will do nothing, some may choose to do everything and anything. It will be particularly hard for those Bishops who do not support same-sex blessings but feel they cannot speak out when orthodox parishes suddenly withdraw funding. But why can they not speak out? Who do they fear, God or man?

Third, in some circumstances we must consider realignment. Yes, you heard me right, the Evangelical arch-critic of border-crossing, the man who in his time has argued against rogue ordinations and churches splitting off simply because they disagree with the Bishop on a particular issue is advocating realignment. But really this should be no surprise. We have seen in the USA and Canada the necessity for parishes to remove themselves from Dioceses where same-sex blessings have been supported. It is a simple issue of Christian witness – we will do far better disciplining people to live lives of holiness if we are seen to not be connected with local leaders who endorse sin. That is different from being part of a wider institution where the local leadership rejects such unGodly innovation – it is not a compromise to serve under a Bishop who like you will have nothing to do with endorsing sin – such an action is not compromise but rather true canonical loyalty to your Father in God.

Given that such realignment may be necessary, thank God for GAFCON and the FCA. Thank God that there are still orthodox Anglicans across the whole globe who, in their own contexts, know what it is to suffer for standing firm for Christ. Thank God that they are willing to stand with us in our hour of need, in the moment where we stand for Biblical truth. Thank God that we can repent for the times when we have been less than supportive of their struggle to be faithful to God. What happened in Nairobi last week is crucially important for orthodox Anglicans in England – it tells us that we are not alone, not alone if our Bishop decides to endorse the blessing of sin, not alone if our Bishop cannot have the courage of his convictions to join us in condemning what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Fourth, on a personal note, we must support those men and women who do the hard work of coming alongside those who are LGB and choose to live a life of Biblical holiness. We must publicly support those who are willing to be public witnesses that God does have something good for same-sex attracted people who surrender their lives to him. It is simply not good enough for our leaders, Bishops and others, to privately offer support but refuse to be clearly identified publicly with those who are doing the hard work on the ground. It is not good enough to say that such ministries are vital but then to refuse to resource them for fear of what others might think. If we believe that God has called us to lives of faithfulness in either marriage or affirmed singleness then how can it ever be wrong to support those who aim to encourage others to do just that? We simply must put our money where our theology is. It is time to be known not just for what we believe but for how we sacrifice to help people live that out.

The Moment of Decision

For the followers of Jesus down the years there have been clear moments of decision time and time again. For Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church it was the choice to reject the theology of compromise and to affirm that the State was not more important than the Ekklesia. For Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer it was the choice to suffer death rather than compromise on the simple truth that God saves utterly through grace. For the early Christian martyrs it was the decision that only Jesus was Lord, not Caesar. For the Hebrew princes it was the choice that they would serve YHWH whatever was thrown at them, or what they were thrown into.

In the midst of the storms (and we’ve seen them physically here in England today) we know that God is faithful to those who choose to follow him, even at the cost of everything. We know that the world measures evidence of favour with the signs of influence and prosperity, but the eternal weighing scales mark out God’s pleasure with us on a completely different basis. It matters not if the world thinks we are loons, if it labels us bigots or philistines, for the world hates all those who would give up everything to follow Jesus. What matters is that when we stand in front of the Throne we will hear the cry “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

This morning’s readings and collect in our cycle of prayer are so pertinent for our situation. Even the reading from the Apocrypha speaks deeply into our situation.

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens  (he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it  (he established it;
he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!):
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in chaos.’
I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right.

Assemble yourselves and come together, draw near, you survivors of the nations!
They have no knowledge—those who carry about their wooden idols,
and keep on praying to a god that cannot save.
Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the Lord?
There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Saviour;
there is no one besides me.

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.’

Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength;
all who were incensed against him shall come to him and be ashamed.
In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall triumph and glory.
Isaiah 45:18-26

Then the righteous will stand with great confidence
in the presence of those who have oppressed them
and those who make light of their labours.
When the unrighteous see them, they will be shaken with dreadful fear,
and they will be amazed at the unexpected salvation of the righteous.
They will speak to one another in repentance,
and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say,
‘These are persons whom we once held in derision
and made a byword of reproach—fools that we were!
We thought that their lives were madness
and that their end was without honour.
Why have they been numbered among the children of God?
And why is their lot among the saints?
So it was we who strayed from the way of truth,
and the light of righteousness did not shine on us,
and the sun did not rise upon us.
We took our fill of the paths of lawlessness and destruction,
and we journeyed through trackless deserts,
but the way of the Lord we have not known.
What has our arrogance profited us?
And what good has our boasted wealth brought us?

‘All those things have vanished like a shadow,
and like a rumour that passes by;
like a ship that sails through the billowy water,
and when it has passed no trace can be found,
no track of its keel in the waves;
or as, when a bird flies through the air,
no evidence of its passage is found;
the light air, lashed by the beat of its pinions
and pierced by the force of its rushing flight,
is traversed by the movement of its wings,
and afterwards no sign of its coming is found there;
or as, when an arrow is shot at a target,
the air, thus divided, comes together at once,
so that no one knows its pathway.
So we also, as soon as we were born, ceased to be,
and we had no sign of virtue to show,
but were consumed in our wickedness.’
Because the hope of the ungodly is like thistledown carried by the wind,
and like a light frost driven away by a storm;
it is dispersed like smoke before the wind,
and it passes like the remembrance of a guest who stays but a day.

But the righteous live for ever,
and their reward is with the Lord;
the Most High takes care of them.
Therefore they will receive a glorious crown
and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord,
because with his right hand he will cover them,
and with his arm he will shield them.
Wisdom 5:1-16

Almighty God,
who built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone:
so join us together in unity of spirit by their doctrine,
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Brothers and sisters, this is our defining moment. It doesn’t matter whether you are the lowliest in the pews or the resident of a Palace on the south bank of the Thames (and both will be reading), now is the time to decide whether you will let the Church of England bless that which is sin and turn its back on thousands of years of holiness amongst the people of God. I fear there is a great danger we are all going to be caught utterly unawares and have foisted on us a liturgy that is an Anglican fudge, permitting, by the back door, gay sexual unions to be recognised by the Church of England. Once the door is opened it will be pushed wide over and the game is over. Any liturgy which does not demand of its participants a vow in front of God to remain celibate for the rest of their lives and has pastoral discipline around that (in the same way that we take adultery seriously) is a capitulation.

The next few months may very well tear us apart as a Church, but they will also define each one of us as Christians and our willingness to put God first. It’s now up to us. May we not be found wanting.

Posted in Church of England, Same-Sex Blessings
  • David Hussell

    Thank you for this Peter. It is my opinion, as a traditional, orthodox Anglican, that within a decade, perhaps less, denominations will divide. Individuals will align themselves on one side or the other. Splits will occur. Subsequently the faithful Churches will grow and the revisionist ones will wither. The US and Canada are the signposts.

  • bernard.randall

    Thanks, Phil – I think you’re correct in what you say.

    However, I’m not sure that you’ve quite addressed my problem, because you talk about attributing evil to God – i.e. a person, with intentionality.

    But the context of Jesus talking about the sin against the Holy Spirit is that he was accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub – his good act was attributed to evil power. The act obviously isn’t a person.

    By way of analogy, if I may, Christians are forbidden to murder, because it is an evil act; yet some Christians might well argue that assassinating an evil dictator is a good act. Are they thereby committing a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? We wouldn’t normally say so, I think.

    It seems to me that there is a difference between calling a manifestly good act, evil, and calling an evil act, good – though I admit I’m struggling to express exactly why that is.

  • 6 days ago, I wrote:

    ‘Unfortunately, there is an historical pattern to this moral decline.

    1. A definitive HoB commissioned report is produced exploring both sides of a controversy and their underpinning theological arguments. The resulting recommendations are equivocal, but insist that any official support for same-sex marriage would require a change to Canon Law.

    2. Ecclesiastical elision: in spite of the equivocal tone of the report, a private member’s motion is introduced and carried by a strong majority stating that Synod ‘considers that there are circumstances in which the relationship of a homosexual couple may be blessed in church’.

    3. On pastoral grounds, the official position is revised to both support a fundamental divergence from one or more aspects of God’s intention for sexual union .
    For example, look at ‘Some Issues in Human Sexuality: 1.2.48: The Church’s official position is that, while God’s intention is that marriage should be for life, that fact should not be seen as an automatic bar on re-marriage in church in the lifetime of a former spouse because there are circumstances in which this is the best Christian response to a less than ideal situation.’

    So, let me paraphrase this as future doublespeak for civil partnership church blessings: ‘The Church’s official position is that, while God’s intention is that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that fact should not be seen as an automatic bar on blessing civil partnerships in church because there are circumstances in which this is the best Christian response to a less than ideal situation.’
    4. Issue a handy guide for clergy, outlining the key questions for incumbent (with whom the final decision rests) to ask of civil partnered couples who desire a church blessing.
    5. Decorate the churches in readiness for an influx of impenitent gay activists declaring that the church’s revision is an admission of wrong and demanding church marriage for gays as reparation for past homophobia.

  • Patrick

    These are, I think, all valid questions. But there do exist some couples for whom the arrangement you suggest regarding permanent celibacy is precisely what they intend, so in that regard there is no reason, strictly speaking, why a proposed rite *couldn’t* be consistent with the existing doctrinal position. I respect that such a rite may be asking something unrealistic for many or even most; but that in itself is not a reason for a formal rite to be deemed unthinkable, since it remains not unrealistic for some. (The same principle has been used to defend monastic vows in the past.) So I’m not sure that the whole notion of a rite for those explicitly celibate topples simply because a proposed rite that *is* consonant with the Church’s doctrine doesn’t happen to be what lots of gay couples want.

    I agree with you, however, that public assurance of the celibate intention of the couple entering into the putative rite will remain of critical importance. My uncertainty is what we might deem as ‘public assurance’ for this purpose. From what you have, Pilling seems to be reckoning we can assume such assurance tacitly. And I think you are correct to observe that this constitutes a significant turn in praxis, if not explicitly in doctrine. But a liturgy might quite easily include a clear assurance to the intention of lifelong celibacy that is very much not tacitly assumed (in, say, a preface akin to that of the most recent marriage liturgies). In that case there is no reason to think that it could be in any way optional or omittable in such a way as to concern the preparers of such a rite.

    I actually think there is a chance that such a rite *might* scrape through synod – especially if Pilling/HoB have already screamed blue murder that there is no doctrinal change going on. Certainly, I doubt that any rite that was not reckoned sufficiently robust in expressing the established doctrine would make it through synod, though I completely take your point that once it’s passed out of the HoB’s hands, the playing field has shifted rather; and that that itself is a matter for concern.

    What I’m getting at is this: the HoB has always insisted that there is a clear line in the Church of England’s teaching on human sexuality and the expectations of celibacy of all those in same-sex relationships of whatever sort. It has always insisted that any apparent accommodations of a less unwavering position are nothing more than pastoral accommodations to those who wish to live in accordance with the established doctrine but whose life circumstances, for whatever reason, make it appropriate somehow for them to live according to that established doctrine within the framework of a formal union. What they have been saying formally is: we have never intended in any way to provide a pastoral framework for those who wish to live *contrary* to the established teaching of the Church. Why, then, not take them at their word this time and say, fine! We’re really glad you’re instituting a rite to bless those who live in formal unions with unqualified commitments to lifelong celibacy! It’s wholly proper that those people, having taken upon them a particularly arduous task in our present-day culture, should be assured of the church’s blessing as they navigate treacherous waters! So it’s obviously completely critical that the rite under consideration be absolutely crystal clear that we are blessing them precisely *in their commitment to celibacy*! That, I suspect, is an argument we stand a chance of winning.

    Of course, if we think the HoB has been lying all along and has really been trying to change the established doctrine without anybody noticing (which, for the record, I don’t think they have), then this is the moment when that will become entirely clear; because, assuming a clear insistence is made about the importance of a blessing of the celibate call of certain same-sex relationships by the likes of us, the HoB will have to either concur (in which case the rite is consonant with, and strengthening of, the established teaching) or disagree (in which case they will have to declare a change in doctrine). And at that point there will be some decisions to be made. But I do wonder whether we can assume precisely what the HoB’s intention until they actually go ahead and make it known… But then again, I suspect, Peter, you know better than I do…

    • I doubt I know better…

      Thanks for sharing, You are absolutely right that a liturgy that publicly affirmed celibacy, and demanded the participants to do so publicly as well, would work within our current theological framework. The problem though is that revisionists will want a liturgy with some wriggle-room (the presumption of celibacy rather that the public commitment to it for eg) and that will open the door to us blessing same-sex unions.

      The key to whether a liturgy would work within our current doctrine of marriage is simply this – if there is *any* way for a sexually active couple to undertake the liturgy and not perjure themselves then we are de facto blessing the sexual activity of that couple.

      And we have other complications. For example, we will not be able to use the liturgy for those in same-sex marriages, because such state sanctioned relationships ARE assumed to be sexual. We open up a whole can of worms by not getting this absolutely right.

      • Patrick

        But of course we always claimed that same-sex marriage cannot exist, so it is not at all clear that, theologically speaking, we accept same-sex marriage as anything other than a rebranding of the exact same sort of formal union we previously responded to as civil partnerships. So it’s actually not necessarily clear that we *do* assume same-sex marriages involving Christians have a sexual component, in that we never assumed civil partnerships necessarily would. (Or, at least, that was the formal argument.) So I’m not sure it’s *necessarily* the case that the last paragraph’s complication must arise. (Though I accept all the differences between formal arguments and what people think we’re saying.)

  • “the way in which it is a real physical icon of the spiritual union between Christ and his Church”

    If Christ and his Church can unite, this union is made possible through the difference between Christ and his Church. If a man and a woman can unite, this union is made possible through the difference between man and woman.

    If a woman can have a wife, and if a man can have a husband, then a marriage is not a relationship -it is just two lots of the same thing.

    If a woman can have a wife, then Christ is the same as his Church, and the Church is no different from Christ. The Church and Christ become the same thing. That’s what this is all about – man attempting to be God.

    • Sarah1845

      That’s just odd. I can pretty much guarantee that no-one has ever laid in bed thinking. ‘Hmm, I long to be God. I think I will achieve this by having sex with someone of the same gender as myself’. These sorts of claims just seem completely divorced from the real experience of anyone in a gay relationship, and make me suspect that you don’t know any actual gay people.

      • Phil Taylor

        I think you’ve just gone and taken the comment overly-literally.
        What gentlemind is saying is that same-sex relationships (certainly the sexual ones, I am as yet undecided on the celibate ones) are a result of people forgetting who it is that we must all look to when we do things, God.
        God created marriage as a man and a woman coming together in Genesis 2. This is continually affirmed within Scripture. It is then also shown as the way by which the relationship between God and humanity is to end up.
        Therefore for someone to go against this they are doing 2 things, both of which are placing humanity either at the same level as God, or above him.
        The first is that they are deciding that they know better than God. If God has ordained how relationships are supposed to be then as soon as man says that they can do it better they are placing themselves above God.
        The second is that they are making a mockery of the image of the Church as the Bride of Christ. Either it is 2 men and there is no bride, or there is 2 women and therefore 2 brides. That either means that the bride has been turned into the groom (thus making the imagery be that man has become like God) or that the groom has been turned into the bride (and thus the imagery is that God has become like man). In either case it is wrong, as neither is correct in what it portrays.
        So it is not that someone wakes up one morning and decides that they are going to become God, but that they wake up and decide to do something against God’s will, thus putting themselves above God and therefore assuming they are as good as God, if not above Him. Whenever we do anything, whether it is lying, stealing, not doing something that we should do or whatever, we put ourselves above God because our whole lives are supposed to be about honouring Him, not telling Him that we know better!

        • Very good, Phil. You give an “either or” account, though: either Man has become like God, or God has become like Man.
          It’s actually both, but without the “like” (God IS like man, and man IS like God – but “likeness”, by definition, is not sameness).
          If we say Christ can be his Church in the same way that his Church can be Christ, then Christ and Church are the same thing – which means that neither exist. When man plays at being God, man is saying “there is no (real) God”. But if there is no real God…there is no real man.

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      Leaving aside the issue of same sex MARRIAGE (which I’m not in favour of), a gay relationship (like a heterosexual marriage) isn’t just two lots of the same thing, since two people of the same sex aren’t things, much less are they the same thing. They’re two different people (just as two people of different sexes are).

      If two people of the same sex are in a sexual relationship, Christ doesn’t thereby become the same as his Church, since neither of them is a Christ (only Christ is) and neither of them is a Church: they’re just two people.

      That a gay relationship isn’t a real physical icon of the spiritual union between Christ and his Church isn’t a defect. A gay relationship is good in itself and precisely for what it is. It therefore has no need to be a real physical icon of something else.

      • Dermot

        Well done Peter on a very courageous post. Sadly, it’s not rocket science to see that those whom GAFCON sees as false prophets will now be able to position themselves as having been truly prophetic. They will claim too that all the rest of their agenda has been vindicated. Alas for the C of E.

  • Fiddlesticks

    That might have come across a bit rude. I didn’t mean your post was hysterical – it was the premature reaction that I was getting at.

  • laurence1999

    “It’s certainly not gossip”

    I am disappointed that the Pilling review group appears to be leaking like a sieve. I was a participant in the review and was asked to maintain absolute confidentiality regarding every part of the process. This I have done to date but I wondered why I bothered when members of the group are now – if I understand your comment correctly – reneging on their side of the deal.

    Laurence Cunnington

  • Phil Taylor

    Except that when it speaks about marriage it is ALWAYS in terms of 1 man and 1 woman. Yes, there are people with multiple wives (David) and people who use prostitutes (Judah), but these actions are not looked upon favourably. At best they are looked upon as simply reporting the facts of what happened. It NEVER says “And David took a second wife, and this was good”!

    Also, regarding the CofE changing it’s view of certain passages, in all previous cases there have been other verses that clearly speak in favour of the new interpretation as well as the new understanding. In the case of active homosexual relationships the Bible is very clear in what it says. Not intended from the start (Genesis 2), sinful (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) and stops people inheriting the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

    • I’ve always thought that arguing that since the Bible reports some of its characters engaging in polygamy therefore God accepts other sexual relationships outside of monogamous marriage is akin to arguing that since the Bible reports some of its characters raping others that’s also OK.

    • Anne Peat

      There are different interpretations of the passages you quote, Phil, as the article I gave the reference for above shows. I would argue there are passages which speak of all committed love relationships as reflecting God.

      • “all committed love relationships as reflecting God”

        Really?

        So you’re arguing that committed polygamy reflects God? You’re arguing that committed consensual incest reflects God?

        Or, are you now going to backtrack because your theology doesn’t fit those relationships YOU don’t approve of. What’s it to be?

        • Anne Peat

          We’ve had this discussion before, Peter, as it’s the way you always respond! :-) No. I’m not arguing that incestuous relationships reflect God’s love, because in most of them there is an imbalance of power in the relationship that makes them exploitative. And in polygamous relationships, as they have been experienced in most societies, the same applies. But when we talk about same-sex marriage, we are not talking about something that is comparable to incest or polygamy, we are talking about a permanent, faithful, stable, loving relationship between two adult human beings.

          • You are such a bigot. Let me repeat that. You are a bigot. As soon as you see a sexual relationship you don’t like you start bringing out all kinds of nonsense. “Imbalance of Power” in incest? Really? How do you know? How many permanent faithful stable incestuous couples do you know? Because I bet I know more than you and the ones I know exhibit all the same characteristics that the gay couples I know also exhibit.

            This is the bottom line here. I can take you to meet a “permanent, faithful, stable, loving” incestuous couple. They will meet all the criteria you demand. Why are you rejecting them? Because you are a bigot and because you simply label as “exploitative” anything that damages your moral framework. Your argument (“all committed love relationships as reflecting God”) is utterly flawed and in order to defend it to support the relationships you want to preference you have to abuse and malign people whose relationships you don’t like, making sweeping statements to cover whole groups of people in a shameful discriminatory way. Since when were you the judge of the validity of someone’s love? You are no better than some of the conservatives who try to paint all homosexuals are promiscuous or predatory.

            Anne, you are a bigot.

            • Anne Peat

              Peter, I understand that the prospect of the Church of England blessing same-sex relationships is something that you disapprove of, and that makes you angry and perhaps also afraid. But that really is not a reason to abuse someone who is trying to have a rational and respectful discussion with you, and to put a different point of view – one that is widely held and honoured in many religious circles.
              I am not rejecting anyone. I am saying that what I know of most incestuous relationships involves exploitation. But I did not say there could not be a loving, faithful, permanent, stable, incestuous relationship; ditto polygamous, as I am sure people brought up in a different society could argue.

              But, if I am a bigot because I agree with the church in not thinking that incestuous and polygamous relationships should be blessed, where does that leave you with your comments that same sex relationships are evil and sinful?

              • See how quickly you change your position. Now you accept that some incestuous relationships exhibit the very same things you laud in a gay relationship.

                So, if as you argue we should recognise “all committed love relationships as reflecting God”, are we to presume you would allow these loving, faithful, permanent, stable incestuous relationships to be blessed? Or are you a bigot who claims to support loving relationships but in fact picks and chooses on the basis of what does or doesn’t appeal to you?

                • Anne Peat

                  No, Peter, I’m not changing position, I’m trying to continue a discussion by allowing that not everything is black and white, and there are very fuzzy boundaries when it comes to human relationships. I do wish you would stop putting words into my mouth. I made it quite clear in my previous answer that I agree with the church’s position on Incestuous and polygamous relationships.
                  Nor am I picking and choosing on the basis of what does or does not appeal to me. I have no wish to be involved in an incestuous relationship, nor a polygamous one, nor a homosexual one. None of them appeals to me.
                  As an Anglican, my theology is based on Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience, and as such is constantly evolving as new insights and interpretations are given to me.
                  I don’t claim to have all the answers. My position has changed over the years. But I simply cannot accept that the loving, committed, faithful relationships I know of between same sex couples are evil or sinful, and I don’t think Jesus would either. So, if the Church of England does bless them, I will rejoice.
                  Quite clearly, you and Phil don’t agree. I’m sorry if the prospect of such blessings makes you unhappy and angry. I hope that IF that is what Pilling recommends and IF the Church of England decides to accept the recommendation, you can find it in your heart to rejoice with those people for whom it will make an enormous difference to their happiness and their sense of acceptance in the church.

                  • You didn’t answer my simple question. I suspect the reason you didn’t
                    answer it is because it would display the hypocrisy of your position.

                    If you want to come onto my website and start making arguments in favour of same-sex relationships, expect those arguments to be challenged. Your inability to answer a simple yes/no question as to whether you would or wouldn’t bless a relationship that is IDENTICAL to the ones you are supporting bar being between two people of the same biological family instead of two people of the same sex just demonstrates your position is utterly flawed.

                    When you want to explain WHY you won’t support the blessing of an
                    incestuous couple but you will a homosexual couple, then you can start
                    commenting again. But running away from the argument won’t work. It just demonstrates how utterly weak your position actually is.

                    And Anne, until you can explain why you approve of one loving relationship but not another, you remain a bigot. And a hypocritical one to boot.

                    • Mike Homfray

                      But there’s the rub – not all relationships are identical. I’m quite sure there are people who marry or have civil partnerships for the wrong reason, whose relationships really are heading for disaster.
                      You place the opposite sex couple as the ideal and use the bible to do so
                      Others would add to that ideal using a range of different justifications, but that doesn’t indicate ‘anything goes’
                      Its a question of where you draw the line and why. Some would say that polygamous relationships are always exploitative of women whether they realise it or not in the way you would see my relationship as harmful to me even though I don’t agree. Others say that incest is wrong because it is often cross generational or leads to problems with the health of children, or just that it breaches familial links. None of those relate to same sex relationships.
                      So, its possible to acclaim same sex relationships as having in general, no negative features in themselves whilst recognising that both incest and polygamy has things about them which make it unacceptable. Incestuous or polygamous units demonstrate love and commitment but also the other factors mentioned which means they should not be recognised.

                      That isn’t necessarily my position, but I think its perfectly credible. My own view is strictly secular and starts from the position of believing in equality for gay and lesbian people – hence the availability of civil marriage should be accepted. The religious issues have to be sorted by the church.

                    • No, in fact whether I prefer or don’t prefer heterosexual relationships has nothing to do with the issue here.

                      Look, here’s my basic position. SO many people (like Anne who has now run off to the Changing Attitude Facebook page to complain how mean I am for calling her a bigot) argue that what the Bible supports is not a specific pairing of man and woman but rather a permanent, faithful, stable (PSF) relationship. Look they say, here is a PSF gay relationship – why can’t you bless it?

                      Fine I say, so here is a PSF incestuous couple, why can’t you bless them? If it’s about PSF then they are PSF so they deserve your blessing.
                      Oh no, comes the reply, incestuous couples are always power imbalanced (or some other excuse). Really, I respond. Well for me all gay couples are actually secretly promiscuous. What a nonsense I am told, why are you judging gay couples like this? Well, I respond, why are you judging the PSF incestuous couples in the way you are?

                      Simply put, if I am a bigot for not accepting that a PSF gay couple should be blessed, if it is bigotry to think that *despite* them being PSF it’s still wrong, why is someone who will not accept and bless a PSF incestuous couple not also a bigot if they won’t accept PSF as a valid criteria to bless a relationship.

                      And the fact whether I prefer (or don’t) heterosexual coupling has nothing to do with it.

                      See, look at what you write – ts possible to acclaim same sex relationships as having in general, no negative features in themselves whilst recognising that both incest and polygamy has things about them which make it unacceptable. Incestuous or polygamous units demonstrate love and commitment but also the other factors mentioned which means they should not be recognised.

                      For the sake of the argument, what are these factors? What are these things that are intrinsic to EVERY SINGLE PSF incestuous or polygamous relationship which means they can’t be blessed. Spell them out. Because if the person who makes this argument cannot then they are quite simply bigotted. They just don’t like the relationships not because they can explain clearly what is fundamentally wrong with every single one of them, but rather because deep down they fill them with disgust.

                      And that Mike is just plain simple bigotry.

                  • “I have no wish to be involved in an incestuous relationship”

                    But some people do! Why are you such a prejudiced bigot that you would deny their relationship a blessing? You are such a bigot!

                  • Oh, come on, get real, Anne. Peter’s line is no more and no less than a proverbial taste of your own ‘faithful, permanent, stable’ mantra medicine applied liberally to other relationships excluded from marriage. (Cue the harried and much-maligned poster-siblings who only want to love each other).

                    Your diatribe is a master class in selective ‘special pleading’. We should really coin a term for your reaction to incest. Hmm..how about ‘hyperendogamophobia’. It’s a mouthful, but it even sounds scientific.
                    It’ll soon catch on and we can ‘extend’ existing equality legislation to make hyper-endogamous orientation another protected characteristic. Incest is charged with such negative connotations, isn’t it?
                    The make-over strategy is bound to succeed. As you’re well aware: it’s been done before!

            • laurence1999

              “You are such a bigot. Let me repeat that. You are a bigot.”
              “Anne, you are a bigot” Peter Ould

              “…anybody using the terms […] bigot, […] as a pejorative will find their comment removed and themselves banned from commenting.” Peter Ould

              • Pejorative: term of abuse or derogatory term.

                Was ‘bigot’ used by Peter as a pejorative or as a conclusion drawn from the evidence of prejudiced bias against specific groups of people?

                Now think hard…really hard.

                • I thought so hard my brain burst in a bubble of liberal inconsistency

              • :-)

                Touché, but I’m not using them as a pejorative. It is a simple matter of fact that Anne is bigotted against loving faithful incestuous couples.

            • If there’s any bigotry here, Peter, it’s quite clearly coming from you. Very sad.

              • Fiddlesticks

                I think you and Anne have misunderstood, Phil. Peter does not actually think Anne or you or anyone else is a bigot. He’s trying to show people what it’s like to try and argue with someone who calls you a bigot just because your moral boundaries don’t fit with the culture around you – whether that’s because it accepts polygamy (which many do) or incest (which was certainly allowed in some past cultures) or homosexuality (which tends to very between cultures). He’s playing a bit of a game, and by getting defensive and offended you’re walking into it.

                • Oh drat: you’ve given the game away; why else do you think I’m playing him up? Doesn’t make incest & polygamy any less a red herring though: all part of the old slippery-slope approach that people resort to when their arguments don’t hold water.

                  • Fiddlesticks

                    I’m not sure it *is* a slippery slope argument, but to try to take things in a different direction as this is who’s a bigot? line is getting rather tedious (not your fault): the thing that complicates this rather is that I’m not hearing from my gay friends within the conservative sections of the Church of England ‘change the teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman because I can’t live within those boundaries’. I’m hearing ‘Stop idealising marriage as the ultimate place of fulfillment and happiness. This is bad for us, it’s bad for all single people, it’s bad for those who are experiencing marriage difficulties, or maybe just finding that, no matter how great their spouse and kids, that this isn’t making them at all happy or fulfilled at the moment’.

              • Guest

                Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any animosity towards you or Anne or any of the arguments. I don’t think either of you are bigots (you just have a different opinion), but I do think your irony barometer is broken!

            • Mike Homfray

              Losing your temper just suggests you are a bully, Peter. Why are you so bothered anyway? You made your choice, the vast majority of people make their alternative choice to come out and be gay. Its not their fault that you choose to prioritise a false and outdated religion – thankfully few others do, including the terminally unsuccessful ex-gay groups with their tiny memberships (less than three figures in the case of the best known!). I’m pleased that I’ve helped countless people to live productive and happy lives without the burden of evangelical religion and its erroneous lies.

              • I didn’t lose my temper. Far from it. Unless you want to argue that anybody who calls someone else a bigot has de facto lost their temper?

                It’s a simple fact that anybody who says that the validator for a covenant union should be consensual monogamy regardless of the sexes of otherwise of the couple, and who then backtracks when presented with a permanent, faithful, stable incestuous (or polygamous for that matter) couple, that person is a bigot. It is bigotry to judge someone’s relationship simply because it doesn’t fit the narrow definitions you have decided are valid.

                • Mike Homfray

                  Its the tone of your response Peter. I appreciate you are angry about this and I have been angry too in the past, but ultimately it doesn’t really take the argument any further.
                  I think the question about the quality of relationships has to be looked at more widely. After all there are awful relationships of all types. I don’t think there’s a lot of point in lumping together all non-heterosexual relationships as somehow ‘the same’ – although I do question, for example, whether it really benefits anyone to hound incestuous couples, who are exceptionally rare and nearly always people who met in adulthood rather than those raised together. In reality it would be so easy for them to simply move area and live as a cohabiting couple who everyone would assume to be married in any case! Its a red herring – how many people here actually know a stable long term incestuous couple? Yet I think just about all of us know a gay or lesbian couple who have been together for a long time.

                  For me, though, the bible is the problem. Its a piece of fiction which reflects the time in which it was written – and people should stop trying to read into it what isn’t there. Liberals should be straightforward enough to do what liberals used to do and recognise the bible is a human production and contains much which simply reflects the beliefs, understandings and values of those who wrote it. Too many liberals seem to be trying to rehabilitate it rather than recognise its limitations.

                  • Fiddlesticks

                    I think his tone was mimicking the moral highground of people who go around being incensed by the bigotry of people who don’t think the Church should bless same sex relationships. The plan was to watch you get more upset and entangled as you tried to find some way of arguing that incest is wrong. As you seem to have no moral objection to incestuous or to polyamorous relationships, I guess he hasn’t had the satisfaction … Unless demonstrating to those less open minded than you that we’ve effectively thrown out all the bars to any non-heterosexual monogamous relationship by blessing same sex relationships was part of the plan …

                    • Mike Homfray

                      I think my view would be that there are issues with both incest and polygamy, but they have no relationship to any issues there might be about same sex relationships. Because I don’t start from the position of there being one proper form of relationship, I would take a more nuanced view of all relationships. Particularly in terms of whether they should be punished in law, So….I’d take the rape of a daughter very seriously, but a couple living together having met as adults and having found an attraction – well, there would be issues should they choose to have children, but do I really want to throw them in prison? No. Polygamy tends to give a raw deal to women, but although its illegal its actually very hard to prevent, as those who practice it would tend to marry within the culture in which it is accepted rather than ‘officially’ – so the Africans and Asians who live in polygamous relationships here are not strictly breaking the law

                    • Fiddlesticks

                      But that’s really interesting. Don’t you see? So, you’re saying that there are no absolute boundaries – what’s important is consent and power relationships. Are relations between close family members any more at risk of producing children with illnesses than, say, a woman later in life or baby’s conceived by IVF? I don’t know. Interesting question. And we tent to feel that polygamy gives a raw deal to women (though other cultures might disagree), but what about two men and one women? Or two couples living in shared relationship? And then there’s child/adult relations. Grey areas there. The age of consent was only raised to 16 from 14 because of pressure from evangelical sections of society in (I think) the late eighteenth century – not that long ago anyway. And a lot of people thought they were a bunch of puritans. That would get Jimmy Saville out of hot water at least.

                  • The reality is that marriage is not an accolade for a specified quality of relationship. A relationship may or may not be mutually beneficial, but marriage enjoys legal, social and economic privileges because it delivers something important to society.

                    Christians are able to focus on reasoning that, while congruent, makes no reference to prophetic writers of the Old or New testament. We have highlighted in natural that agree with the consensus of the European Court of Human Rights (Schalke and Kopf vs. Austria) that marriage is ‘geared towards the fundamental possibility of parenthood’. As such, the law rightly exclude types of sexual relationships from the institution of marriage that are incapable of that possibility of responsible biological kinship (and would undermine it). Note well, the careful wording: ‘types of sexual relationships’.

                    The converse accident fallacy was then raised by SSM proponents: ‘Ah, but what about infertile couples’. Why is infertilty not an exclusion? Well, let’s see, is infertility a type of sexuality? No, so it’s not excluded.

                    The primary parental rights over offspring are shared by their biological parents through marriage. Parenting rights acquired by other means, such as adoption, are subsidiary to primary parenting rights. The biological right must be relinquished by consent.

                    Yet, this change to marriage law will challenge the natural rights of any person to parent the issue of their body with the question of whether their intention was sufficient to confer legal parenthood. Marriage will be held to be trump all other genetic connections to the child with a superior proof of intention to be a parent.

                    Only one clause of the SSM prevents the rights of any willing unmarried loving natural parents from being usurped by a legal mechanism of a partner without parental blood relation asserting superior parental intention through marriage. It all hangs by a thread.

                    Now, you’ve declared before that this means little to you, but your attempt to frame Christian conduct in this debate as grounded in an unintelligent application of the book you deem fictional and archaic is proven false and disingenuous.

                    Yet, even that doesn’t surprise me of you. Just another political tactic of yours to undermine evangelical consistency with the harm of ‘laissez-faire’ social upheaval at the tax-payers’ expense!

                    • Mike Homfray

                      But that clearly isn’t the agreed view of parliament, and indeed, the reality of marriage which in 25% of cases are childless – voluntarily.

                      Things change…..

                    • Childlessness, whether voluntary or involuntary, is not a type of sexual relationship and has therefore never been excluded from marriage.

                      In the SSM Act, it was the agreed view of Parliament that a single act of sexual union with an outsider by person in a same-sex marriage of any duration could not be cited as grounds for divorce (as adultery is cited by heterosexuals). Instead, the comparatively second-class standard of citing a pattern of mistreatment must be used to prove unreasonable behaviour.
                      It was also the agreed view of Parliament that same-sex partners cannot rely upon the presumption of parenthood that confers shared parenting rights through marriage.

                      Some things do change. The above-mentioned didn’t and we know why.

          • Phil Taylor

            But why not incestuous relationships? After all, Abraham married his half-sister and God doesn’t speak against it? Indeed, God takes that relationship and blesses it! Or how about Judah and his daughter-in-law? Not genetic incest, but pretty close to the bone. Part of Jesus’ genealogy though!

            There are FAR MORE passages and situations in the Bible that are put incest in a positive light than there are homosexual examples. And by far more I mean that there actually ARE some! (no, David and Jonathan don’t count as to interpret it that was is to misinterpret the language used.)

            And yet we say (and by “we” I mean people of hetero and homo inclinations) that incest is wrong. And why do we say that? Christians ALWAYS go to the Bible, even if they are a liberal! They go to the list of people that the Bible says that you cannot marry, or the passage in one of Paul’s letters where he talks about a situation of someone shacking up with his father’s wife. They will also throw in the arguments of power imbalance, or the genetic issue for offspring, but Christians will ALWAYS use the Bible in a religious debate on the subject. and yet, when you remove the genetics (they can be made sterile) and the power (adult siblings meeting as adults after never knowing each other as children, which could also be the same for parents and children they have given up) there is only the Biblical argument left, and yet this seems to be completely ignored when the issue is homosexuality.

            And yes, you have referenced that article. But that is some of the worst “interpretation” of the Bible I have read. It places no weight on historical/traditional interpretation and also ignores the fact that Jesus (who, let us not forget, IS GOD!) never speaks out to say that homosexuality is ok in ANY context, but instead supports the law as it is understood at the time even though He would know if there was anything wrong with the interpretation or the existence in the future of monogamous, committed homosexual partners. When Jesus is ignored as being God (and thus knowing EVERYTHING about creation and the intent of the Father in creating it) it is as good as saying that Jesus is less than He actually is. It is reducing God and saying that He got some things wrong. And when people do that they place themselves on a pedestal and declare that God is inferior to them.
            And at it’s worst, it is human beings who declare that they are followers of God and yet reduce Him and His message to humanity!

            • The reason is simple Phil. Anne is a bigot. She goes “ick” at the thought of incest so she has to find derogatory stereotypes to malign all incestuous couples. It’s naked shameful unChristian prejudice that she cannot see these beautiful loving consensual relationships as the true Godly Biblical covenant love that they are.

              I can keep this up all night if necessary.

              • Phil Taylor

                /bow
                That is a masterclass in putting the proverbial boot to a flawed argument!
                Peter, I salute you!!!

                • Oh, come on, get real. Peter’s line is no more and no less than a proverbial taste of your own ‘faithful, loving and monogamous’ medicine applied elsewhere to other excluded relationships.

                  Your diatribe is a master class in selective ‘special pleading’. We should really coin a term for Anne’s reaction. Hmm..I know ‘hyperendogamophobia’. It’ll soon catch on and we can extend existing equality legislation to make hyper-endogamous orientation another protected characteristic.

                  The strategy must succeed: it’s been done before!

          • wyclif

            And here it is, for all to see. Nota bene.

  • You are utterly Biblically illiterate. It is shocking. In order to support sin you have to trample over stuff that doesn’t fit your moral framework.

    Ps.128:3; Prov. 5:18; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-29; Eccl. 9:9; Eph. 5:31-32

    • Oswald Carnes

      Are there any conservatives who aren’t rude jackasses?

      • You think they’re all rude jackasses?

  • How is it insulting to give you the list of Bible references that display that your claim that the Bible never disapproves of polygamy is utter nonsense? The only thing that insults you is that your utter lack of understanding of what the Bible says about polygamy was displayed in just a few Scripture references.

  • Mark Adams Brown

    What of the old saw that “exceptions do not make the rule”? That a person can deliberately, repeatedly, and unrepentantly sin (whether sodomy, incest, incestuous sodomy, stealing, adultery, physical or emotional abuse, covetousness, etc.) and yet otherwise present a well-adjusted, intelligent, witty, loving facade in no way establishes that their sin is not sin. Yet, that seems to be the test of some commenting here. God, the Creator, tells us what is a crime against His Creation and His Kingdom.

    Moreover, there is the possible (not plainly addressed in the Bible) danger that a person’s repeated, unrepentant sin can generate a new demonic spirit of that character, so that the increasing prevalence of sinful behavior builds an increasingly large demonic force whose spiritual power eventually can override intellect and reason.

    Mark Adams Brown
    San Angelo, Texas
    October 29, 2013

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  • Mike Homfray

    Ultimately this depends whether it is important for the CofE to remain Established or not. I don’t think its feasible for an established church to be so out of kilter with the law of the land. It sums up why establishment is a difficult concept in what is essentially a secular society where beliefs on this issue are moving in a direction very different from the church and its traditional stance. Clearly the church must make its own decision, but if they continue to stand aside they will become a small and irrelevant sect which government will treat as any other pressure group. If they wish to continue to have any influence, then they will have to accept that much of what they have stood for will simply have to change.
    Of course, I speak as an ex-Christian who decided that the Christian faith was wrong, so if the church wants to regarded as a marginalised home for the terminally bigoted, that’s fine by me….

    • Phil Taylor

      Mike, you seem to have an amazingly flawed idea of what faith is.
      First off, why should the Church of England, a denomination of the Christian faith and thus holding to the basic tenants of that faith, care about being “out of kilter” with the world? Christianity is a faith that holds God as the measure we use to judge whether we are out of kilter or not. For ANY faith to decide to change with the law of the land simply because it is the law of the land is insanity! That would mean that the Church would have never fought against slavery (not the time for any comments about the Church being in favour of it at any point) and there would have been a whole lot less involvement in getting repealed.
      The whole point of a faith, if it is to be taken seriously, is to live your life by certain ideologies that you believe in. Anyone who claims to be a believer, regardless of what in, who doesn’t try to live to those standards set by their faith is not really a believer but merely using it as a meaningless label.
      The whole idea of the established church is another matter all together, where many people will have differing views, but never forget that religion should NEVER bow to the law just because it’s the law!

      • Mike Homfray

        But clearly there are almost entirely different views of what faith means and contains within the CofE.
        You express the coinservative view well, but liberals would have very strong disagreements with you.
        You currently share the same space within the CofE so its hardly surprising there are such violent disagreements.
        The CofE has the power and influence it has because of Establishment. I appreciate this is declining, but if iot came down to a choice between eventually accepting the growing social consensus on gay issues or losing that status, I think many who currently go with the flow would make the choice to stay Established.

        • Phil Taylor

          Whether I am conservative or not, whether someone else is liberal or not, the only reason for having faith is because you put your faith (hence the word!) in a God (or gods, or some other “higher power”) and follow what they say. Muslims follow the teachings of Mohammed and the commands of Allah, Hindus follow their gods for various things, Jews follow God with the understanding that the Messiah has not yet come and Christians follow God with the understanding of Trinity. I could go on, but all follow some being or beings that give direction to their life. And people who take that seriously (and you can have liberals who take it seriously as well as conservatives) hold that their understanding of the world comes out of their faith.
          Therefore, to suggest that ANY religion needs to keep in step with the culture and laws around it simply to remain “up to date” is showing a complete misunderstanding of the nature of faith as a whole.

  • Problem is Mike, orientation isn’t the issue – sexual practice is. Unless you are suggesting that if you are gay you HAVE to have gay sex.

    • Mike Homfray

      Of course not. However, the secular law has little , in fact, in terms of equality, nothing at all to do with ‘practice’ and everything to do with orientation, so if the church does anything other than go along with this, they will be out of step.

      • Depends what you’re talking about Mike. If you mean general equality law, yes it is on the grounds of orientation. But the Civil Partnership and Marriage Acts make no assumption about the sexuality of those entering into such relationships.

  • Fiddlesticks

    “Yes, but you fail to understand that no-one has an orientation towards either polygamy or incest”

    I’m not sure that I do fail to understand that. But that isn’t the argument being made. The argument being made is that marriage is about love and the gender of the two people concerned is irrelevant.

    The orientation argument is quite different – it’s that certain people can only feel comfortable and be themselves in a same sex relationship. It’s a bit difficult to argue with that as you can’t really tell somebody else how to feel or how to be themselves. (Until somebody comes along and says ‘I’m gay, but I’m single or in a mixed orientation marriage and I feel like I’m being true to myself’, which, again, is a bit difficult to argue with). But does that make a same sex relationship the same as marriage? And is this a strong enough argument for the Church to bless those relationships?

    You’re frustrated because you want Peter to see things your way, but if you want to stop playing his game you need to change your argument from the ‘equal love’ slogan or qualify it a bit.

    • Mike Homfray

      I don’t particularly want Peter to see things my way – in that I probably agree with him that you cannot believe the Bible in the way an evangelical wishes to, and hold the views I do on gay relationships. My position is that the bible is nothing more than a human production, and largely a fiction reflecting the age in which it was written

      • Fiddlesticks

        OK – I was a little irritated that you accused me of not understanding something that wasn’t currently the proposition under discussion, which is why I suggested you were frustrated. I really have no idea whether you’re frustrated or not, or why you’ve come on this blog defending Anne (who I wasn’t attacking, BTW).

        But you’ve now come out with yet another argument – which is that the Church should bless same sex relationships because the Bible is largely fiction.

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  • Simon_Webster

    I am but a humble member of the laity, and I have never been to Bible College. But I have read it a lot for nearly 40 years and like to think I understand some of its fundamental messages. We are all sinners; Christ died to save us from our sin; marriage is between one man and one woman, sex outside marriage is sin.

    A few years ago I distinctly remember some saying if we agree to civil partnerships there will be a push for marriage to be “allowed” for gays. “Oh no” was the response…and now we are here…

    The fundamental issue here is is homosexuality a sin? It is said, how can any loving relationship be a sin? The Jimmy Saville affair would seem to indicate that some can.

    Marriage is between one man and one woman. Gays can be in loving committed relationships absolutely. But why do they want to call it marriage? To me it is akin to showing up at football match with a ruby ball.

    • Hamlet

      I’m pretty certain that Jimmy Saville’s “relationships” were 1) not relationships 2) not loving (ie. abusive) and 3) overwhelmingly non-consensual (and also illegal). What’s your point of reasoning?

      • Simon_Webster

        Sorry, I agree that Saville was a bit of a red herring. I was attempting to convey the idea that there are plenty of loving heterosexual relationships that are sinful: those that are adulterous and those outside marriage being the most obvious.

  • Hamlet

    I hardly think this is about bringing more young secular people into Church. If it were about that, there would be far better things to do (eg. abolish no sex before marriage!)

  • Folks,

    I have taken the editorial decision to remove comments from people who abuse my family, either here or in other places. You can disagree with me, you can call me all manner of things under the sun, but the moment you decide to insult or abuse my family you are not welcome here. I don’t think I need to apologise to anybody for this.

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      You are absolutely right to do that, Peter.

    • Mike Homfray

      Yes, I don’t blame you – we disagree on absolutely everything, I am a left-wing, pro-EU, openly gay ex-Christian atheist in a long term same sex relationship – but hope we can have a reasonable discussion without resorting to secondary insult

      • Fiddlesticks

        I would hope also that nobody could personally insult your long term partner. If you feel that somebody has, please say so.

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  • Jesus calling the obstinate rejection of Himself and John the Baptist puerile:
    But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:“ ‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’ (Luke 7:30 – 32)

    St. Paul, indignant at overt hostility: ‘At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

    Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!” Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”

    St. Paul, indignant at the persistently attempts to impose of OT circumcision on Gentile Christians: ‘I wish those troublemakers would castrate themselves. (Gal. 5:12)

    Peter Ould’s responses on this thread could be considered mild by comparison, but his motives were holy and nothing more than a repeated mirroring of the stock bigotry accusations that are constantly levelled at evangelicals by those who claim that marriage demands no more than the PSF mantra requires. The point was well made.

    Of course, all it takes is a threat of an official complaint for the exchange of rhetoric here to spiral into a slur of ‘unbecoming conduct’ that pressure groups like Changing Attitude can exploit. It’s a nasty underhand tactic, but that doesn’t surprise me!

    There has been no recognition on CA’s blog or web-site of the written abuse on this thread towards Peter’s family, Colin Coward’s blog entry only maximises the idea that they are taking the higher ground, while opponents of their cause resort to name-calling.
    It’s actually to the credit of some opposing the evangelical position here to acknowledge that the hideous railing of that kind oversteps another agreed ‘red line’: that of common decency.

    On days like these, I’m thankful that I’m not a member of the clergy.

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