Category : Sexuality

(ABC Aus.) Ilana Pardes–“Draw me after you, let us run”: The poetry, sensuality and relentless artistry of the Song of Songs

This collection of love poems revolves around a dialogue between two young lovers: the Shulamite, as the beloved is called, and her nameless lover. There is something utterly refreshing in the frank celebration of love that is found in the passionate exchanges of the two. Nowhere else in the Bible are bodily parts — hair, nose, eyes, lips, tongue, breasts, thighs — set on a pedestal; nowhere else are the sensual pleasures of love — tastes, colours, sounds and perfumes — relished with such joy; nowhere else is sexual desire spelled out with so much verve.

And yet sexuality is never blatant in the Song. Instead we find a nuanced combination of audacity, innocence and decorum, made possible by a spectacular metaphoric web that allows the two lovers to be direct and indirect at once.

Both lovers are masters of metaphor. If much of the love poetry of antiquity (and beyond) sets male lovers on stage as the agents of courting, here we find a strikingly egalitarian amorous dialogue between two virtuoso speakers who woo each other while juggling a plethora of metaphors and similes from different realms. They liken each other to roses, trees, gazelles, doves, goats, the moon, the sun, a crimson thread, perfumes, gold, precious stones, locks, walls and towers. No figure of speech seems to suffice in depicting love.

Read it all.

Posted in Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Taonga) Archbishop Sir David Moxon challenges churches to open our eyes to human trafficking

Archbishop Sir David Moxon has called on churches in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to recognise and respond to human trafficking in our region.

In a seminar at Vaughan Park, Archbishop David Moxon has joined fellow advocates for the elimination of human trafficking to outline how we can help identify and put a stop to trafficking in the Pacific.

As an isolated and supposedly clean, green and pure country, we don’t usually associate the dark and sordid crime of human trafficking with Aotearoa.

But it’s here.

Police have documented cases of people who were brought to Aotearoa under false pretences to work in forced-labour conditions. This happens especially when there are unfilled labour demands in our hospitality, nursing, horticulture, construction and fishing industries.

Sr Gemma Wilson from Aotearoa New Zealand Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ANZRATH) spoke about the challenges of anti-trafficking work, while Rev Chris Frazer (a Diocese of Wellington deacon for social justice) shared how she works alongside the Department of Immigration and other churches to help authorities intervene in human trafficking situations. Also speaking on the issues was Clare Mercer, a young Christian leader who has taken part in anti-trafficking work in Greece.

Human trafficking is the second largest illicit crime in the world, reaping billions of dollars in illegal profits every year….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality, Violence

A Statement from Gafcon Australia about the recent Developments on the Diocese of Wangaratta

The Board of Gafcon Australia expresses its dismay over the decision of Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to make provision for the blessing of same-sex marriages. We believe this has torn the fabric of our communion within the Anglican Church of Australia.

This decision is contrary to the teaching of Scripture about the nature of human sexuality and marriage. It is also contrary to the doctrinal position of the Anglican Church of Australia.

General Synod has repeatedly affirmed that marriage is a lifelong exclusive union between a man and a woman. The Bible does not allow the blessing of any sexual relationship which is not marriage between a man and a woman.

Contrary to the views expressed by Bishop Parkes, the Anglican Church of Australia has always been a church that confesses its faith. Every deacon, priest and bishop has declared their faith and pledged their commitment to our doctrine at their ordination. This confession includes adherence to the Holy Scriptures, the Creeds, the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion. Bishops are required to “correct and set aside teaching that is contrary to the mind of Christ”.

The resolution in Wangaratta is emblematic of a move in the Anglican Church of Australia away from our doctrine.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbp of Sydney Responds to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta

From there:

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has issued a statement in response to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to authorise a service to bless civil marriages. The Bishop of Wangaratta has claimed this service would allow for a blessing of same-sex unions and that he personally intends to use it for that purpose.

Archbishop Davies said “It is highly regrettable that clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Wangaratta have chosen to follow their Bishop rather than the clear words of Scripture concerning God’s design for human sexuality (Matt 19:4-12).

The doctrine of our Church is not determined by 67 members of a regional synod in Victoria nor is it changed by what they may purport to authorise.

Time and time again, the General Synod has affirmed the biblical view of marriage as the doctrine of our Church. To bless that which is contrary to Scripture cannot, therefore, be permissible under our church law.

The circumstances of this event are reminiscent of the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada in 2003. It is now universally acknowledged that those events were the beginning of the ‘tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion’.

Moreover, to claim the authority of our Church to carry out a service of blessing contrary to the biblical view of marriage and the doctrine of our Church will certainly fracture the Anglican Church of Australia.”

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(David Ould) Wangratta Motion Passes in Australia, the Anglican Church There Faces a Crisis Moment

The Diocese of Wangaratta has passed their motion calling for the blessing of individuals who have taken part in a same-sex wedding. The voting, reported by prominent supporter of the motion Ven. John Davis (Archdeacon Emeritus of the Diocese), was that 67 for, 18 against and one abstention.

Davis has published his speech in support of the motion….

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell: “Shabby and shambolic” – the CofE still conspires against truth and justice in historic sexual abuse

In a church that has nominally (if belatedly) embraced “Transparency and Accountability”, rejected clergy deference and pledged to “put the interests of the victim first”, it is surely not asking too much for a full and frank response to be issued to these important and prima facie legitimate concerns about the way the review is being handled. One of the problem areas also identified by the survivors lawyers at IICSA is the Church of England’s “Byzantine procedures”.

In this case, it is by no means clear who is driving the decision to limit the terms of the review. Is it the Archbishops, the House of Bishops, the Archbishops’ Council, the National Safeguarding Team, the National Safeguarding Supervisory Group, the acting National Safeguarding Director, the incoming National Safeguarding Director, the Lead Safeguarding Bishop, or the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary General of the General Synod? Is the decision administrative or executive, individual or collective? One only has to list the potential decision-makers to illustrate the lawyer’s point. Grappling with this organisation and its confusing structures is extraordinarily difficult for an aggrieved individual. It should not be like this.

It is therefore legitimate to pose three simple and direct questions:

1) Who in the Church of England has the power to change these decisions?

2) Who will accept responsibility for not changing them if we want to challenge these matters in detail at the next meeting of the General Synod?

3) How do we change the decision-maker if access to justice is denied?

I do, of course, refer to justice to accused and accuser alike, which can only emerge from fair and independent process. In short, if the shabby and shambolic behaviour continues, who carries the can?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Stewardship, Theology, Violence

(WSJ) A Debate over American Religious Liberty Between David French and Marci Hamilton

Justice Samuel Alito asked President Barack Obama’s solicitor general Donald Verrilli, Jr. whether constitutional recognition for same-sex marriage would lead to stripping federal tax exemptions from religious colleges that oppose gay marriage, in the same way that federal law strips tax exemptions from colleges that oppose interracial marriage or interracial dating. Rather than immediately answering “no,” Mr. Verrilli said, “It’s certainly going to be an issue.”

And just like that, millions of American Christians could easily and quickly imagine a future where the law held their traditional, orthodox religious beliefs—the beliefs of the Catholic Church and every significant evangelical denomination in America—in the same regard as it held the views of vile racists. But Christians who had been paying attention knew of this risk well before Obergefell. Christians who had been paying attention had seen a trend where legal activists at all levels of government had been aggressively expanding their regulatory and ideological attacks on religious liberty.

During my legal career defending free speech and religious freedom on campus, I saw more than 100 colleges attempt to de-recognize Christian student groups or eject them from campus for reserving their membership or leadership for Christian students. During the Obama administration, Americans watched his Department of Health and Human Services try to force nuns to facilitate access to contraceptives and abortifacients. Catholic adoption agencies that continued to place children with families according to church teachings faced a choice between closing and violating their deeply held beliefs. Christian creative professionals faced ruinous financial penalties for refusing to use their artistic talents to celebrate events they found offensive.

The list could go on, but more disturbing than the individual cases is the deep inversion of America’s constitutional principles that has empowered this legal assault. If governments ultimately prevail in these efforts, the resulting precedents would upend the constitutional order, rendering religious Americans even more vulnerable to future legal attacks, like the threatened loss of tax exemptions for Christian educational institutions.

The Constitution (including the Bill of Rights and the amendments passed in the wake of the Civil War) renders operational and enforceable the founding declaration that Americans “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” which include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These core American liberties include rights to due process, free speech, assembly and the free exercise of religion. Every other American law—whether a federal statute, state constitutional provision, state law or university regulation—is subordinate to and subject to review under this Bill of Rights.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(TGC) George Sinclair–The State of Orthodoxy in the Anglican Church of Canada

In 2016 the Chancellor of the ACoC made clear that just because something is affirmed does not mean that alternatives are rejected. He pointed out that there is nothing in the current Canons that forbids same-sex marriage. He said the same thing this year.

The General Synod then overwhelmingly passed a series of affirmations which made clear that it agrees with the Chancellor’s ruling. Listen to this, “We affirm that, while there are different understandings of the existing Marriage Canon, those bishops and synods who have authorized liturgies for the blessing of a marriage between two people of the same sex understand that the existing Canon does not prohibit same-sex marriage.” The House of Bishops made a similar statement.

It gets worse. The Synod overwhelmingly passed “Affirmations” that say that both views on marriage are held “with prayerful integrity;” that all sides on this issue hold their convictions “in good faith” and that “we hold dear their continued presence in this church;” and that “we affirm our commitment to walk together and preserve communion.” In other words, different views on marriage are at best a third-order issue.

This means that biblical orthodoxy has lost the war. To make the Canons clearly biblical, the ACoC will have to change the Canons to add something to the effect that they reject same-sex marriage as biblical and that this is a first-order issue. This is not possible.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CLJ) Adrian Vermeule–All Human Conflict Is Ultimately Theological

First consider a pair of puzzles from the crucial period 2014-16 in American politics, when the tempo of liberalism’s sacramental celebrations increased sharply. In both cases, the puzzle is that political incumbents in a liberal regime—executive actors in one case, litigation groups and judicial actors in another—took actions that were flagrantly ill-advised from the standpoint of the ragion di stato, revealing deeper sacramental commitments and impulses.

The first was the Obama administration’s relentless attempt to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to either fund abortifacient contraceptives or, at least, to take action to pass the responsibility elsewhere. Commentators at the time criticized the seemingly inexplicable stupidity of the administration’s approach, which created a highly salient example of repressive regulatory secular liberalism and thus radically antagonized Christian conservatives, who proceeded to vote for Trump in large numbers. It is plausible to think that the voting pattern was partly caused bythe example, although, in the nature of the case, it is extremely difficult to establish such things one way or the other.

But this criticism, while entirely valid from a ragion di stato perspective, does not quite reach the root of the matter, at least if we understand the inner dynamics of sacramental liberalism. The very point of the administration’s conduct, on my view, was not (or not only) to force one smallish order of nuns to provide contraceptives—indeed, the very fact the administration offered a “voluntary” opt-out underscores that the real objective lay elsewhere. Rather, the objective was ceremonial—to force the nuns to acknowledge publicly the liberal state’s just authority, even in matters of religion, the authority to require either provision or the exercise of an opt-out, as the state saw fit. The main point was to stage a public, sacramental celebration of the justice of liberal power and of the overcoming of reactionary opposition.

Another example involves the puzzle of Obergefell[26]including the administration’s rather chilling representation at oral argument in the Supreme Court that institutions not supportive of same-sex marriage might have to lose their tax exemptions as contrary to “public policy,” as did racist institutions like Bob Jones University.[27] The puzzle is not only why the administration would make such an inflammatory threat, but also why such a judicial decision was necessary at all, when the tide of politics was running in favor of same-sex marriage anyway. Simple nonintervention, by means of any of the standard techniques available to the liberal Justices,[28] would have attained the same policy ends with far less political conflict. As far as instrumental political rationality went, all that was necessary was to do nothing.

But a conspicuous conflict with the settled mores of millennia was, of course, the point. It was right and just to have same-sex marriage not merely embodied in law, but declared a requirement of fundamental justice, coupled with a conspicuous defeat of the forces of reaction.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Philosophy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Supreme Court, Theology

(NR) David French–‘The Next Big Religious Freedom Case Just Landed at SCOTUS’

Those are the first words in a tweet thread from Becket attorney Lori Windham, and she’s right. This week Becket filed a cert petition in Sharonell Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Fulton is appealing from a Third Circuit Court of Appeals opinion holding that Philadelphia did not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment when it took punitive actions against Catholic Social Services because, in the words of the cert petition, “as a Catholic agency, CSS cannot provide written endorsements for same-sex couples which contradict its religious teachings on marriage.” Philadelphia took this action in spite of the fact that “CSS’s beliefs about marriage haven’t prevented anyone from fostering. ” As Becket explains:

Philadelphia has a diverse array of foster agencies, and not a single same-sex couple approached CSS about becoming a foster parent between its opening in 1917 and the start of this case in 2018. Despite this history, after learning through a newspaper article that CSS wouldn’t perform home studies for same-sex couples if asked, the City stopped allowing foster children to be placed with any family endorsed by CSS. This means that even though no same-sex couples had asked to work with the Catholic Church, the foster families that actually chose to work with the Church cannot welcome new children into their homes at a time when Philadelphia has an admittedly “urgent” need for more foster parents.

As is the case with multiple modern religious liberty cases, the issue isn’t whether LGBT individuals are excluded from the relevant market, industry, or program but whether the state may use its power to enforce ideological and religious conformity. Just as a ruling for Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop meant that customers could still get their cakes, and Christians could still retain their rights of conscience, a ruling for CSS here would mean that LGBT families could still foster, and Catholics would be able to uphold church teaching.

Moreover, the facts of the case demonstrate that Philadelphia’s intolerance doesn’t just harm the Catholic Church, it harms the very people the foster program is designed to help.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Supreme Court

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–Young adults get sequence of sex and marriage wrong

These debates happen all the time, and pastors know that many young people in their pews have made their own compromises between centuries of doctrine and premarital sex, said sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

“What’s striking about what we see here is how naive so many young people are about life and love and marriage,” said Wilcox, referring to “The Bachelorette” clash. “They don’t seem to understand how important it is to develop self-control as they try to move seriously into emotional, physical and spiritual relationships. …

“So many young people don’t realize that what the pop culture is selling them is not conducive to a good relationship, based on what we know from the social sciences.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(Church Society) Lee Gatiss–What is Spiritual Abuse?

The Church of England has some very helpful online resources for safeguarding. They even have some courses that can be taken by anyone involved in church at their Safeguarding Portal, and you can get “badges” and certificates to prove you’ve passed the course if that is of use in your context. I got a couple of foundational certificates and also did two very helpful and informative training courses on modern slavery and human trafficking, while looking into this recently.

Whilst checking out some of these very well-presented resources, I was struck by the definition given of “spiritual abuse” — something which has sadly become topical of late, and something which many of us are now wrestling with, and trying to understand or come to terms with. It starts by admitting that unlike physical abuse, sexual abuse, or modern slavery for example, “spiritual abuse” is not a category of abuse recognised in statutory guidance. It is a matter for great concern, however, both within and outside faith communities, including the Church of England. It was, for example, discussed and defined in Protecting All God’s Children (2010), a Church of England document which can be found online here. There it is said that:

“Within faith communities, harm can also be caused by the inappropriate use of religious belief or practice. This can include the misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline, oppressive teaching, or intrusive healing and deliverance ministries. Any of these could result in children experiencing physical, emotional or sexual harm. If such inappropriate behaviour becomes harmful, it should be referred for investigation in co-operation with the appropriate statutory agencies. Careful teaching, supervision and mentoring of those entrusted with the pastoral care of children should help to prevent harm occurring in this way. Other forms of spiritual harm include the denial to children of the right to faith or the opportunity to grow in the knowledge and love of God.”

This I think was the working definition in the case of the Revd Tim Davis who, it was reported in 2018, subjected a 15 year old boy to intense prayer and Bible sessions in his bedroom. The teenager described the mentoring he received as “awful” and all-consuming, but never felt able to challenge the minister. Davis was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk of holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Quillette) Marilyn Simon–“Unsex Me Here’ and Other Bad Ideas

Winkler completed an MA in English Literature in 2013, at the same time that I was working on my doctorate on Shakespeare, which makes the two of us grad school contemporaries. I understand well the myopic feminist perspective of English departments, of how students are often trained to read specifically for attitudes of unfairness towards women in order to confirm the narrative of women’s victimization. I also understand how the “male gaze,” men’s sexualization of women, is treated punitively, as a dirtiness within men that can cause them to dehumanize women and which can lead to cruelty. And of course this is sometimes tragically true.

But what troubles me is that women commonly fail to appreciate the internal struggle men have with their sexual instincts, and instead condemn them for having these instincts at all. In other words, consciousness raising feminism rightly asserts that men shouldn’t treat women like objects for their use, but it does so while being unconscious of men’s humanity, and as a consequence, both minimizes and punishes the male sexual instinct that causes men to see women sexually in spite of men’s civilizing efforts not to.

What contemporary feminism fails to adequately grapple with is nature itself, and as a result, feminist attitudes towards men, and particularly towards male sexuality, are compassionless and punitive (not to mention humourless—and human sexuality is so often very funny!). With a blind spot for men’s experiences, consciousness raising feminist attitudes towards male sexual energy are unlikely to inspire mutual respect, and instead work to engender resentment, anxiety, and unhappiness.

As I grow older, I’m becoming increasingly aware of and sympathetic to the internal struggle between powerful sexual instincts and self-possession that most men contend with every day. Many women have an active libido, but in my experience the vast majority of women think about sex much less than men do. Women: imagine what it would be like to think about sex a lot, then quadruple what you’ve just imagined, and now you’re in the ballpark of the average man. It would be exhausting, I can only imagine, to constantly have to assert one’s own self-restraint over an appetite that gnaws at one’s imagination from moment to moment. But to be made to feel somehow polluted for the appetite itself, the appetite that men most usually successfully control and deny would be almost intolerable.

Read it all.

Posted in History, Men, Poetry & Literature, Sexuality, Women

(Church Times) C of E to back up government guidance on LGBT lessons

The Church of England is to provide support for its schools to help them deliver new relationship education required by the Government by next year, including teaching on LGBT relationships and families.

The new government guidance on Relationship and Sex Education for primary-age children comes into force in September 2020, although some schools are beginning it earlier.

A course in one school, Parkfield Community School, Birmingham, sparked weeks of angry protests from mainly Muslim parents at the school gate.

The Government’s counter-extremism commissioner, Sara Khan, criticised the Department for Education in a BBC Panorama investigation this week for its lack of support for the school, and for the assistant head teacher, Andrew Moffatt, who devised the school’s programme, “No Outsiders”.

A Church House spokesman said this week that it was considering how best to support Church schools in delivering the new relationships education.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(PD) Jane Robbins–Are There Cracks in the Edifice of Transgender Ideology?

yet these descriptions—cult, social contagion, ideology—fail to capture the uniqueness and enormity of what is happening with the transgender movement. Past and current cults have seduced their victims into losing all sense of reality and embracing bizarre and dangerous beliefs; social contagions and mass crazes have affected large groups of seemingly intelligent individuals; ideologies have taken hold that have altered societies and cost lives. But now we are facing something different.

Previous cultish or similar social phenomena have generally been limited to some degree by time, space, or eventual return of the senses. But Western civilization is now gripped by a cultural cyclone that is blowing through such limitations with totalitarian force. Transgenderism has shaken the foundations of all we know to be true. Scientific knowledge is rejected and medical practice co-opted in service of a new “reality”—that “gender” is independent of sex, that males and females of any age, even young children, are entitled to their own transgender self-identification based only on their feelings, and that literally every individual and every segment of society must bow to their chosen identity at risk of losing reputation, livelihood, and even freedom itself.

Remarkably, this revolution is happening without any credible scientific evidence to support it. The concept of changing one’s biological sex is, of course, nonsense, as sex is determined by unalterable chromosomes. An individual can change his hormone levels and undergo surgery to better imitate the opposite sex, but a male on the day of his conception will remain a male on the day of his death. And as discussed below, the idea that there is a real personal trait called “gender” that challenges or invalidates the identity significance of biological sex is equally fallacious. But the absence of genuine evidence is simply ignored, and faux “evidence” is created to validate the mania.

So far. But there are signs of cracks in the grand edifice of transgenderism. As Dr. Malcolm warned in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” So does reality. At some point it will reassert itself, and we will ask how this ever could have happened.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology

(Law & Religion UK) Russell Sandberg–Religion and Civil Partnerships: The Next Steps in a Turbulent Saga

The third and fourth proposed changes therefore smack of overkill, especially since the role of religious groups in civil partnerships is different from that in relation to marriage. Indeed, paragraph 40 of the ‘Next Steps’ paper states that ‘as there is no Canon law of the Church of England or Church in Wales that would be affected by the civil partnership changes, there is no need for any protections relating to that law’. This misses the point a little. It is not a question of there not being any religious law on the matter or indeed any religious law which is part of the law of the land on the matter. The issue is that it is not a commonly recognised legal right to have civil partnerships solemnised in these two churches (as it is for marriages). On the surface, this creates the seemingly odd situation where there is a legal prohibition of the solemnisation of same sex marriage in these two Anglican churches but no such prohibition on civil partnerships. However, this anomaly is explained by the assumed legal duty upon these churches to solemnise marriages. This does mean that the Anglican churches may find themselves lobbied to conduct civil partnerships.

This all means that the protections proposed will afford religious organisations similar protection for conducting civil partnerships as they have for religious marriage, except in the case of the Anglican churches which will have no special treatment in relation to civil partnerships. The intention is clearly for these provisions to apply to opposite and same sex civil partnerships. That means that the religious protections concerning same sex civil partnerships will increase. Yet, no suggestion is made, let alone no evidence given, to suggest that the current protections in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 are inadequate. Rather, the cause of the change seems to be a lack of clarity about the different roles that religious groups play in relation to civil partnerships rather than marriage. This means that a familiar but an overly cautious ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach is yet again being taken.

The ‘Religious Protections’ chapter concludes by recognising the judgment in Ladele v London Borough of Islington [2009] EWCA (Civ) 1357 stating that ‘these protections will not apply to civil partnership registrars. They perform a secular function’ (para 41). It further clarifies that ‘a handful of religious ministers are also designated as civil partnership registrars, and when they are performing this secular function they will not be able to refuse on faith or belief grounds’. This perpetuates a distinction between a religious ceremony and a civil legal act of registration. It may well be time to refashion outmoded marriage laws in order to insist upon such a neat distinction there.

Indeed, although there is nothing fundamentally unsound in the ‘Religious Protections’ section, it does include a number of confusions and inconsistencies that will be perpetuated if these next steps are taken. There seems to be a lack of clarity as to the role that religious groups have in civil partnerships rather than marriage. This has meant that the same sex marriage provisions are now being replicated rather than the same sex civil partnership provisions without any explanation or justification. Harmonisation of the laws on adult relationships is badly needed. The current law on marriage distinguishes between different religions and indeed gives special treatment to places of religious worship. Calls for humanist ceremonies to be legally recognised and concerns about unregistered Islamic marriages show that the current law is not fit for purpose. As Sharon Thompson and I argue, there is a pressing need for comprehensive reform of adult relationships, particularly the formalities required and cohabitation rights. As I have noted elsewhere, the recent announcement of a review of the Law Commission into weddings law is welcome but the varied and various piecemeal reforms underscore the need for a comprehensive harmonisation and reform programme.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Sky News) Man who gave birth loses anonymity in his bid to be registered as father on birth certificate

Mr [Freddy] McConnell has lived as a man for a number of years and was undergoing a number of treatments, but stopped taking testosterone as he wished to get pregnant.

He transitioned from female to male and was legally recognised as a man before giving birth to his child in 2018. Despite this, when he went to register the birth, the registrar said he could only be registered as the mother.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Sexuality, Women

(CBC) Anglican Church in Ottawa to continue performing same-sex marriages

[Bishop John] Chapman said he’s had conversations with other bishops who oppose same-sex marriage.

“It’s awkward,” he said. “It’s the kind of conversation with people who are entrenched in a particular point of view, and it goes as far as these conversations typically go.”

Chapman said he’s concerned the headlines stemming from Friday’s vote will give Canadians the wrong idea about the church.

“Morally, legally and emotionally, 85 per cent of the leadership of the church that gathered in Vancouver in the last week is affirming,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Vancouver Sun) Anglican Church rejects same-sex marriage in Vancouver vote

The Anglican Church of Canada has defeated a motion allowing for same-sex marriages, despite overwhelming support from both the denomination’s laity and clergy.

Had it passed, the motion would have changed the church’s definition of marriage, deleting the words “the union of a man and woman” from the canon and thus permitting clergy to officiate gay weddings.

The vote, which occurred late Friday night in Vancouver at the church’s general synod, required a two-thirds majority from each of the church’s three delegate groups: the laity, clergy, and bishops.

The laity voted 80.9 percent in favour, and the clergy 73.2 percent in favour.

But the bishops of Canada defeated the motion, with two abstaining and just 62.2 per cent voting in favour of the resolution, disappointing many of the church’s members.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AJ) Traditional definition of marriage stays after a canon amendment to allow for same-sex marriage narrowly fails to pass at Anglican Church of Canada General Synod

The Anglican Church of Canada will maintain its traditional definition of marriage after a vote to amend the marriage canon failed to pass at General Synod 2019.

The 42nd General Synod voted against Resolution A052-R2, which would have amended the marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriage, after the resolution failed to pass by a two-thirds majority in all three orders. While two-thirds of the Order of Laity (80.9%) and Order of Clergy (73.2%) voted in favour, less than the required two-thirds (62.2%) voted in favour of the resolution in the Order of Bishops.

The final results of the vote, which took place on the evening of July 12 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, were as follows: The Order of Laity saw 89 members (80.9%) vote Yes and 21 members (19.1%) vote No, with one abstention. The Order of Clergy had 60 members (73.2%) voting Yes, 22 members (26.8%) voting No, and two abstentions. In the Order of Bishops, 23 members (62.2%) voted Yes and 14 members (37.8%) voted No, with two abstentions.

The announcement of the result left many synod members visibly in shock. A scream could be heard. Many members began crying, and one young delegate ran out of the room in tears.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(The Week) Damon Linker–Liberals’ astonishingly radical shift on gender

As Andrew Sullivan has powerfully argued, the two positions are fundamentally incompatible. The first, which morally justifies same-sex marriage, presumes that biological sex and binary gender differences are real, that they matter, and that they can’t just be erased at will. The second, which Manjoo and many transgender activists embrace and espouse, presumes the opposite — that those differences can and should be immediately dissolved. To affirm the truth of both positions is to embrace incoherence.

But that assumes that we’re treating them as arguments. If, instead, we view them as expressions of what it can feel like at two different moments in a society devoted to the principle of individualism, they can be brought into a kind of alignment. Each is simply an expression of rebellion against a different but equally intolerable constraint on the individual. All that’s changed is the object of rebellion.

Will Manjoo’s call for liberation from the tyranny of the gender binary catch on in the way that the push for same-sex marriage did before it? I have no idea. What I do know is that, whatever happens, it’s likely to be followed by another undoubtedly very different crusade in the name of individual freedom, and then another, and another, as our society (and others like it) continues to work through the logic of its devotion to the principle of individualism.

The only thing that could halt the process is the rejection of that principle altogether.

Read it all and make sure to follow all the links.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology

(CT) Celibate Gay Christians: Neither Shockingly Conservative nor Worryingly Liberal

Researchers Mark Yarhouse and Olya Zaporozhets step bravely (foolishly?) into this battleground with their comprehensive study of people like me: Costly Obedience: What We Can Learn from the Celibate Gay Christian Community. It’s an important book with an academic feel that grows more pastoral as you read on. Yarhouse has written multiple volumes on LGBTQ experience based on careful research from the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity at Regent University in Virginia, where both of the authors teach. I wouldn’t agree with everything he’s ever written, but I thank God for the gracious tenor of his contributions.

This newest book is essentially a listening exercise, based on an in-depth survey of celibate gay Christians. You hear their stories of milestone events and experiences in church life and ministry—as well as research that maps their mental health outcomes and relational challenges. But they are not the only voices recorded: There’s also input from friends, along with some fascinating insights into the perspectives of some evangelical pastors. The authors helpfully add their own measured reflections.

Certain conversation topics could prove controversial. We hear differing thoughts, for instance, on such questions as the origins of same-sex attraction, the correct labels to use (is it “gay,” “same-sex attracted,” or something else?), the possibility of same-sex desires that aren’t wholly sinful, and the prospect of changing one’s sexual orientation. But one of the authors’ strongest points is the need to discuss these issues more carefully. They write, “Some church leaders and some celibate gay Christians seem to us, at times, to be describing two different things, rather than disagreeing on precisely the same thing.”

This appeal for a better conversation within evangelicalism couldn’t be timelier.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(CEN) Sheikh Dr Muhammad al-Hussain–Investigating institutional bullying within faith and interfaith organisations

One of my most difficult experiences as a perpetrator of fitna myself was at the 2014 General Meeting of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN).

A conglomeration of largely self-appointed “faith community representative bodies” and interfaith groups led by a Church of England bishop, the IFN has been funded over the years in millions of pounds by the taxpayer and enjoys privileged lobbying access to government.

Above all, the IFN embodies the vested interests of a monetised interfaith industry, and the project of the liberal Church of England hierarchy to reinvent itself as head boy of Eton for all UK faiths, just as England’s bishops chase continued political relevance in the face of the C of E’s own terminal decline in congregational numbers.

When I spoke publicly as a Muslim academic about the Inter Faith Network’s membership including the Islamic Foundation and Muslim Council of Britain, among whose founding leaders have been individuals convicted of genocide or linked to Jamaat-e-Islami Islamist networks overseas, it was the Methodist Director of the Lambeth Palaces ponsored Christian Muslim Forum who protested offence at the allegation that the IFN has members associated with extremism.

The written record shows how he demanded that my remarks as a Muslim cleric about Islamist extremism be expunged from the minutes of the meeting.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Guardian) Archbishop of Canterbury calls for mandatory reporting of sexual abuse

The archbishop of Canterbury has thrown his weight behind calls for the government to make the reporting of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults mandatory.

Justin Welby told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA): “I am convinced that we need to move to mandatory reporting for regulated activities.”

Regulated activities cover areas where professionals come into routine contact with children and vulnerable adults, such as teaching, healthcare and sporting activities. In a church context, this would cover clergy and youth leaders.

Survivors of clerical sexual abuse have argued that mandatory reporting of allegations or suspicions of abuse to statutory authorities is a vital component of effective child protection. They argue that a failure to comply should lead to criminal sanctions.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(PBS Newshour) The Epstein case is not an outlier. Child sex trafficking is ‘pervasive’ in the U.S.

Well, one of the important things to recognize is that, in the United States, the vast majority of sex trafficking cases actually involve American citizens.

From the federal data, we know that upwards of 80 percent of all confirmed sex trafficking cases involve U.S. citizens and up to 40 percent of those cases involve the sale of children. And so it’s an incredibly important American problem and one that’s happening in communities all throughout the country.

I think that one of the things that we’re hoping comes to light and that people are able to connect the dots between the Epstein case and child sex trafficking all across this nation is that it’s often very powerful men with means taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of some of our most marginalized young women and girls, oftentimes, kids who have experienced extreme childhood sexual abuse, kids who are from the child welfare system, runaways and homeless youth, and exploiting there vulnerabilities.

It’s actually a tactic that exploiters use, because they know that these are the kids that no one really cares about. They know that these are the kids who most often fall through the cracks and that, even if they do come forward, they are the kids who are least likely to be believed.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(CEN Editorial) The challenge of the Barmen Declaration for today

The Christian Church today faces severe challenges globally. In the ‘two thirds world’ it faces persecution of great severity, notably in cultures wishing to stress Islamic identity and practice such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Simply being a Christian brings daily hazards and vulnerability to accusation and attack. In the wealthy West the Church faces very different dangers, largely in the form of pressures to conform its faith to strong currents of cultural development. Society is said to affirm ‘diversity’ and yet at key points this diversity disappears to the detriment of traditional Christianity.

The astonishing rise of the transgender movement is a prime example, clashing as it does with the biblical assumption that the one significant distinction within the human race is that between a man and a woman, and this is part and parcel of the Christian understanding of creation. Now this distinction appears to be made secondary: gender is becoming a secondary matter of choice or preference.

Related to this issue is that of sexuality and the ever increasing demand by the state that children be schooled in an ethical framework that clashes with that of the Abrahamic faiths. The role of family and parental responsibility for this dimension of life is being removed or very fiercely diminished….

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sexuality

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Sex, gender and marriage in the C of E

Underlying the problems arising from contradictory statements, and the difference between civil and Church understandings of marriage, is the difference between biological sex and gender. The Church of England’s view of marriage as being between ‘one man and one women’ has usually been understood as a reference to biological sex—hence Christine Hardman’s answer to the question seems to assume that, since biological sex has not been changed by gender transition, the marriage is still believed to be valid. But the previous decision in 2004—that the notion of man and woman is understood with reference to the legal definition of gender—takes the opposite view. That was similar to the Government’s approach, in that prior to the 2013 Equal (Same-sex) Marriage Act, gender transition would lead to the dissolving of a marriage, since it was not possible in law for two people of the same gender in law to be married to each other—but it is worth noting that the Government here was only concerned with status in law, rather than questions of ontology and theology that the Church is more interested in.

In fact, the question was explicitly raised in the law around gender recognition. It is only possible to obtain a GRC for married people if they have obtained ‘spousal consent’; without this, the person would first have to get a divorce prior to applying for a certificate. (The Liberal Democrats opposed this idea, which would have meant that the spouse of someone undergoing gender transition would be forced into a same-sex marriage against their will.)

The term ‘gender’ with reference to the social manifestation of sex identity is relatively recent, having been coined in the 1950s by sexologist John Money. The term was taken up by feminists as a way of detaching biological sex from the (often rigid) expectations of social roles of the sexes. But with the rise of transgender ideology, the term has now been turned inward and used to refer to an ‘inner’ sense of sex identity—though without any real evidential basis in biological or psychological study. And this inward turn has ill-served feminists, since biological males who claim an ‘inner’ sense of being female can, under the legal mechanism of gender recognition, now enter social contexts that are limited to women only.

The Church of England is seeking to explore these complex questions around sexuality in a process called Living in Love and Faith (LLF). It is becoming ever clearer that this exploration will have to come to a view on the status of ‘gender’ in relation to biological sex: is it really a thing? how is it understood? how does it relate to biological sex as part of bodily human existence? does it have any theological status? And until that is done, I think the Church would be wise not to make any more ad hoc pronouncements about transgender issues.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) C of E Synod ‘lazy and incurious’ about safeguarding scandals

The General Synod has been “lazy and incurious” despite a wave of safeguarding scandals, a lay member said this week.

Martin Sewell, a representative from the diocese of Rochester, expressed disappointment that the Archbishops had declined a proposal to add to the agenda a motion welcoming a letter from the bishops of the diocese of Blackburn, which warned that Church’s mission was “fatally undermined” by the abuse crisis (News, 21 and 28 June).

He joined David Lamming, a lay member from St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, in making the proposal.

“At a time when the Church is nosediving into controversies over IICSA and Jonathan Fletcher, this motion was carefully designed to bring us together around a pastoral letter that prioritised repentance, humility, and genuine concern for victims,” Mr Sewell said on Monday. It deliberately sought support from General Synod, an institution that has historically been lazy and incurious as scandal after scandal broke. We never debate these matters properly.

“Instead we are left with a question for the Archbishops — ‘Don’t you want to hear what the elected representatives of the people of the Church have to say about all this?’”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

CoE General Synod Q&A — if my spouse has a sex change, are we still married in the eyes of the Church?

The Bishop of Newcastle to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops:

A. The Pastoral Advisory Group considered this question in the context of one specific case and I cannot comment here on the personal circumstances involved or draw a general theological principle from a single instance. However, we noted two important points. When a couple marry in church they promise before God to be faithful to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health – come what may, although we preach compassion if they find this too much to bear.

Secondly, never in the history of the church has divorce been actively recommended as the way to resolve a problem. We have always prioritised fidelity, reconciliation and forgiveness, with divorce as a concession when staying together proves humanl unbearable. In the light of those two points, if a couple wish to remain married after one partner has transitioned, who are we to put them asunder?

Read it all. Please note that there is also a [London] Times article (requires subscription) on this which appeared yesterday with the headline ‘Church accepts marriage between people of the same gender — with a catch’ which begins as follows:

The Church of England has given its blessing to marriage between two people of the same gender . . . but only if they were man and wife when they originally took their vows.

The church’s teachings state that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but bishops have now been asked to resolve a thorny question over the church’s position on opposite-sex married couples who remain married after one transitions to a new gender, thereby creating a same-gender couple of two men or two women.

A member of General Synod, Prudence Dailey, asked bishops: “Given that the Church of England’s teaching about marriage is that it is a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman, if one person in a couple undergoes gender transition, has consideration been given as to whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England?”

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(AC) Rod Dreyer–The Orwellian Sexual Revolution

Yesterday in our podcast interview, Ezra Klein asked me to explain why it is that when he looks at this blog, he sees lots of anxious material about LGBT stuff, when that kind of thing doesn’t appear in the actual life he lives as a New York liberal. It’s a fair question.

Here’s what I told him — or rather, the overall message you will have received from listening to the entire interview.

The Sexual Revolution is the most important social event of our era. It has overturned many of the structures, practices, and ways of thinking that ordered human life for ages and ages. It has radically changed the meaning of family, marriage, male, female, even what it means to be human. It is changing the way we use language, which itself changes the way we frame our experiences of the world. And its principles negate the Christian religion, which I passionately believe to be true. You cannot reconcile the Sexual Revolution to orthodox Christianity. You just can’t.

You can think this is a great thing, a terrible thing, or some of both, but what you cannot deny is that it is a momentous thing. Writing in the 1960s, sociologist Philip Rieff said it was a more radical revolution than the Bolshevik one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Language, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology