Category : Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Was Paul unclear in his teaching on sexuality?

The second issue is the confusion that has been created in the debate. It suits those who want to see the Church change its teaching for most members of the Church to say ‘It is all so complicated, and the Bible is not really as clear as I thought’. That climate is created by popularised arguments that ignore the whole range of evidence—and give no indication to their readers (who mostly won’t know how to assess this) that there are other issues that need to be considered. For example, I don’t suppose anyone reading Tallon’s article or watching his video will think to ask ‘But what is the cultural context of Paul? And how does his view connect with other Jewish critiques of pagan culture?’ since there is no hint that this might be an important issue. Tallon is right to offer a bibliography—but how many of his readers will actually look up the articles he cites, not least because David Wright’s is published in a specialist journal for which you have to have an expensive subscription? Atomising the debate—isolating one text from another, and isolating the texts from their context—is a common feature of such arguments, and they lead to confusion.

The third issue is our decision in the light of what Paul says. E P Sanders is very interesting in this regard; like many other scholars, whilst he is clear about what Paul means, he does not see Paul’s view as in any sense binding on his own views as a Christian.

Paul’s vice lists are generally ignored in church polity and administration. Christian churches contain people who drink too much, who are greedy, who are deceitful, who quarrel, who gossip, who boast, who once rebelled against their parents, and who are foolish. Yet Paul’s vice lists condemn them all, just as much as they condemn people who engage in homosexual acts (p 372).

Sanders is spot on here: you cannot pick and choose, and if you take Paul seriously on one issue, you must surely take him seriously (or not) on all issues. Sanders’ conclusion is to treat them all as non-binding—but of course there is an alternative response available.

The fourth then is the question of our reception of gay people in terms of our pastoral response. Sanders makes some very interesting observations about the nature and use of Paul’s vice lists.

Homiletically, vice lists gain rhetorical force partly by length and partly by the equation of relatively minor sins with relatively major ones. It might be quite useful for a preacher to gain the audience’s support by condemning major sins (such as adultery and greed), but then to add that there are lots of sins…which are practiced by some of the people in the pews, and that these count as sins too…This has a healthily purgative effect. (p 338).

He also notes that Paul’s own pastoral strategy is not effected by the vice lists, since he handles actual examples of sin in a different way. Besides, the clear assumption is that the things he lists are now in the past: ‘such were some of you. But…’ (1 Cor 6.11). Sanders sums up:

The accusations in his vice lists are not actually directed at the sins of his converts at all (p 339).

Sanders goes further, noting the significance of Paul saying so little about SSS:

[H]omosexual practices are not very important in Paul’s letters. They figures in his vice lists, as do deceit and malice, but he does not elaborate on them; they are only items in a list. We must assume that he did not actually face a case in one of his congregations; if he had, we would hear a lot more about it. (p 345)

Paul’s language on this issue does not offer us a pastoral strategy for relating to gay people, within the church or outside. What it does do, though, is tell us clearly Paul’s understanding of the moral status of SSS, and with him the view both of Judaism and the early church, and following that most of Christian understanding down the centuries. The heated and (in my view unnecessary) debates about these clear texts not only sows confusion, it also makes gay people feel as though they are the subjects of these debates, which I think is unhelpful all round.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(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

(Sudbury.Com) In the Diocese of Algoma, No decision yet on same-sex marriage: Bishop says more consultation needed

Anglicans in this area who belong to the LGBT community and wish to be married in the church will have to wait a bit longer to find out whether or not that’s going to happen.

Earlier this month, a motion to add same-sex unions to Anglican Church of Canada laws was narrowly voted down at its General Synod.

To pass, the resolution required “yes” votes from two-thirds of each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops.

Eighty per cent of the lay delegates voted to adopt the motion, as did 73 per cent of the clergy. But the bishops were two votes shy of what was needed to enter the proposal into law.

But at the same national gathering, the church also decided to allow individual dioceses — including the local Diocese of Algoma — to make their own determinations on the matter.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Ian Paul’s full letter to the Editor of the Church Times in response to the misleading previous article on some C of E evangelicals and the marriage statement

(Please note that the first three sections of this letter to the editor WERE published in the Church Times, but not the last two; it is included here with Ian’s kind permission–KSH.

From the Revd Dr Ian Paul–First, no ‘senior members’ of the group resigned. You do mention two archdeacons, who might be styled ‘senior’ in terms of ministry, but they had no seniority within the group. The committee and leadership of EGGS were unanimously agreed on the proposed changes.

Secondly, the group was in no sense ‘split’. Of those who did vote against, a number agreed with the statement, but were not sure whether the timing was right. The fact that you can name only three people who have resigned from a membership of around 140 gives some indication of how united the group was.

Thirdly, you quote Ven Gavin Collins claiming that the new statement was a ‘very narrow formulation’. In fact, as was mentioned repeatedly in the debate at which Gavin was present, the statement did nothing more than restate the current teaching of the Church of England in its canon law and liturgy, and was in line with the stated view of the Anglican Communion. It is a strange day when an archdeacon can believe that the current teaching of the Church is ‘very narrow’.

Jayne Ozanne asks ‘Who is speaking for young people?’ She might want to note that members of the group include leaders from the churches with the largest youth ministries in the Church of England, as set out in an answer given during Synod questions that immediately preceded the EGGS meeting.

The fact that the vote was so clear offered an example to the Church of people finding unity in the truth, just as Jesus prayed in John 17. Many in the Church of England are desperate to hear someone in leadership in the Church actually speak up for the Church’s understanding of marriage and sexuality, and they will be heartened to read of the clarity of the EGGS position.

IAN PAUL
Member of General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council
Nottingham

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

An unfortunately misleading Church Times Article–‘Evangelicals on [General] Synod split over marriage statement’

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(CT) Canadian Anglicans to Continue Same-Sex Ceremonies, Even After Failed Vote

Though the Anglican Church in Canada last week failed to amend its canon to sanction same-sex marriages, in the wake of the narrow vote, dioceses have opted to continue with them anyway.

The amendment, first passed in 2016, required a two-thirds majority vote among lay delegates, clergy, and bishops at two triennial general synods in a row. While it met the threshold among lay and clergy (80.9% and 73.2%) during this year’s synod, the bishops’ vote last Friday fell just short of two-thirds (62.2%).

On Monday, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Primate of Canada, read a statement to the delegation saying the bishops “are not of one mind” on the issue, but that “we are walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage,” according to Anglican Planet.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

The Anglican Bp of Edmonton Writes Her Diocese about the Situation after the Canadian General Synod


Please note that there is an earlier letter there.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(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

A Message From the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada to General Synod 2019

Found here:

We, members of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, see the pain and anguish inflicted on LGBTQ2S+ people, on members of the General Synod, across the Church, and in the world, as a result of the work and the vote on the matter of Canon 21, concerning marriage. We see your tears, we hear your cries, and we weep with you. We have caused deep hurt. We are profoundly sorry.

Although the bishops are not of one mind, we look with hope to the “Word to the Church” and its affirmations which General Synod 2019 overwhelmingly approved on Friday, July 12.

We are walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage according to their contexts and convictions, sometimes described as “local option.”

Together, we affirm the inherent right of Indigenous peoples and communities to spiritual self-determination in their discernment and decisions in all matters.

Although we as bishops are not able to agree, in the name of Jesus Christ, we commit to conduct ourselves “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, 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

(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.

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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

(RU) A More Diverse, Conservative Anglicanism Is Growing

On a recent summer afternoon in a brownstone apartment, a Nigerian Christian man shared his experience with his church’s small group as an Anglican church-hunting in New England.

“I’m an Anglican at heart,” he said. “But I’m now attending a Baptist church.”

After visiting an Episcopal church downtown, he quickly realized that the doctrine they taught veered significantly from his home church in Nigeria. He’s not alone. Another Nigerian man in the same church shared that he left the Episcopal church he was attending because of teachings about sexuality and practices of the liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, among other differences.

Due to several schisms in the past several decades, the Anglican denomination is complex and difficult to understand, even for many within it. The Anglican Communion is a global association of churches with 85 million members in 165 countries connected to the Church of England. Their membership includes The Episcopal Church in the U.S, which has recognized same-sex marriages since 2015.

While Pride month festivities are increasingly common in U.S. cities to celebrate LGBTQ rights, conservative Anglicans are also a growing movement. About a decade ago, some churches split off over the mainline Anglicans ordaining bishops in same-sex relationships. They formed their own association, the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). These churches considered themselves a part of the Anglican Communion, but did not agree with the direction that many of the Western member churches were headed. Now, they are led in part by a Nigerian — Rev. Ben Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria — and Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America. Most Anglicans don’t know about the multiple break-offs, according to Rev. David Goodhew and Jeremy Bonner.

Some liberal Canadian Anglican churches had already started the ball rolling in 2002 by voting to allow bishops to bless same-sex unions. African and South American bishops reacted to this by starting their own conference — Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON. Now, while GAFCON still is primarily African, Asian and Australian members, it represents more than two-thirds of Anglicans worldwide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Church of Canada, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bishop David W Parsons–An open letter to my fellow Canadian Anglicans

I would be rejecting my ordination vows if I were to agree to redefining marriage and comply with the erroneous decision made at General Synod in 2016. Synods may change the definition of marriage, but that doesn’t change God’s definition of marriage. Synods may choose to walk without the wisdom of scripture, but that doesn’t make those synods wise decision-makers. It would not be wise to think that General Synod and the 68.4% of bishops who voted in favour of changing the church’s Marriage Canon are a majority. TheAnglican Church of Canada is marginal in size, representing only 0.65% of the Anglican Communion and only 0.025% of the Christian church worldwide. It is spiritually dangerous to follow this marginal segmentof the Christian church, those who think they alone have this prophetic message from God–a message that
calls us to turn from Scripture and follow them.

As for me, I choose to remain with the Word of God and represent the gospel in the confines of the traditional Biblical doctrines of the Diocese of The Arctic, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Communion, and the Holy Catholic Church and to walk with those who choose likewise. As for those who choose to reject the Word of God and the doctrines of the Anglican Church of Canada in our Book of Common Prayer, and the Doctrines and precepts of the Anglican Communion, and choose instead to develop their own worldly doctrines and humanistic theologies, they must do so on their own. I will treat them with love and respect but as those who have walked away from the doctrines of the Christian faith. I will pray for their repentance, but I will not walk in rebellion with them.

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

(David Ould) Grafton Synod Indicates Rejection of Both National Constitution and Bishops’ Agreement

As we reported last week, the Synod debated asking the General Synod to introduce same-sex marriage and blessing liturgies. That motion, as expected, was passed along with a number of related matters. What surprised some delegates at Synod was that the following motion was comprehensively defeated:

27. Standard of Worship and Doctrine

That this Synod affirms the authorised standard of worship and doctrine of the Anglican Church of Australia as set out in the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Constitution.

The motion was defeated in a vote by houses with approximately 2/3 of the delegates voting against. This represents a rejection of the fundamental position of the Anglican Church of Australia with respect to doctrine and worship. The synod of Grafton has essentially said “we’ll decide for ourselves what our doctrine and liturgy is”. Those speaking against the motion included the Dean, Greg Jenks.

One member of synod observed to davidould.net that,

Numerous people at lunch time were joking that they are no longer Anglicans and so they can do as they please. There was an air of triumphalism.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(AS) Dr. Priscilla Turner writes an open letter to Archbishop Melissa Skelton on the proposed new sexual morality

Secondly, we need to be fully aware that if the bizarre notion that people of the same sex can be married becomes embodied in a change to the Marriage Canon in our denomination, the ACoC will have departed not just from reason but from the Church Catholic. The cause will be complex, but will certainly include the fact that a majority both clerical and lay have voted out of a profound philosophical, theological and biblical naivety. People will vote at General Synod this summer, other things being equal, who believe some or all of the following falsehoods: That the Holy Scriptures are ambiguous about same-sex physical intimacy; that we may not know what were the convictions and practice of the Lord Jesus; that the phe­nomenon was different in the ancient world; that the behaviour of those with same-sex leanings is genet­ically pre-determined; that Christian love requires us to ‘bless’ same-sex ‘unions’; that people of the same sex can consummate sexually; and that all love may legitimately find an intimate physical ex­pression. As I wrote in my Brief to the national Commission: “It is important to note that none of these positions is held by serious biblical and theological professionals: for instance, even those very few scholars who hold that the Scriptures are mistaken acknowledge that they are wholly adverse to same-sex practice. For none of these positions has the case ever been made outside advocacy scholarship, for the very sound reason that such a case cannot be made, and the most positive thing that may be said of such views is that they are less than informed. That busy bishops and other leaders unequipped with the tools of the trade have not tested them is venial. What is less excusable is that our Church has not until now asked any of the tiny handful who are so equipped to contribute.” I am one of that tiny handful world­wide who are so equipped.

Read it all and follow all the links.

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

(David Ould) Grafton Synod to Debate Provision of Same-Sex Marriage Liturgy

The Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton, meeting this weekend 21-23 June, is to debate a motion asking the General Synod to implement same-sex marriage.

The full text of the motion, proposed by Dean Greg Jenks, is

24. That this Synod encourage the 2020 General Synod to adopt optional provisions for the blessing of civil marriages as well as an optional liturgy for the solemnization of Holy Matrimony where the parties to the marriage are of the same gender.

Moved: The Very Reverend Greg Jenks

Seconded: Canon Lee Archinal

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

David Ould–Archbp Justin Welby’s Compromised Leadership on Marriage at the Nairobi Press Conference

Highlights include:

1:27 Asked a question about the fallout surrounding the Lambeth Conference, Welby asserts “There has always been … controversy around the Lambeth Conference. It’s why we meet. Because when we meet together as opposed to when we not meet, not communicate, we’re able to listen to each other. And so we’ll see what happens at the Lambeth Conference when we get there”

2:19 “We just have to find a way of [preaching the gospel around the world] that respects each other’s difference and to love and show concern for each other.

3:11 On the question of human sexuality (driven by the fact that the Kenyan courts had just reiterated the definition of marriage as heterosexual): “The Bible is clear, and I’ve said on numerous occasions in public, that my own view of Christian marriage is the traditional view … that has always been the view of Christian marriage but I continue to work with – and in our changing culture in England – to listen very carefully to and to seek to be full of love for those who disagree with me. “

5:19 As Sapit responds to the same question we see Welby nodding in agreement, particularly as Sapit says “… our constitution state [sic.] very clearly that marriage is between a male and a female and that is the teaching of the church. That is what the Archbishop of Canterbury is referring to as the traditional view of Christian marriage; it is between a male and a female for life.”

Read it all and listen to all of the video content.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(LC) Will debate over embracing a New Sexual Ethic Affect Episcopal-Methodist Communion?

Nearly a century of ecumenical dialogue between Episcopalians and Methodists is approaching a crossroad. In May, United Methodist bishops cleared the way for a 2020 General Conference vote on a full communion agreement that would allow the two churches to share clergy. If the Methodists approve the proposal, the Episcopal Church could take it up at General Convention in 2021.

But the proposal faces new obstacles in the wake of the Methodists’ bitterly contested Special Conference in St. Louis in late February. At that meeting, the UMC reaffirmed its stance barring “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from ordained ministry and toughened sanctions for clergy who officiate at same-sex weddings.

Some now worry full communion could become a casualty of tense, politically charged times in churches at risk of breaking apart. But others say it is time to keep building on ecumenical momentum and not let sexuality debates interfere with a larger witness.

“There will have to be a great educational plan for people to understand it and to not let the one discussion derail the other discussion,” said Bishop Gregory Palmer, cochair of the Episcopal Church–United Methodist Dialogue Committee, which moved full communion forward at an April meeting in Austin.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Martin Davie–A response to Meg Warner ‘Does the Bible really say … that sex outside marriage is wrong?

What we have seen is that Dr Warner’s argument is misleading in several respects.

  • It is not the case that Deuteronomy 22:13-29 is the foundation for the biblical rejection of sex outside marriage:
  • It is not the case that what is said in depends on the idea that a woman ids the property of her father or her husband;
  • It is not the case that these verses simply echo the ideas of the surrounding culture;
  • It is not the case that Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29 are about a woman being married off to someone who has sexually assaulted her.

In addition Dr Warner has failed to acknowledge the way in which the actual foundation for biblical thinking about sexual ethics is the creation narrative in Geneses 1 and 2 and what St Paul says in Ephesians 5:32 about marriage being a reflection of Christ’s relationship with his Church.

For all these reasons her article does not make out a persuasive case for the Church to reconsider its traditional view that faithful Christian discipleship requires sexual abstinence outside marriage and sexual fidelity within it.

This does not mean that Christians today need to adopt the specific laws laid down in Deuteronomy 22. As Article VI says, is it not the case that the ‘civil precepts’ contained in the Old Testament ‘ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth.’ What it does means, as Oliver O’Donovan writes, is that as Christians we need to learn to see within this law (as within the Old Testament law as a whole) ‘a revelation of created order and the good to which all men are called, a ‘moral law’ by which every human being is claimed and which belongs fundamentally to men’s welfare.’

Read it all.

(img: Gilead Books)

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

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A growing row over the invitations to the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

It is only in recent times that invitations to the Lambeth Conference have become a matter of controversy. Until the last full conference in 1998, the Archbishop of Canterbury invited all diocesan bishops, and latterly suffragan and assistant bishops, together with their spouses to a conference in Canterbury.

It was never even thought that the Archbishop had the right to discriminate among bishops as to who had the right beliefs or pattern of Christian living. The assumption was that it was for each separate province of the Anglican Communion to appoint or elect bishops. The Archbishop had the power to invite but not to exclude individual bishops.

Of course, there have always been difficulties. During the 1980s and 1990s, when women were first appointed to the priesthood and episcopacy, there were some provinces that openly questioned whether they should attend Lambeth Conferences. Episcopacy is a universal ministry and the Anglican Communion’s unity depends on having a commonly accepted standard for ministry.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury issued invitations to all bishops, including women bishops. And the Anglican Communion managed to come together in spite of a degree of ‘impaired communion’ among the provinces and bishops.

The issue of sexuality proved much more intractable and controversial. And the reality is that for most evangelical Anglicans in particular, the issue of ordination of women was a secondary matter on which Christians could legitimately disagree. In contrast evangelicals view sexuality, and departing from God’s ordained order of marriage between a man and a woman, as a primary issue. This is because they argue that to agree to homosexual marriage is to defy the clear teaching of the Bible.

The ordination of a practising gay bishop in 2003 was described by a statement of an emergency Primates’ Meeting as a ‘tear in the fabric of the communion’. And so it proved to be. At no meeting since 2003 has there been full representation of bishops across the communion. And the Windsor Commission, led by Bishop Tom Wright, looked into the crisis and concluded that liberal provinces, such as the US and Canada, which had departed from Communion teaching on sexuality, would be disciplined by having ‘membership’ of the Communion and representation in its bodies limited.

This should have led to the exclusion of North American provinces from the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Instead, Archbishop Rowan Williams decided to rehabilitate the provinces which were broken with the Communion and invited their bishops. And then he broke with the practice of inviting all bishops and decided to exclude the gay bishop – Gene Robinson. This act of petty discrimination could easily have been avoided had he stuck to the Windsor principles and excluded all the Bishops of the US or Canada. Or he could have limited their role to that of observers.

As a result, at least one third of Anglican bishops refused to attend the Lambeth Conference, including all of the bishops from three of the most populous provinces: Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.

Archbishop Welby has stuck to the principle that it is not in his power to exclude individual bishops. As a result of this two practising homosexual bishops will be in attendance at the 2020 Lambeth Conference. But he has discriminated against their same-sex spouses.

This act of discrimination could land him into further trouble. It is all very well discriminating against a bishop, who chose that role for all it entailed, but to discriminate against their spouse is another matter. Modern culture will find it hard to forgive or forget such ‘cruelty’.

Interestingly enough at last week’s Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong, Archbishop Welby said that the Council was barred by English law from debating the invitations because ACC was governed by charity law and doctrine was not mentioned in its purpose. This is a clumsy and convoluted way to avoid debate of a difficult issue. And it didn’t work. Rancour over the decision spilled over into the final working session of the conference and Archbishop Welby stepped in and issued an apology.

“I ask your forgiveness where I made mistakes,” he said. With this somewhat ambiguous apology came a proposal to renew the Anglican Communion’s attempts to listen to the experiences of homosexual people (in accordance with the famous Lambeth Resolution 1.10).

But Archbishop Welby’s attempts to bring Anglican Bishops together at the next Lambeth Conference by discriminating against individuals will fail like those of Archbishop Williams in 2008. The Church of Nigeria has already said that it will not send bishops to the conference. And the Global south movement, ‘Gafcon’ is now organising a separate meeting in Rwanda in June 2020 for bishops who don’t attend Lambeth.

It is now time to stop pretending that the Anglican Communion can go back to pitching itself as a worldwide body of Christians. It is now a series of networks united by a common history. Our defining characteristics of a universal ministry and common worship are long gone, and even those so-called ‘instruments’ of communion are disputed and threadbare.

–This column appears in the Church of England Newspaper, May 10, 2019 edition on page 11; subscriptions are encouraged

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Instruments of Unity, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Phil Ashey–GAFCON Gathers Bishops In June 2020 To Guard And Proclaim The Faith

…there is one development I wish to comment on: the announcement of a GAFCON Bishops Conference June 8-14, 2020 in Kigali Rwanda (prior to the July 2020 Lambeth Conference).

Of the Lambeth 2020 Conference of Bishops, the GAFCON Primates wrote:

“We were reminded of the words of Jeremiah 6:14, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Last year in Jerusalem our delegates urged us not to attend Lambeth 2020 if godly order in the Communion had not been restored. They respectfully called upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to effect the necessary changes that fell within his power and responsibility.

We have not yet received a response from the Archbishop of Canterbury. We note that, as it currently stands, the conference is to include provinces who continue to violate Lambeth Resolution I.10 thereby putting the conference itself in violation of its own resolution: failing to uphold faithfulness in marriage and legitimising practices incompatible with Scripture. This incoherence further tears the fabric of the Anglican Communion and undermines the foundations for reconciliation.”

Let’s not forget the context. The 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops passed Resolution I.10 upholding faithfulness in marriage between one man and one woman for life, abstinence in all other cases, and rejected as incompatible with the Bible homosexual “practice,” the legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions and the ordination to Holy Orders of those in same-gender unions. This Resolution was passed by a vote of the overwhelming majority of bishops of the Anglican Communion (526-70).

Ten years later at the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury decided to suspend the practice of Anglican bishops declaring the official teaching of the Church through resolutions. For the first time, the Lambeth Conference engaged in small group Indaba discussions that resolved nothing. The 2002 institution of rites for the blessing of same sex unions in the Diocese of New Westminster (Canada) and the 2003 consecration of a Bishop in a same gender union in New Hampshire USA (TEC), in defiance of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) were allowed to stand unchallenged by the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Over 300 bishops….[declined to compromise the gospel and declined the invitation to attend] in protest of that advance decision by Canterbury, published the Jerusalem Declaration and formed Gafcon instead.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Instruments of Unity, Lambeth 2008, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Guardian Interview with activist the Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain

“In the past decade or so, I have seen and spoken to lots of young people who are trying to reconcile their sexuality and their faith, who end up self-harming, attempting suicide or who suffer with depression and mental illness,” says Foreshew-Cain. “Because if you believe God is condemning you for your essential being and that you have got to be something other than you are, where does that leave you?” He pauses. “Lizzie wasn’t the only one, and she won’t be the last.”

Statements from the most senior figures in the C of E have done little to ease his concerns. Welby, who recently announced that same-sex partners would not be invited to the Lambeth conference in 2020, while heterosexual spouses would, said he was pained by his decision and regretted the conflicts racking the church.

“Honestly, a lot of us in the queer community are very fed up with straight, white, cisgendered men talking about their suffering when they are inflicting it on other people,” says Foreshew-Cain. “It’s a bit like an abusive partner hitting you and saying: ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’”

The picture he paints is one of disorder, barely held together by a carefully cultivated ambiguity among the church’s top brass: bishops who quietly voice support for same-sex marriage behind closed doors vote against any liberalisation towards gay and lesbian clergy in the synod, he claims. Parishioners, tired of the endless debates, are abandoning a church at odds with itself. And young Anglicans, hoping to find acceptance and often succeeding in local parishes, are finding institutional debates about their place the source of intense pain.

Foreshew-Cain is sceptical that much will change – at least not until the conclusion of the next Lambeth conference in 2020. But a reckoning will come, and it seems the point of compromise is long past. “These campaigns are not going to go away. Gay people in the church are not going to go away. And the moral question mark over the integrity of the church is not going to go away. It’s only going to become more intense.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

The TEC Communion Partners recently released Communiqué

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Posted in Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

(David Ould) GAFCON affirms it won’t attend or observe The Partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

The GAFCON Primates consulted on the matter during their meeting this past week in Sydney and have written in response to Welby. While the contents of that letter have not been made public, I understand that they have made it very clear that the presence of those who participate in the consecration as bishops of actively partnered homosexuals, let alone the presence of those specific bishops, is in clear contravention of Resolution 1.10 Lambeth 98 and repeated calls for discipline from the Primates.

Beach also noted that Welby has sought to persuade conservatives to attend Lambeth by claiming that Resolution 1.10 will be reopened for debate and that if they do not attend, they may lose the vote. He went on to observe that continuous attendance at other meetings had simply failed to achieve anything and that “we’ve found that our voice is louder when we don’t attend certain events so we’re not manipulated from within them”.

Speaking to the matter a little later in the meeting, Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney pointed out that it was “incongruous” to not invite the spouses of those gay bishops when the bishops themselves were the issue. On the question of whether they would attend Lambeth he said “we’re going to remain firm”.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Australia / NZ, GAFCON, Instruments of Unity, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Andrew Goddard–Ethics and policy for invitations to the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

As a result of these actions not apparently having consequences in relation to Lambeth invitations, although over 500 bishops and nearly 400 spouses have accepted invitations, it seems likely that at least 200 bishops will decline to attend on principle while some attending may make clear their impaired or broken communion.

In relation to spouses, in a break with past practice they are being invited not to an overlapping Spouses’ Conference but to a single joint conference. It appears, however, that they will be excluded from certain parts of that conference and those spouses who are legally married to a bishop of the same sex are wholly excluded.

In relation to ecumenical observers, many (perhaps even most) Communion bishops invited to the Conference are formally in fuller communion with some of the churches in this category than they are with a number of the other Communion churches and bishops (while other Communion bishops are not in communion and in long-running legal battles with them over church property). It is unclear how their role at the Conference will be different from that of Communion bishops and their spouses.

If that were not confusing enough, when it comes to any decision-making at the Conference (about which there are at present no public details) one assumes that the spouses and ecumenical observers will not participate. However, neither will all Communion bishops unless there is a reversal of the decision of the Primates in 2016 and 2017. And so there is a further, perhaps even more contentious, decision about differences among invitations that needs to be drawn and defended at some point.

The former bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, wrote that the Communion “resembles a spilled bowl of spaghetti” and messiness will inevitably mark Lambeth 2020. There are, however, ways of thinking about, describing, and responding to our current mess (I think, for example, of The way of Anglican communion: Walking together before God drawing on Lambeth 1920) which offer a better path for the Lambeth Conference than that currently on offer in occasional official statements.

What we urgently need is the construction and articulation of a coherent and compelling vision that has theological and ecclesiological integrity, is honest about the painful lived reality of our common life, and is in continuity with the responses developed in recent decades and what the Communion’s General Secretary has recently summed up as “the principle of walking together at a distance as a means of recognising and addressing difference of understanding and practice across the Communion”. Once we have such a vision we can perhaps develop conviction policies on specifics and even find a way towards a “win-win” situation which has a greater possibility of reaching the Archbishop’s goal of “getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible”.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Instruments of Unity, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Archbp Justin Welby says ban of bishops spouses in same-sex marriages from the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020 was ‘painful’ but necessary

The American, Canadian and Scottish churches in the Anglican communion have backed same-sex marriage. Most Anglican churches, including from countries such as Uganda, remain firmly opposed.

Every Anglican bishop has been invited and they can all invite their spouses, with the exception of married gay bishops. It has prompted criticism from MPs, the Most Rev Michael Curry, the American bishop who preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the University of Kent, the conference host.

Speaking on a tour of the diocese of Peterborough, the archbishop said that he had met university bosses to discuss their concerns. He told The Times: “Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

He added: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(David Ould) Anglican Bishop Of Newcastle Proposes “Newcastle Way” On Marriage Question

At Bishop Peter’s own invitation we have asked him the following question:

You write that “the Bishop together with the Synod and Diocesan Council is responsible for the good order and government of this Diocese” and “I have some confidence that together we might be able to find a ‘Newcastle Way’ which will incorporate living with strong difference in an open and Godly way”,

1. Does the Diocese have the right and authority to act unilaterally in legislating for liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage even when such a position has repeatedly been rejected by the General Synod?

and

2. Are you willing to give your assent to such motions or legislation so that the “Newcastle Way” effectively means accomodating in “a loving way to express our shared life” such a move and the tensions it will bring?

Bishop Peter’s reply is as follows:

Q: Does the Diocese have the right and authority to act unilaterally in legislating for liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage even when such a position has repeatedly been rejected by the General Synod?
A: The legal situation in the Australian Church around liturgy and order is not clear. The Archbishop and Diocese of Sydney have set a significant precedent for unilateral action by authorising liturgies additional to the Book of Common Prayer, An Australian Prayer Book and A Prayer Book for Australia. Those liturgies not being authorised by the General Synod. They have also set significant precedent with the Archbishop unilaterally authorising Diaconal Administration of the Holy Communion. The latter not being authorised by the General Synod.
In this church, a resolution about doctrine by the General Synod is not determinative. Ultimately if doctrine is contested, the disagreement must be resolved by the Appellate Tribunal. That was the situation with the marriage of persons who have been previously married while their former spouse is still alive, the ordination of women and the order of the administration of the Holy Communion.
There were no proposals before the Newcastle Synod in 2018 of this kind. The Synod has shown a cautious but genuine desire to listen very attentively in the spirit of Lambeth 1:10.

Q: Are you willing to give your assent to such motions or legislation so that the “Newcastle Way” effectively means accomodating in “a loving way to express our shared life” such a move and the tensions (“strong difference”) it will bring?
A: In the Province of New South Wales the Bishop is not a member of the Synod meaning that a motion is an expression of the House of Clergy and the House of Laity as assembled at that time. The Bishop has no role in assenting to motions and motions do not bind the Bishop, unless moved in accordance with an Ordinance that has established such power.
In relation to legislation, the question significantly preempts any conversation or deliberation in which the Synod may engage. The Synod has heard my desire that the Diocese of Newcastle will be an expression of comprehensive Anglicanism. The next step for the Synod will include exploring how Christians who have theological differences live together. The work of the General Synod Doctrine Commission and the Diocesan Faith and Order Commission will be important parts of ensuring that the Synod and the Diocese continues to give prayerful, biblical and theological reflection to the life of the Diocese.
In relation to legislation, the role of the Diocesan Bishop is to listen to the Synod, the National Church and the Anglican Communion in exercising his or her mind around assent.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(CA) Stephen Noll–“Living in Love and Faith”: Tree or Billboard?

A colleague sent me a link to the “Living in Love and Faith” report to the General Synod of the Church of England, which is meeting later this month. For the uninitiated, the “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF) project is a massive exercise by the Church of England to tackle the thorny issue of human sexuality. The general supposition is that the LLF results will be forwarded to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, to be discussed in table groups (indaba), which in turn will conclude that Anglicans have a mixed bag of views on sex and marriage and that they have agreed to disagree. Such a result will in effect nullify the clear teaching of Lambeth 1998, which has been a touchstone for the Global South churches….

Despite its likening a book to a tree trunk, the entire report manages to avoid quoting the Book, the Bible, anywhere. Instead we get vague allusions to “creativity” and “hermeneutical understandings” and “situatedness of the gospel” and “ecclesiology in the context of difference.” The report makes no reference to Lambeth Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality and suggests that it will produce a deeper understanding of the interplay of “inherited teaching” on marriage and singleness with “emergent views.” (The word “deep” seems a favorite of the authors, reminding me of this ditty from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience: “If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me, Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!”)….

It seems that the current controversy in the Anglican Communion and Lambeth 2020 comes down to branding rights. On the one hand, I would commend the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality (300 words), the 2008 Jerusalem Statement and Declaration (2400 words) and the 2018 Gafcon “Letter to the Churches” (2500 words) as clear and concise statements of biblical teaching in the Anglican tradition. On the other hand, we have the ponderous Windsor Report (93 pages), the 2008 Lambeth Indaba (44 pages) and we are looking oh-so-so forward to the weighty multi-layered Oxbridge-endorsed LLF Project. Which of these “brands” will be fruitful for the future of the Gospel and mission of Christ to the nations?

The LLF likens its work to a tree. Well, it is a good metaphor. God’s Wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her” (Proverbs 3:18), and as noted in Joyce Kilmer’s verse: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”

But somehow, given this present update, I doubt the final Living in Love and Faith Report will be lively, lovely, or faithful. I suspect it may function more like the billboard in Ogden Nash’s “Song of the Road”:

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A decision that could torpedo the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

The reverberations of the decision to discriminate against same sex spouses by not allowing them to attend next year’s Lambeth Conference could threaten whether or not the conference can go ahead.

Readers will know that my view is that the Episcopal Church should not have been invited at all because it has broken the fabric of the communion by diverging on scripture, ethics and canonical marriage from the rest of the Communion. It has effectively put itself outside the communion and, in line with the Windsor Report, should play no part in the councils of the Communion.

At the 2008 conference, Rowan Williams departed from the previous practice of inviting all bishops of each province and instead discriminated against one particular [noncelibate] gay bishop by not inviting him. This time round, Justin Welby invited the gay and lesbian bishops but not their spouses. This is an even more invidious example of discrimination. And it does not work. There will still be some provinces of the Anglican Communion that do not attend.And that is because there is a theological problem- not a personal problem with one or two bishops and their partners.

And now questions are being asked in Parliament about this discrimination. The University of Kent is coming under fire from its students for hosting the Lambeth Conference when homosexual couples are subjected to such individual acts of discrimination.

Don’t expect this row to die away. I would be surprised if the Lambeth Conference could go ahead using that venue, unless decisive steps are taken to reverse recent decisions.

–This column appears in the Church of England Newspaper, march 29, 2019, edition, page 11, subscriptions are encouraged

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture