Category : Marriage & Family

Away for the Weekend for a Major Family Wedding

We shall return Tuesday–thanks for your prayers; KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet, Easter, Harmon Family, Marriage & Family

Holy Week food for Thought from Keri Wyatt Kent

Patti and Bruce, feeling a tug from Jesus, welcomed a four-year-old foster child into their home. Originally the child welfare organization told them Jonathan would be staying with them and their four other children for about a month. Five months later, after a couple of attempts to place him back with his mother, he’s still living with Patti and Bruce.

The process has been messy and complicated. This little boy is sweet, charming, and winsome at times, but angry and confused at other times. So sometimes he cuddles and hugs, but other times he acts out: yelling, scratching, hitting, and even biting.

My friends have loved this child, even as he tries their patience, even as they sometimes despair over the difficulties his birth family faces: poverty, illness, and so on. When they tuck him in at night, they ask him, “Jonathan, when God looks at you, what does he say?” And they have taught him to answer, “He says, ‘I sure do love that little boy!’”

When Jonathan first came to them he did not know the answer to the question. In fact, in his little four-year-old heart, perhaps Jonathan’s circumstances caused him to assume that if God even looked at him at all, God would have said “there’s a bad boy, so bad his mommy had to send him away.” But that is not true. And so Patti and Bruce have taught Jonathan to replace the lies with the truth. And the truth is, God sure does love that little boy.”

–Keri Wyatt Kent, Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2012), pp.1-2, quoted by yours truly in the Sunday sermon

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Theology

(PD) Can We Still Reason Together? A Conversation with Robert P. George

SS: In a discussion about advocacy for traditional marriage, one Princeton graduate student told me that she was uncomfortable with the idea of trying to convince others to oppose same-sex marriage by appealing to social science or the kind of arguments you have articulated in What Is Marriage. Although she herself is Catholic, to this student, such an approach felt deceptive—like smuggling in religious precepts under the guise of neutrality and disinterested intellectual inquiry.

How would you respond to her? Is it intellectually honest to make arguments based on natural law or social science for positions you only hold because of your own religious faith?

RG: From your description of her, it sounds like the graduate student you were talking to doesn’t understand the teachings of her own Catholic faith when it comes to the nature of morality, moral questions, and moral judgments, including those concerning marriage. Catholicism self-consciously embraces and proposes a certain understanding of marriage and the norms shaping and protecting it for reasons—reasons that are in principle accessible to anyone, Catholic or not. The point of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense was to articulate, explain, and defend those reasons.

Catholicism is not a fideistic religion. Quite the opposite. Its basic view of marriage as conjugal union (and not a mere form of sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership), for example, is not a matter of “religious precepts” that we (or the pope, or the Church) know because God has communicated them to us only by special revelation. Your friend may happen to believe what she believes about marriage because that is what the Church believes and teaches; but the Church herself believes and teaches what she believes and teaches on the subject for reasons that by the Church’s own lights—and her teachings—are available to be understood by “disinterested intellectual inquiry.” These reasons are matters of natural law.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(TGC) Justin Taylor–Questions for David French on the Connections between the Atlanta Killer and Purity Culture

But what’s the evidence that the shooter, who would have been in youth group during the presidencies of Obama and Trump, was taught the toxic purity culture that peaked in the 1990s?

My argument is not “no evidence will ever or could ever exist,” but rather “no one actually knows, and therefore we shouldn’t draw that connection until and unless evidence emerges.”

If I was a betting man, I would actually put a hefty wager on this young man having heard the normative / traditional / orthodox teaching on sexuality that David French taught his youth group instead of the toxic legalism that Bill Gothard taught.

And if that’s true, then the argument of this piece basically falls apart. It could become a good standalone article on purity culture, but not a very illuminating one of the killer and his theological culture.

(By the way, if you want to hear from the church itself, you can read their statement.)

So my encouragement to everyone: let’s slow down on drawing connections that might seem obvious but are actually quite tenuous.

Read it all.

Update: Terry Mattingly also has helpful reflections Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Youth Ministry

David French–Why the Atlanta Massacre Triggered a Conversation About Purity Culture

As this conversation unfolds, it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, the purity culture I’m describing never fully captured the church. Millions of people have thankfully lived their entire Christian lives free from the extremes I’ve described above.

Second, however, it’s absolutely vital that Christians do not leave the task of confronting extremes to a secular world and media that is often hostile to (or doesn’t understand) Christian orthodoxy itself. The secular critique is typically all confrontation, no redemption.

The Christian response, however, requires both confrontation and redemption. It recognizes that Christ holds the answer when the church fails. As I’ve written before when addressing the failures and faults of the purity movement, through Christ even stories of past pain and suffering can be redeemed and transformed into instruments of grace and mercy.

Shortly after we received the first reports about the Atlanta killer’s motives, my friend and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Karen Swallow Prior tweeted two insightful words, “Culture cultivates.” A culture that defines a person by their sexual sin cultivates misery. When it places women in a position of guarding a man’s heart, it cultivates abuse. And sometimes, when a man’s heart is particularly dark, it can even cultivate murder.

The problem with purity culture is not Christianity. The problem with purity culture is that its extremes are not Christian at all.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Youth Ministry

Archbishops launch new Commission on Families and Households

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today announced a new commission to explore what support families and households need to flourish in today’s society.

This new Commission follows the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community, whose final report ‘Coming Home’ was published in February 2021. This new Commission will aim to build on that work, formally beginning its work in May and look to report in winter 2022.

The origin of the Commission lies in Archbishop Justin’s 2018 book ‘Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope’. Building on a key chapter, ‘Family – Caring for the Core’, the Commission aims to articulate and address the pressures and challenges facing families and households, whilst also highlighting the good and the positive in terms of what works well and how that can be built on, drawing on Christian tradition.

It will aim to offer practical and deliverable ideas on what enables families and households to thrive and prosper as the cornerstone of every community in our society.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Wash Post) Vaccinated lives: 5 health experts revel in simple pleasures

Andrew T. Pavia, professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases, University of Utah:

Pavia is fully vaccinated and his wife, who teaches at the University of Utah’s business school, is about to get her second shot. To celebrate, he said, the couple are planning their first potluck dinner with two other couples, who will all be vaccinated in the next two weeks.

“We’re excited about that,” Pavia said. “Until now, we’ve always gotten together outdoors, and doing that in Utah in the winter means lot of layers of down.”

They’re also eagerly awaiting a reunion with their daughter for the first time in more than a year. She is a physician like her father, and also vaccinated. She’s flying to Salt Lake City from Cincinnati, but the Delta Air Lines flight is only two hours, and the middle seats are being left empty, he said. Even for the vaccinated, there are some risks associated with travel because they may be able to get asymptomatic infection and transmit that to others. But she is young, vaccinated and otherwise healthy, Pavia said, and faces a low risk.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(City Journal) Bari Weiss–The Miseducation of America’s Elites

This Harvard-Westlake parents’ group is one of many organizing quietly around the country to fight what it describes as an ideological movement that has taken over their schools. This story is based on interviews with more than two dozen of these dissenters—teachers, parents, and children—at elite prep schools in two of the bluest states in the country: New York and California.

The parents in the backyard say that for every one of them, there are many more, too afraid to speak up. “I’ve talked to at least five couples who say: I get it. I think the way you do. I just don’t want the controversy right now,” related one mother. They are all eager for their story to be told—but not a single one would let me use their name. They worry about losing their jobs or hurting their children if their opposition to this ideology were known.

“The school can ask you to leave for any reason,” said one mother at Brentwood, another Los Angeles prep school. “Then you’ll be blacklisted from all the private schools and you’ll be known as a racist, which is worse than being called a murderer.”

One private school parent, born in a Communist nation, tells me: “I came to this country escaping the very same fear of retaliation that now my own child feels.” Another joked: “We need to feed our families. Oh, and pay $50,000 a year to have our children get indoctrinated.” A teacher in New York City put it most concisely: “To speak against this is to put all of your moral capital at risk.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Philosophy, Psychology, Theology

(ProPublica) The lost Year: What the Pandemic Cost Teenagers

As time has gone on, evidence has grown on one side of the equation: the harm being done to children by restricting their “circulation.” There is the well-documented fall-off in student academic performance at schools that have shifted to virtual learning, which, copious evidence now shows, is exacerbating racial and class divides in achievement. This toll has led a growing number of epidemiologists, pediatricians and other physicians to argue for reopening schools as broadly as possible, amid growing evidence that schools are not major venues for transmission of the virus.

As many of these experts have noted, the cost of restrictions on youth has gone beyond academics. The CDC found that the proportion of visits to the emergency room by adolescents between ages 12 and 17 that were mental-health-related increased 31% during the span of March to October 2020, compared with the same months in 2019. A study in the March 2021 issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, of people aged 11 to 21 visiting emergency rooms found “significantly higher” rates of “suicidal ideation” during the first half of 2020 (compared to 2019), as well as higher rates of suicide attempts, though the actual number of suicides remained flat.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sports, Teens / Youth

Statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding comments by the Primate of Nigeria

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(AC) Rod Dreher–Ryan T. Anderson Was Made For This Moment

When he was running for president, Joe Biden vowed to sign the Equality Act if elected. Now that both the House and the Senate are in the hands of Democrats, odds are that the Equality Act will pass. Why does this concern you?

First, thankfully, odds are still against the bill becoming law. If the legislative filibuster remains, the Equality Act goes nowhere in the Senate. If they somehow convince Senator Manchin to vote to remove the legislative filibuster, then we’re in a different situation. The question would then be whether Senator McConnell can keep all 50 republicans opposed (and early signs are good as Senator Collins has said she now opposes the Equality Act). That would then leave a 50-50 split with VP Harris casting the deciding vote—unless, of course, Senator Manchin broke ranks and opposed the bill.

Second, why is the Equality Act so disconcerting? My most recent short treatment can be found last week in the New York Post. But I’ve been writing about the harms of the Equality Act, and its predecessor the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, since 2013. In books, law review articles, essays, op-eds, white papers, etc. etc. my basic argument has been that it gets the nature of the human person wrong, and by enshrining a false anthropology into law it’ll cause serious harms. (Basic idea being straight from MLK, who was building on Aquinas and Augustine, that for man-made law to be just, it needs to embody the natural law and the eternal law.)

The equality act would take a just law—the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which banned discrimination on the basis of race, and then add “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” everywhere that race is protected. It expands the number of private businesses that would now be classified as public accommodations. And it explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). And it’s important to point out that because “sex” isn’t currently a protected class in Title II (public accommodations) or Title VI (federal funding recipients), by adding “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” to those titles the only religious liberty protections the Equality Act allows for would be those available to racists.

So the short answer is that the Equality Act treats people and institutions that believe we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other, as the legal equivalent of racists. And then all of the negative consequences for privacy and safety in single-sex facilities, for equality and fairness for athletics, for medicine when it comes to gender dysphoria (and abortion, see my NYPost op-ed) follow from that. If you get human nature wrong in law, there are consequences.

Because the vast majority of those consequences are not simply about “religious liberty,” the so-called Fairness for All alternative to the Equality Act isn’t actually fair, at all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(First Things) Hans Boersma on the recent ACNA kerfuffle over Christian anthropology and pastoral care

Whither the ACNA? Much will depend on its ability to keep the theological and the pastoral together.

First, we should avoid blaming our Christian heritage or the contemporary church for singling out the sin of homosexuality. Such self-blame is understandable: It is a way of dealing with the emotional hardship caused by same-sex attraction. But this introspection is, for the most part, unwarranted. Traditional Christian morality does not single out homosexuality, whereas making it part of one’s identity does. Besides, power roles have reversed: In today’s therapeutic culture, insisting on one’s gay identity mostly gets applauded, while it requires great courage to speak and write biblically about homosexuality. And while greed, adultery, etc. are all wrong, Scripture hardly supports the notion that all sins are of equal weight.

Third, we should keep in mind that the primary pastoral context of sin is alienation from God. If disordered sexual desires lead us away from a right relationship with God, then that is the key pastoral issue that we must address. The primary pastoral context, then, is not the feeling of exclusion from fellow believers as a result of sexual identity. It’s not that the latter doesn’t powerfully function; it obviously does. But it does so because of the way we have wedded sexual desire to human identity—a unique characteristic of today’s Western therapeutic culture. Carl Trueman’s recent book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, is a must-read to untangle the cultural web that we have spun for ourselves and a welcome antidote to the inexorable drift toward acceptance of disordered desire.

Please note, I am not encouraging us to ignore the pastoral. Quite the opposite: I am convinced we’re often not pastoral enough.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TLS) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: An air that says ‘go it!’–A poet’s huge but brief popularity

This biography hints at some possible reasons for Longfellow’s fascination with the hidden and obscured, such as his commitment to translation, and it also reveals a number of other ways in which his printed poems worked like icebergs: small blocks of text that emerged from the blank space of the page while hinting at much larger concerns under the surface. These include Longfellow’s methods of composition, which created paper trails of notes and drafts, and also the role played by his second wife Frances in helping him assemble works like The Poets and Poetry of Europe (1845), the first anthology of its kind to be published in America and further evidence of Longfellow’s conviction that lines of poetry should be viewed as bridges rather than barriers, forever reaching out for new human connections.

But as the title of this biography suggests, not every poem could find what it was looking for. In 1861, Longfellow’s wife died shortly after a horrible household accident in which her dress caught fire, and he was unable to smother the flames in time to save her. His own hands and face were so badly burned he was unable to attend her funeral, and the trademark bushy beard he later grew was partly an attempt to hide his visible scars. Yet the memory of his wife remained an open wound, and in a sonnet entitled “The Cross of Snow”, found among his papers after his death, he tried to put it into words. The inspiration for this poem was probably a comment from a mourner who expressed the hope that after his bereavement Longfellow would be able to “bear his cross”. His brother Samuel reported Longfellow’s response: “Bear the cross, yes; but what if one is stretched upon it!” Written eighteen years later, “The Cross of Snow” gave this feeling a permanent literary shape:

There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

In his Table-Talk (1857), Longfellow had pointed out that “Some sorrows are but footprints in the snow, which the genial sun effaces”, but in this unpublished poem he offered a chastening alternative. Some sorrows were as deep and lasting as permafrost.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Poetry & Literature

(NYT Op-ed) Esau McCaulley–My 6 Months as a Solo Parent

These past six months have been more exhausting than any other period of my life. There are times when my alarm goes off and I have little desire to move. I want to lie in bed and wish the world away, but there are four kids who need me. So I smile, open my bedroom door and welcome the chaos. I wonder how often my mother felt the same way. I remember noticing the strain in her laughter when I was a child, and now I understand the source.

Simple activities are logistical nightmares. If child care happens only during your work hours, how do you find space for ordinary errands like buying groceries? You either pay for child care while you do it or you drag four children to the market. I now understand my mother’s extensive instructions before we entered the store not to touch or ask for anything.

I have a network of friends and church members who provide meals and rides to band, baseball and soccer practice. My dean and co-workers have been understanding when I have had to leave a meeting early or not attend at all. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed how lonely solo parenting is. I go to work, come home and care for the kids. My interactions with other adults without children present have become nonexistent.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology

(CEN) Lockdown has benefits for marriage, says study

The number of couples considering divorce dropped by two-thirds compared to before the pandemic according to a new study.

The study, from the Marriage Foundation, looked at 3,005 parents who completed the UK Household Longitudinal Coronavirus survey from the ONS. The data, which covers the period up to the end of September found little change since June.

Just 1 per cent of married dads and 0.7 per cent of married mums said they were considering divorce. This compared to 0.6 per cent and 1.1 per cent in June. Both these figures were lower when compared to pre-COVID times. Asked the same question between 2017-19, an average of 2.5 per cent of married dads and 5.6 per cent of married mums said they were considering divorce.

Harry Benson, the Marriage Foundation’s Research Director commented: “This data busts the myth that there is going to be a divorce boom anytime soon. Both this study and the previous one, published last year suggests the opposite, that spending more time with your husband or wife is beneficial for many of the UK’s 12.8 million married couples.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

Heartwarming–(NBC) Daughter surprises father with news she’s cancer-free

Victoria Glosson’s viral video has more than 9 million views. The 22-year-old North Carolina woman told her father she was cancer-free.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(CBS 17) Sunday afternoon Inspiration–A 93-year-old veteran takes 3 buses almost every day to visit wife’s grave

“Ted Richardson is well-known up at the Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl — because he’s there so often.”

Watch it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family

(NBC) Lester Holt interviews the woman featured on the 2021 Toyota Super Bowl Ad, Jessica Long

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Russia, Sports

Tuesday Morning Mental Health Break–My Favourite Super Bowl ad this year–Jessica’s Story

Do take the time to watch it.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Russia, Sports

Remembering the remarkable Percy Julian

Percy Julian was one of the great scientists of the 20th century. In a chemistry career spanning four decades, he made many valuable discoveries, for which he was awarded dozens of patents, 18 honorary degrees, and membership to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences—only the second African American bestowed such an honor.

Yet Julian’s achievements as a trailblazer for Black chemists, while less well-known, are no less remarkable. Growing up when racial discrimination factored into every aspect of life for Blacks in America, from riding a bus to getting a job, Julian persevered to realize his dreams. And when he finally “arrived” as a successful chemist and businessman, he did not lose sight of the challenges that fellow Blacks still faced. He became a mentor to scores of young black chemists and, later in life, an inspiration for thousands as a civil-rights leader and speaker.

As the late Vernon Jarrett, one of the nation’s leading commentators on race relations, put it, “This man is Exhibit A of determination and never giving up. I think he’s a role model not only for blacks but for all races.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Austria, Education, History, Marriage & Family, Race/Race Relations, Science & Technology

(CT) Liuan Huska–For Churchgoing Families, More Kids Aren’t a Burden

Shaver and his colleagues recently published a paper exploring the effects of religious support on fertility and child development. They used ten years of data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which recruited over 14,000 pregnant women in England in the early 1990s to track ever since—on measures such as children’s lead exposure to number of illnesses to developmental ups and downs. From this data they tested how church attendance and social support affected family size and child development.

Unsurprisingly, they found that religious families had more children. They also found that, on the whole, the more siblings a child had, the shorter the child was and the lower his scores on state standardized achievement tests. This “tradeoff” falls in line with previous studies showing that larger family sizes dilute parental resources and affect child outcomes. But the finding didn’t hold for families with support from religious communities. In fact, Shaver and his colleagues found that religious support sometimes correlated with higher test scores.

These findings, Shaver wrote, suggest that religious communities overcome the tradeoffs between number of children and child success by sharing resources, a practice anthropologists call “alloparenting.” While the term is erudite, it’s something humans have done throughout history. Only in recent decades, as social and family connections have frayed, has it become less common.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family

For his Feast Day-Mike Aquilina: John Chrysostoms Discovery of the Blessings & Mysteries of Marriage

We could honestly and accurately describe it as a mystagogy of marriage. He wants us to move from the icon to the reality. Still, he insists that we must also learn to venerate the icon. “Learn the power of the type,” he says, “so that you may learn the strength of the truth.”

It is important for us to realize that John’s mature doctrine of marriage is almost unique in ancient Christianity. His contemporaries tended to look upon marriage as an institution that was passing away, as more and more Christians turned to celibacy. The best thing Jerome could say about marriage was that it produced future celibates. In Antioch in John’s day, there were 3,000 consecrated virgins and widows in a city of perhaps 250,000, and that number does not include the celibate men in brotherhoods or the hermits who filled the nearby mountains.

Yet John glorified marriage. It pained him that Christian couples continued to practice the old, obscene pagan wedding customs. So shameful were these practices that few couples dared to invite their parish priest to attend and give a blessing.

“Is the wedding then a theater?” he told them in a sermon. “It is a sacrament, a mystery, and a model of the Church of Christ. . . . They dance at pagan ceremonies; but at ours, silence and decorum should prevail, respect and modesty. Here a great mystery is accomplished.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Mark Yarnhouse–Reflections on The ACNA Pastoral Statement

Several years ago, when I was on sabbatical in Cambridge, I was asked to speak to a group of conservative clerics in London about research on sexual orientation and identity. I was delighted to learn that Wesley Hill was also speaking. Wes describes himself as a celibate gay Christian and I recall the graciousness with which the clerics received Wes, although they themselves had questions about such a designation. The spirit of the time together was that they had convened brothers and sisters in Christ to discuss what is often referred to as a traditional Christian sexual ethic and how that ethic intersects with scientific research and the lives of people actually living out that ethic in meaningful ways.

Reading through the recently published Pastoral Statement from the College of Bishops in the Anglican Church in North America on Sexuality and Identity reminded me of this event, perhaps because sections of the statement stand in contrast to some of what I experienced that day.

After the Preamble and Purpose, the statement itself address same-sex relationships, identity and transformation, and identity and language. Let me offer a few thoughts on each of these three sections….

Read it all.

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

Sexuality And Identity: A Pastoral Statement From ACNA The College Of Bishops

The Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) offer this pastoral statement to the Church after prayer, study, careful listening to disparate voices, and a collaborative process involving contributions from across the Province. As a result of this process, we have become even more acutely aware of the power we all need to live faithfully in Jesus Christ as He redeems the whole of our identity, including our sexuality.

The College of Bishops asked for the formation of this statement in January of 2020 after we heard reports of varied application among ACNA leaders regarding the use of language about sexual identity, especially within provincial events. We recognize there are a multiplicity of realities in our current national, political, and global circumstances into which an episcopal voice could be presented. In the midst of this tragic pandemic, we desire to continue to minister the Gospel into all aspects of our common life that have been distorted by sin such as racism, persecution, injustice, and violence, while also speaking to this specific issue of identity and sexuality. We hope this circumspect statement will speak pastorally to the issue of sexuality and the use of language within our provincial church.

Our foundation is the Scriptural truth that God made us male and female in His image—a profound unity with distinction (Genesis 1:27). God established marriage between male and female to fill the earth through procreation (Genesis 1:28). Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught that marriage is the model of God’s relation to humanity, the Church. It is a sacramental type of union by which humans work out their salvation with, and in, God’s grace. It requires a lifetime of commitment joined, blessed, and sustained by God between one man and one woman for the purposes of raising children and bearing the image of Christ’s relationship with the Church (Matthew 19:1-12, Ephesians 5:21-33). Yet, Jesus and Paul also extol, and themselves exemplify, the model of virginity for life and spirituality (2 Corinthians 11:1-2). They establish Christian celibacy as a normal, while less common, vocation of abstinent singleness for the sake of the kingdom (Matthew 19:1-12, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40).

Furthermore, we equally affirm, following Paul, that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We say, with Augustine, that this Fall has affected our lives in destructive ways that have disordered our affections. While same-sex attraction is one manifest type of disordered affection, there are many other types of disordered affections. Indeed, we recognize that same-sex sexual relationships have been an oft-targeted sin while other sinful manifestations of our common fallen nature, such as pornography, adultery, divorce, greed, and disregard for the poor have sometimes been tragically discounted or even ignored.

Read it all.

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

(PD) Timothy P. O’Malley–A Communion of Anxiety: Hookup Culture and the Impossible Horizon of the Future

For those of us who are married and with kids, these micro-transformations are most of our life. We change diapers, play endless games of horsey with toddlers, teach our kids to read and write, ask our teen the questions that matter, and endure the wrath of the same teen when we limit their use of a digital device. We do this because we hope in a future in which truth, goodness, and beauty will be passed on not by us but by our progeny. After all, we will be very dead. But the pursuit of wisdom will continue through our children, who hand on the gift of life to their children, and so on until a future generation knows us exclusively because of a seventh-grade family history project on the part of our great-great-great-great granddaughter.

All of this may seem a strange way to deal with hookup culture and an increasing fear of procreation. But if hookup culture and the anxiety of introducing children into this world is about fear of the future, then we must uphold the gift of commitment, stability, and those small acts of love that no human being will recognize as an accomplishment worth fêting.

It is precisely through these micro-transformations that a future will be created that is marked by generosity and communion. In other words, a future in which everyone will introduce children into a world that is very good.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

Kendall Harmon–Celebrating the Borrett’s Ministry at Christ Saint Paul’s

Kendall Harmon–Celebrating the Borrett's Ministry at Christ Saint Paul's

One of the great truths of our faith is that…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, History, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(NBC) South Carolina at its best–College football dream comes true for star running back

Watch it all.

“After spending time in and out of a children’s home, Nathan Harris-Waynick found his forever home at age 12. His forever family was there to cheer him on as he was accepted to the University of South Carolina and even offered a spot on the football team.”

Posted in * South Carolina, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sports

(NBC) Florida Restaurant Manager Saves Boy From Abuse, Police Say

“Flavaine Carvalho, sensing distress from an 11-year-old boy with his family, secretly flashed the boy a note asking him if he needed help. When the boy said yes, Carvalho called 911. The boy’s stepfather faces three charges of aggravated child abuse, and his mother faces two charges of child neglect.”

Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Violence

The story behind the Longfellow poem that became a Hymn–I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, A Carol for the Despairing

Like we do every year, my parents took my brother and me to see “A Christmas Carol” on stage to get everyone into the Christmas spirit (which is no small feat at the end of November). The story is familiar and heartwarming, but the song they ended their production with struck me: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Set to music a few decades later, this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was written over Christmas of either 1863 or 1864, in the middle of the bloodiest war in American history.

The carol is not cotton candy; it is a beating heart, laid bare in seven stanzas with simple language. At the second-to-last verse, I noticed dimly that I had begun to cry; by the end of the song, my face was wet with tears.

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’”

It isn’t quite right to call this a cynic’s carol, but in this verse it is a desperate and bitter one. It’s a carol from a man who has had the nature of the world uncovered before him. It’s one of the only carols that still rings true to me in 2018.

Like all good poets, with “Christmas Bells” Longfellow reached out across almost 155 years of history to take my hand.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Christmas, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces

Christmas Eve: A Life Remembered a message from South Carolina Anglican Bishop Mark Lawrence

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ….” Titus 2:11-13

Joshua Christopher Davidson first saw the light of day in December 1922, the third child of Jack and Helen Davidson. He was born at his parents’ home on Evans Avenue, and so close to midnight that no one could ever say if he was born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. He was baptized on the sixth day of January 1922 at St. Stephen’s Church on 8th Avenue near Walnut Street in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. He spent his first Christmas Eve 1923 at home with his mother and siblings, while his father, Jack, and his paternal grandparents attended the Midnight Communion service at St. Stephen’s.

1933 Josh was 11 years old. The Depression Years. In the spring of the year, FDR began his famous Fireside Chats. And although the average worker was making 60% less than the pre 1929 wages, the hope of the New Deal had somehow lifted peoples’ spirits in the Monongahela Valley. Young Josh sang that Christmas Eve in the Boys Choir. It was his first Christmas Eve at the Midnight Service—and if you had asked him years later, he would have told you it was the best Christmas of his childhood. When he opened his present on Christmas morning, he grinned from ear to ear. It was the pocketknife he had been admiring all fall every time he went into the five & dime. He spent the lion’s share of the day whittling a piece of wood into a miniature manger for the baby Jesus.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Children, Christmas, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry