Category : Marriage & Family

Latest Developments in the TEC Diocese of Albany (I)–A. S Haley offers an Analysis: Bishop Love’s Last Stand

In his letter, Bishop Love details seven grounds for his opposition to the directive in that 8th Resolve. For purposes of this post, I summarize them in point-form here, but be sure to read the whole thing:

  • First: B012 contradicts God’s intent for the sacrament of marriage as revealed through Holy Scripture;
  • Second: B012 is contrary to the 2000-year-old understanding of Christian marriage as still reflected in the rubrics of the BCP, and in the Canons of the Diocese of Albany;
  • Third: B012 “is doing a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman”;
  • Fourth: B012 encourages Episcopalians to engage in sexual behavior which is expressly forbidden in both the Old and New Testaments;
  • Fifth: By its false teaching and encouragement to sinful behavior, B012 is leading same-sex couples, as well as ECUSA itself, to come under God’s judgment (resulting in the precipitous decline in membership throughout the Church);
  • Sixth: B012 attempts to force Bishop Love to violate his ordination vows, as stated above, and would lead to schism and departures in his Diocese; and
  • Seventh: Succumbing to B012’s directive would render it impossible for Bishop Love to represent his diocese before the wider Anglican Communion and the whole world.

There is much more in the letter, including assurances to same-sex couples that scripture does not forbid close friendships or living together, only sexual intimacy (citing this article; see also the other resources linked on this page). As a consequence of the seven factors he identifies, Bishop Love closes his letter with this Pastoral Directive:

Until further notice, the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.

Thus the lines are drawn, and the conflict caused by the actions of General Convention now invades the hitherto peaceful diocese of Albany. For instance, could Presiding Bishop Michael Curry now try to exercise his supposed authority to issue a “Pastoral Directive” to Bishop Love, requiring that he make the trial rites available to any in his diocese that request them? (Note that Resolution B012’s mandate does not take effect Churchwide until December 1.)
As I pointed out in this earlier post, it is extremely doubtful that the enactment of the provision in Title IV that purports to confer upon the Presiding Bishop metropolitan authority over his episcopal colleagues can be squared with the grant of all ecclesiastical authority, by Article II.3 of ECUSA’s Constitution, to a bishop within his own diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

([London] Times) Ben Macintyre–Master race dystopia is closer than we think

In an essay published posthumously, Stephen Hawking warned that advances in genetic science would eventually create a generation of superhumans able to redesign and improve themselves by manipulating the genetic make-up of their offspring. “I am sure that during this century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression . . . Some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to diseases and length of life.”

In Hawking’s nightmarish vision, there will be stark genetic division in society: a biologically improving elite and a mass of “unimproved humans” without the power or resources to edit their genetic inheritance. “Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete.”

Many people already consistently improve themselves and their offspring, when they can, with private education, cosmetic surgery and advanced healthcare. If there is the opportunity to rig the science of reproduction in favour of an improved outcome, those who can afford it, will. The survival of the fittest occurs naturally; now it may be possible to control the same evolutionary process artificially.

Henry Greely, professor of law and genetics at Stanford, predicts that 20 to 40 years from now a majority of babies will be born by IVF, after being screened to ensure their embryos are the healthiest their parents could produce.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

Friday Mental Health Break–Mike Nichols and Elaine May’s skit of a son calling his mother on the phone

Posted in Children, Humor / Trivia, Marriage & Family

The Bishop of Central New York responds to the Bishop of Albany

All human love is a reflection of God’s love, and The Episcopal Church has resolved that the rite of marriage is open to all in our Church, regardless of sexuality or gender expression. The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York continues to uphold the policies of The Episcopal Church and is dedicated to Jesus Christ who commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Our dedication to our LBGTQ siblings was exemplified this past summer when priests and laypeople from across our Diocese marched in Pride parades and participated in Pride festivities in Syracuse, Binghamton and elsewhere. As the Diocesan Bishop, I am resolute in my affirmation of equality, dignity, and full inclusion for all people regardless of their political, social, or theological views. We are, first and foremost, people committed to the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus.

I recognize this is a challenging time and that some may have found the recent statement of Bishop Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany to be injurious. I want to be clear that God loves you and has created you as a blessing in our world. Each of us is called to be our authentic self, for only then can we truly be the beloved community God intends. I affirm marriage equality and stand as an ally for social justice for all persons. All of us—LGBTQ people, Bishop Love, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, and the people of this diocese—are beloved children of God….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The President of the House of Deputies’ Responds to Bishop Love’s Letter

From there:

For more than 40 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed, studied and discerned and, in doing so, we have seen the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of LGBT people. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, our highest temporal authority, first acknowledged that God calls LGBT people to any ordained ministry in 2009. In 2012, the General Convention authorized a liturgical rite for the blessing of same sex unions, and in 2015, we authorized marriage equality in the church.

We recognize the Holy Spirit at work in the marriages of LGBTQ people and we know that there are Christians who have been drawn further into fidelity and service to the world by living in committed same-sex partnerships and marriages based on holy love and the gift of seeing Christ in one another. When we celebrate these marriages, the entire church is blessed by the love and fidelity of these faithful couples.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, House of Deputies President, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gafcon) Stephen Noll–Secularism on the March: The Abolition of Marriage and Family

Now let’s turn from the biblical narrative and take a look at the narrative of secularism. I am going to cite several influential scholars, who articulate the ideas behind the ideology. Most people will not recognize their names, but their ideology is conveyed everywhere in sugar-coated form: in movies, in rock concerts, in advertising, and in social media.

Some twenty years ago, Professor Anthony Giddens, a noted sociologist and former Director of the London School of Economics, established himself as an evangelist of the Gospel of Sexual Intimacy with his book The Transformation of Intimacy. “Sexuality” and “intimacy,” according to Giddens, are terms that convey a revolutionary new meaning.

Giddens speaks not of “two sexes, one flesh” but rather of plastic sexuality. Giddens does not use “plastic sexuality” as a pejorative term, suggesting artificiality. On the contrary, it represents the emancipated varieties of sex “severed from its age-old integration with reproduction, kinship and the generations.” The two marks of plastic sexuality, Giddens observes, are female sexual autonomy and the flourishing of homosexuality.

The advent of plastic sexuality, he says, makes possible confluent love. Confluent love is an opening of one person to another for the purpose of self-realization and self-enhancement. Specifically, confluent love makes mutual sexual satisfaction the sine qua non of an intimate relationship. “Confluent love is active, contingent love, and therefore jars with the ‘for ever’, ‘one-and-only’ qualities of the romantic love complex.” Whereas romantic love fastens on one “special person,” confluent love is realized in one or more “special relationships.”

The kind of relationship formed by confluent love is termed by Prof. Giddens the pure relationship: “In the pure relationship, trust has no external supports and has to be developed on the basis of intimacy.” Intimacy or commitment in this sense must continually be negotiated in what Giddens calls a “rolling contract.” Lest intimacy slide into codependency, partners in a pure relationship must be willing to grow or break apart: “It is a feature of the pure relationship that it can be terminated more or less at will by either partner at any particular point.”

Read it all.

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

(Premier News) Leading atheist defends aborting babies with Down’s syndrome on Premier’s ‘Big Conversation’

Aborting unborn children who have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome is a justifiable act and one that could bring greater all-round happiness to individuals and families, a leading Princeton University professor has argued.

Peter Singer, who is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and a noted moral philosopher, admits he does not regard unborn babies as having the same value as mature humans or even some animals, until they have acquired the ability to reason and have preferences.

The debate, released today, explores the basis for the value ascribed to human life and whether morality is discovered as part of the fabric of the universe and grounded in a source beyond ourselves.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

(Christian Today) Jude Smith–For the sake of the poor, is it time for the Church of England to get out of the marriage business?

Today’s Budget will outline plans for couples to be able to legally marry in a wider variety of venues. The fact that this is in the Budget serves as a healthy reminder that for much of British history the legal institution of marriage has been a lot about money and power. For a fair while women were seen as chattels (as they remain in some parts of our diverse world). My own employer (the Church of England) is the child of an upsurge in new theology and the very practical desire of a king to increase his security and power. All of this came together in a fight about marriage and the emergence of a state church.

In our material culture most do not marry for money, but marriage has money implications. At an average of £30,000 a time, marriage is a significant industry. Philip Hammond’s proposals, allowing for civil ceremonies to be held outside and so on, are a ‘sort of’ attempt at reducing those costs. As a cynic I suggest that they are a sop to the couples who simply want their event to be more unique and Instagrammable than their friends’. However, on paper, they open up the possibility of couples being able to marry without prohibitive venue costs.

Some may argue that in such a world, the church needs to hold and hold fast to a ‘traditional’ or ‘biblical’ view of marriage, with ceremonies in sacred spaces that mix joy and solemnity, character and covenant. I feel duty bound to remind us that in the Bible most marriages were political, polygamous or both and that most of the New Testament either modelled single life (Jesus) or encouraged it for the sake of the Gospel….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry

(NBC) A Wonderful story about the Power of Generosity

When Kolbie Sanders called off her wedding weeks before the big day, she decided to make someone else’s dream come true, giving away her wedding venue to a complete stranger in need.

Watch it all.

Posted in Marriage & Family, Stewardship

(NPR) The Viral Obituary Of An Opioid Addict: ‘She’s Just One Face’ Of The Epidemic

[Kate] O’Neill thinks the pervasiveness of opioid addiction explains why her sister’s obit moved so many people. “It’s their story, or the story of their neighbor, or the story of their daughter, or the story of their coworker’s daughter,” she tells NPR’s Scott Simon.

Tragically, O’Neill says, the stigma of addiction all too often sets significant barriers to saving lives, even though nearly a third of Americans know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

O’Neill felt she couldn’t pay tribute to her sister without highlighting the realities of an addiction that began at age 16 when Linsenmeir first tried the prescription painkiller OxyContin at a high school party.

“That part of her life, it was so central to who she was as an adult,” she says. “Her addiction didn’t define her, but it did define the way she lived. To not include that would not have been an accurate honoring of who she was.”

“I want people to know that Maddie is one face of that,” she says. “So many people with addiction don’t resemble the photo [of Maddie],” she says. “Maddie didn’t resemble that photo when she was in the throes of her use.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Marriage & Family

(Bloomberg Quint) Almost Half of U.S. Births Happen Outside Marriage, Signaling Cultural Shift

An increasing number of births happen outside of marriage, signaling cultural and economic shifts that are here to stay, according to a new report from the United Nations.

Forty percent of all births in the U.S. now occur outside of wedlock, up from 10 percent in 1970, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest international provider of sexual and reproductive health services. That number is even higher in the European Union.

Read it all.

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

From Vermont, one Family’s devastating account of their daughter being lost to Opioid addiction: Madelyn Linsenmeir RIP

‘When she was 16, she moved with her parents from Vermont to Florida to attend a performing arts high school. Soon after she tried OxyContin for the first time at a high school party, and so began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.

It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her….’

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (IV): Surviving Church

There is of course the standard appeal to the 1998 Lambeth resolution 1.10. This is quoted in full to remind the reader that only ‘marriage as a union in a covenant of love marked by exclusivity and life-long commitment’ is to be regarded as the ‘teaching of Scripture’. Anything else will only be tolerated if it is ‘sexually abstinent’.

I found myself reading this letter with growing irritation. It represents an appeal to Scripture and traditional Anglican statements which will only work if the person doing the appealing is not familiar with Scripture. It is, in particular, the assumptions about what Scripture has to say about marriage that caught my attention. We have presented to us in the letter the idea that the Bible has but one model of sex and marriage that is commended by Scripture for all time. If we take the complete Bible as the uniquely inspired word of God, we encounter enormous problems in maintaining that there is this single model for sexual behaviour and marriage. Many of the assumptions about relationships between men and women in the Old Testament are, by today’s standards, criminal and totally unacceptable. Exodus 21 & 22 contains a number of divinely given commands which relate to relationships between the sexes that have been outlawed for centuries….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (III): Adrian Hastings

The whole letter is worth reading, because its warmth, compassion, reasonableness and discernment will soon be drowned out by a chorus of ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’. Indeed, it has already started…

For a moment there it seemed sensible to link to a number of tweets issued in response to this letter, which tell of Evangelical arrogance, self-righteousness, shallowness and judgmentalism. Yet merely to have drawn your attention to the authors of these tweets would have been met with a chorus of ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’. It is no longer possible to reason with some anti-Evangelical revisionists because (from experience) it simply isn’t worth the hassle.

The Church of England is manifestly divided on this matter (as, indeed, is Evanglicalism), and the Bishops of Carlisle, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone, Lancaster and (formerly) Shrewsbury are concerned that knee-jerk tweets alleging ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’ aren’t elevated above Scripture, catholicity and traditional morality:

We also believe that LLF must recognise and address the wider challenges in church and society to traditional Christian teaching. In recognising these wider challenges alongside the questions raised by LGBT+ people it is therefore important we do not lose sight of our common, shared humanity and the need for the church to offer a coherent, single ethic for all of us as people whose fundamental identity is not something we define for ourselves: rather that we are made in God’s image, have fallen captive to sin, are redeemed by Christ, and are being sanctified by the Spirit.

What this comes down to is that if the CofE’s “radical new Christian inclusion” doesn’t extend to full equality and full inclusion (ie, same-sex marriage), the church will continue to be ‘homophobic’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘hateful’. If, however, the “radical new Christian inclusion” extends to a fundamental change in the doctrine and liturgy of marriage to incorporate the union of two men or two women, it will cease to be faithful to Scripture or to traditional Christian morality (and so, some will aver, it will cease to be recognisably Christian). If you think the Prime Minister is between a rock and hard place with Brexit at the moment, just wait until the skubalon hits the flabellum when LLF finally reports in 2020.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (II): A Church Times Article

Eleven bishops, including four diocesans, have warned that a future pronouncement on sexuality may have “practical consequences” relating to the structure of the Anglican Communion and the Church of England.

The 1800-word letter, posted on the website of the Church of England Evangelical Council, is addressed to the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth. Dr Cocksworth chairs the co-ordinating group of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project, set up by the House of Bishops as an attempt to look more deeply into matters of sexuality after earlier attempts failed to heal divisions (News, 30 June 2017).

The project, which involves groups looking at the social, scientific, biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral aspects of sexuality, is expected to report back in early 2020.

The signatories to the letter (ten men and one woman) are the Bishops of Blackburn, Carlisle, Durham, and Peterborough, as well as the Suffragan or Area Bishops of Birkenhead, Lancaster, Ludlow, Maidstone, Plymouth, and Willesden; together with the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, formerly Bishop of Shrewsbury. The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, is the only signatory involved in the formal LLF discussions, as part of the pastoral advisory group.

The letter advises Dr Cocksworth and his colleagues against any sort of Anglican fudge, urging them to go beyond an evaluation of different perspectives. It calls instead for a “coherent, single ethic for all of us as people whose fundamental identity is not something we define for ourselves”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (I): A Christian Today Article

They warn any changes in that stance ‘will create major problems for many of us, both here and in the wider [Anglican] Communion’, declaring that ‘recent history tragically demonstrates that introducing changes in teaching and liturgy has consistently divided Anglicans globally and within provinces’.

The letter has been signed by the Bishops of Carlisle, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone and Lancaster, and by the former bishop of Shrewsbury. It is understood other evangelical bishops are also in agreement with its contents. It has been sent to Bishop Christopher Cocksworth, who is chairing the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ (LLF) project. This is aiming to tackle the ‘tough questions and the divisions among Christians’ over gender, marriage and sexuality. The project is due to report back in early 2020.

The eleven bishops pointedly comment that the Church of England’s current discussions are ‘taking place after the gathering of nearly 2,000 Anglicans from 50 countries at Gafcon’ – the international Anglican grouping emerging as a potential future alternative to the Anglican Communion. They also highlight how the US Episcopal Church has ‘struggled to enable the flourishing of those within it who remain committed to traditional biblical teaching’. Thus, they say, there is ‘importance for our unity of how we teach and learn on these contested matters’.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document on Marriage and Sexuality currently in Process

We are convinced that it is essential for LLF [Living in Love and Faith] to clearly articulate and explore the traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion. The form of this is what Lambeth 1920 called a “pure and chaste life before and after marriage” and is expressed in the received teaching of the Church of England and summarised, for example, in Canon B30, the 1987 General Synod motion, and numerous Lambeth resolutions, most notably Resolution I.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference. We believe that this vision of (1) sexual intercourse as “an act of total commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married relationship” (Lambeth 1988), (2) marriage as a union of a man and woman in a covenant of love marked by exclusivity and life-long commitment, and (3) faithful, sexually abstinent love in singleness and non-marital friendships, is the teaching of Scripture. It therefore expresses the character and will of God which is our guide in ordering our lives and in addressing public global ethical issues. We also believe that reaffirming this teaching offers us the best way of maintaining our unity-in-truth. We therefore hope that, as well as considering why this “traditional biblical teaching” (Lambeth 1988) is being questioned and rejected by some, LLF will clearly articulate it and commend it, explaining why it has been, and remains, a deeply-held conviction for most Christians. Here we believe it is vitally important that LLF help the Church of England engage with these issues ecumenically. We were encouraged that, in May, ARCIC III announced its forthcoming report “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church – Local, Regional, Universal” and is pursuing further work on its mandate to consider “how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Glenn Davies’ Presidential Address to the Diocese of Sydney

The reason why GAFCON came into existence is that parts of the Anglican Communion had departed from the doctrine of Christ. While the presenting issue was concerned with human sexuality, the underlying problem was the authority of Scripture. Furthermore, the so-called Instruments of Communion failed to address this departure from the faith ‘once for all delivered to the saints’. It is for this reason that a vast number of bishops, including the Archbishop and Assistant Bishops of the Diocese of Sydney, did not attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008. The doctrinal bond that held the Anglican Communion together had dissolved. Whereas previous Lambeth Conferences had expressed their mind through resolutions, which at least had moral force for all Anglican Provinces, in 2008 the conference was resolution-free. The agreed tenets of our Anglican faith were no longer held in common. The lure of the world’s values and the accommodation to the world’s view of human sexuality had broken the bonds of affection and the ties that bind. Echoing Ezekiel’s explanation as to the coming judgment of God upon Israel,

…for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed
to the standards of the nations around you. Ezekiel 11:12

GAFCON is a reforming instrument of the Anglican Communion and calls all faithful Anglicans to stand firm for the teaching of Christ, explicitly recorded in Matthew 19:1-12. Yet it is not a single focus movement. The establishment of nine strategic networks last June, from theological education to ministry to children and youth, reflects the global reach of GAFCON in seeking to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations. GAFCON is no threat to the Anglican Communion. It is only a threat to those who consider the Bible’s teaching on sexuality is outmoded and irrelevant, or to those who want to maintain a mere façade of unity, where no real unity exists. It is for this reason that the ‘Letter to the Churches’, overwhelmingly endorsed by the whole assembly of GAFCON 2018, expressed the view that attendance at the 2020 Lambeth Conference could not be contemplated, if bishops from those provinces who had departed from the teaching of Christ were invited. While I have a personal respect and affection for the Archbishop of Canterbury, he carries a grave responsibility upon his shoulders. If our Anglican Communion is merely defined by historical connections and heritage, rather than a doctrinally grounded commitment to Christ and the teaching of the Bible, then our koinōnia is not the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. GAFCON seeks to reform and renew the Anglican Communion by reclaiming its doctrinal foundations.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

E60 tells the incredible story of how Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach DelandMcCullough finds his biological parents

This is a must-not-miss-piece, take the time to watch it all.

Posted in Children, History, Marriage & Family, Sports

(IFS) Laurie DeRose–Cohabitation, Churning, and Children’s Diverging Destinies

I’m teaching a course at Georgetown this semester called “Family Diversity in America.” This week, my students are writing a short paper where they have to explain either how low incomes contribute to disadvantageous family situations, or how disadvantageous family situations contribute to low incomes. Heather Rackin and Christina Gibson-Davis would easily have gotten an “A” on my assignment because their recent study in the  Journal of Marriage and Family highlights one of the mechanisms through which today’s family patterns result in greater economic difficulties: cohabitation. Rackin and Gibson-Davis explain how the rise in cohabitation has disadvantaged children of lower and moderately-educated mothers more than children whose mothers have a college degree.

The authors use a term to describe a large volume of relationship turnovers that is fairly common in the academic literature: “churning,” which means lots of entrances and exits. I first learned of the term in the context of investments: an investment advisor who encourages you to change your market positions frequently can be suspected of wanting to benefit from churning, that is, in financial terms, to profit from the transaction fees themselves. While children certainly benefit from relationship transitions that remove them from abuse or lift them out of poverty, the evidence shows that kids who experience relationship churning typically pay a price (e.g., academic, economic, psychological, behavioral). Kids are not a party that pockets transaction fees.

What has happened over time in the U.S. is that disadvantaged kids have come to experience more relationship transitions and their associated costs. This is what we call diverging destinies: when socioeconomically disadvantaged kids are more likely to have experiences that impoverish—they started out behind richer kids, and their destinies diverged further because their family transitions tended to cost them, while richer kids were more likely to benefit from stability. If you were assigned the paper for my class, you would have to decide whether to write about how lower-income families face many barriers to stable marriage or how breaking up and re-forming families has costs of its own (e.g., lost economies of scale from break-ups or gained stress from forming complex families).

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(Tablet) Supreme court rules in favour of bakery in same-sex wedding cake case

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court found in favour of an appeal by Asher’s bakery in Belfast, reversing earlier decisions made in the Belfast County Court and court of appeal, which had ruled that the bakery discriminated against Mr Lee on the grounds of his sexual orientation.

Announcing the ruling, Supreme Court president, Lady Hale, said: “It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or any of the other protected personal characteristics.”

“But that is not what happened in this case and it does the project of equal treatment no favours to seek to extend it beyond its proper scope,” she continued.

She said that freedom of expression includes the right to “not to express an opinion which one does not hold”.

“This court has held that ‘nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe’”, she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–The Nature and Purpose of Marriage (Genesis 2)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sermons & Teachings

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s 1943 Sermon on marriage

God is guiding your marriage. Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to His glory, and calls into His kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more that something personal – it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. As you first gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

God makes your marriage indissoluble. ‘What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Matthew 19:6). God joins you together in marriage; it is His act, not yours. Do not confound your love for one another with God. God makes your marriage indissoluble, and protects it from every danger that may threaten it from within and without; He wills to be the guarantor of its indissolubility. It is a blessed thing to know that no power on earth, no temptation, no human frailty can dissolve what God holds together; indeed, anyone who knows that may say confidently: What God has joined together, can no man put asunder. Free from all anxiety that is always a characteristic of love, you can now say to each other with complete and confident assurance: We can never lose each other now; by the will of God we belong to each other till death.

Read it all ([emphasis mine] quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon).

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(IFS) Hugo Schwyzer–The Wages of Infidelity

I grew up in the 1970s, the “Me Decade” where, as David Frum so elegantly illustrated, the pursuit of personal fulfillment stood at the top of the pyramid of virtues. Divorce was hard on children, surely, but worth it because it gave adults the freedom to start over as often as it was necessary until they got it right. This was not something I grew up questioning, as to do so would have been to doubt the parents I adored. My father had found great happiness with his second wife, the woman for whom he left my mother. Even my mom, who remained friends with both my dad and my stepmother, praised the divorce as “freeing everyone up to be a little happier.”

For a host of reasons, I was confident (or at least hopeful) I could do what my own father had not, which was to stay enduringly faithful to one woman. I entered relationship after relationship, sure that I wouldn’t cheat. But sooner or later—usually sooner—I proved unfaithful. Every time I cheated for the first time, I would weep in shame and disappointment with myself. As the old detective’s adage goes, the second murder is a thousand times easier; with repetition, I numbed myself to what I saw as my own built-in, immutable failing.

From the breakup of my first marriage to the collapse of my fourth, I received two kinds of false (or at least unhelpful) advice from therapists, friends, and family members. The first set of misguided reassurance suggested that I was unfaithful because I had (once again) selected the wrong woman to marry. She was too demanding, or too withholding, or too undersexed, or perhaps she and I didn’t have the right chemistry. Once you find the “right woman,” these friends suggested, the urge to stray will vanish and an enduring contentment with monogamy will arrive. I never found that argument persuasive for long, but many people do—as if enduring fidelity becomes near-effortless once you’re matched with your soulmate.

The second type of bad advice suggested that I wasn’t cut out for monogamy in the first place…

Read it all.

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

(Christian Century) John Wahl from Ohio offers Reflections on Silence and Listening

From there:

My 12-year-old son, like many children with autism, is nonverbal. Through typing, writing, and signing, he is able to communicate many of his needs, though this patchwork of strategies still often leads to misinterpretation.

But one thing he knows how to tell me is when he is ready to walk. Most afternoons after school, or often early on Saturday mornings, we take walks together. Sometimes he listens to music to dull the sensory-interfering noises of the world, sometimes not. When time allows, we walk for miles and miles, often taking familiar routes in and around town, sometimes charting a new course. Side by side, and in silence, we walk. I discern this to be a part of my calling as a father.

The exercise is good for both of us, to be sure, but it also fills my soul. I am privileged to be there sometimes to guide and protect but also just to be alongside. Together, we experience both routine and surprise, stillness and movement, quiet and its varied interruptions. And there is mystery to be found in it all.

In other parts of my life as a pastor, I am not always so comfortable with silence. Sitting down to pray and meditate can be a challenge. I am prone to be thinking of the next meeting to attend, parishioner to visit, or sermon to write. In the quiet I fret about performance, worry about the future, dwell on all those many things that are so tempting to try to control. So often, it is so hard to just listen.

And so I walk. And my son, by walking with me, helps me embrace the quietness that we are allowed to share with one another. And in our shared silence I am reminded of the God who also walks alongside at all times and in all circumstances, the One who will speak if we are willing to listen.

John Wahl
Chagrin Falls, Ohio

quoted by yours truly in the Morning sermon (all of the essays on silence are commended to blog readers)–KSH.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Stuff) In New Zealand some parishes leave Anglican church over same-sex blessings

St Stephen’s Shirley vicar Jay Behan said the congregations voted to leave because they felt the motion could not be tolerated.

The decision was “sad” and not an easy one to make.

“We feel like we have been left behind,” he said.

“Synod has made a decision that we feel moved the church beyond where we can go. We haven’t changed in terms of doctrine and the things the church believes.

“The church’s belief has been that the Bible sets the standard for who we are and how to live and there is a feeling that we have moved away from that….”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Op-ed) Let Kids Play

“We’re in a climate where parents are feeling like they need to schedule every minute of structured time, and 30 percent of kindergartens offer no recess,” said Dr. Michael Yogman, chairman of the A.A.P. committee on psychosocial aspects of child family health and the lead author of the statement. To some, he said, “play is seen as irrelevant and old-fashioned.”

Dr. Benard Dreyer, the director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “The old saying is, play is the work of children. Play is the way they learn and the way they develop. It’s important to understand how all of us, and especially parents, can encourage play.”

“Kids develop 21st-century skills in play,” said Dr. Yogman, who is chief of the division of ambulatory pediatrics at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass. These include social and emotional skills and executive function, “skills that are crucial for adults in the new economy, that help them collaborate and innovate.”

A fundamental job in pediatric primary care is to strengthen the parent-child relationship, he said, and play is important in that area as well….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

John McCain RIP

In 1993, Mr. McCain gave the commencement address at Annapolis: the sorcerer’s apprentice, class of 1954, home to inspire the midshipmen. He spoke of Navy aviators hurled from the decks of pitching aircraft carriers, of Navy gunners blazing into the silhouettes of onrushing kamikazes, of trapped Marines battling overwhelming Chinese hordes in a breakout from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.

“I have spent time in the company of heroes,” he said. “I have watched men suffer the anguish of imprisonment, defy appalling cruelty until further resistance is impossible, break for a moment, then recover inhuman strength to defy their enemies once more. All these things and more I have seen. And so will you. I will go to my grave in gratitude to my Creator for allowing me to stand witness to such courage and honor. And so will you.

“My time is slipping by. Yours is fast approaching. You will know where your duty lies. You will know.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Senate

(The Courier) Split from the Scottish Episcopal Church over same-sex marriage is ‘very sad’, says incoming Bishop of Brechin

“The decision last summer was to come up with the process so that those who in conscience felt they really wanted equal marriage – as this church here does – were given a space to be able to marry people of the same gender. We created a space where those who, in conscience, felt they couldn’t do that, could also with integrity stay in the church.

“It is just sad (what has happened at St Thomas’) because the conversations over the years were to create a space where we could stay together.

“I know the Church of Scotland are trying to go down a route similar where each church, each congregation, each minister, can find a way to follow their own conscience. And a lot of the other Anglican communion churches are doing that as well.

“It is a secondary issue within the church.

“There is a danger that others in conscience may feel that they can’t carry on.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Scott Sauls–When Pastors Crash and Burn

Many of us pastors, including Spurgeon and including me, have fallen into the emotional abyss—not in spite of the fact that we are in ministry, but because we are in ministry.

Studies show that pastors experience anxiety and depression at a rate that is disproportionately high compared to the rest of the population. Due to the unique pressures associated with spiritual warfare, unrealistic expectations from congregants and oneself, the freedom many feel to criticize and gossip about pastors with zero accountability (especially in the digital age), failure to take time off for rest and replenishment, marriage and family tensions due to the demands of ministry, financial strains and self-comparison, pastors are prime candidates for relational isolation, emotional turmoil, and moral collapse.

Studies also show that some pastors face unreasonable, even impossible, demands placed on them by their people. I am NOT one of those pastors, thanks to a church that both receives my gifts and embraces my limitations. All in all, the people of Christ Presbyterian Church treat me with extraordinary love and kindness. But, sadly, not all pastors are as lucky as I am.

Dr. Thom Rainer, a leading pastoral ministry guru, once conducted a survey asking church members what they expected from their pastors. Specifically, Dr. Rainer wanted to know the minimum amount of time church members believed their pastors should give each week to various areas of ministry, including prayer, sermon preparation, outreach and evangelism, counseling, administrative tasks, visiting the sick, community involvement, denominational engagement, church meetings, worship services, and so on. On average, the minimum amount of time church members expected their pastors to give to the ministry was 114 hours per week.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture