Daily Archives: January 26, 2018

Martin Davie–A failure to take sex seriously: A response to GS Misc 1178

In the case of transgender people the questions currently under debate are whether it is right for them to:

  • live as members of the sex that is opposite to the sex of their bodies;
  • claim that the their true sex is male even though they are biologically female, or female even though they are biologically male;
  • claim that their true identity is neither male nor female, but is something else such as androgene, intergender, or pangender.[2]

From an orthodox Christian viewpoint these are not things that should be affirmed.

Scripture, reason and the Christian tradition teach us that in his goodness and wisdom God made human beings as a unity of body and soul. Rocks are purely material, angels are purely spiritual, but human beings are a unity of a material body and an immaterial soul. This unity means that we are our bodies and our bodies are us, which is why it makes sense to say I got up in the morning, I ate and drank, and I went to bed at night. All these are actions of the single self who is both body and soul.

It is as this unity of body and soul that we are either male or female. To be male or female is to have certain bodily characteristics that are designed to enable us to fulfil God’s command to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28) by playing a particular role in the procreation and nurture of children.

Although death leads to a separation of the body and the soul, so fundamental are our bodies to who we are that God will resurrect our bodies at the end of time so that we will exist for all eternity as the male and female human beings God created us to be (see 1 Corinthians 15)….

At the root of the problems with the paper is a failure to take sex seriously. The bishops fail to recognise that a person’s sex, given by God and determined by their biology, is a fundamental part of who people are. We cannot escape our sex and, because it is a gift given to us by God, we should not wish to escape from it, however psychologically troubling it may be for us. Developing rites that suggest that people can escape their sex, and that it is right for them to do so, is thus completely the wrong direction for the Church of England to go in.

What the Church of England needs to do instead is (a) to produce clear teaching explaining the nature of our sexual identity and why this is a good gift from God and (b) to develop the resources which are at the moment sadly lacking to help clergy and others provide transgender people with effective pastoral care that will help them to live as the people God created them to be.

Read it all.

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

Professor of Christian History at Duke University Kate Bowler talks to Time Magazine About Her Cancer Diagnosis and Her Faith

You are an expert in the history of health, wealth and happiness in American religion. Why do Americans see tragedies as tests of character?

It is one of the oldest stories Americans tell themselves about determination and some supernatural bootstraps. The double edge to the American Dream is that those who can’t make it have lost the test or have failed. The prosperity gospel is just a Christian version of that.

Did Christianity fail you?

Sometimes it felt like that, in part because of the stuff people said using the Christian faith to be incredibly trite. Christianity also saved the day. You really want a brave faith, one that says, in the midst of the crushing brokenness, there is the something else there, the undeniable, overwhelming love of God.

You’ve said one of the hardest things about being sick is other people trying to explain your suffering. What would you prefer?

People who hug you and give you impressive compliments that don’t feel like a eulogy. People who give you non-cancer-thematic gifts. People who just want to delight you, not try to fix you, and make you realize that it is just another beautiful day and there is usually something fun to do.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Seminary / Theological Education, Theodicy, Theology

(WSJ) Lou Weiss–The Jewish Arbor Day

Jewish tree huggers have their own official holiday, and this year it begins next Tuesday. Tu B’Shvat, literally the 15th day of the Jewish lunar month of Shevat, marks the day when all trees become one year older—at least for the purposes of their fruit being deemed suitable for tithing and eating. Many families and congregations celebrate by hosting a special meal with fruits from trees grown in Israel. Think of it as a Jewish and Israeli Arbor Day.

Trees are a big deal in Jewish liturgy. Jews refer to the Torah as a “Tree of Life.” In the center of the Garden of Eden, God put the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The latter provided some irresistible and fateful fruit.

The Torah describes the various species the Israelites encountered or planted. Acacia wood was the specification for the Ark of the Covenant and the poles with which it was carried. King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem featured cedar wood. Various books of the Torah mention at least 16 different tree species—not including the burning shrub Moses chatted with.

As important as trees are to Judaism, the faith still navigates nature without elevating it above humanity. It makes the case for an environmentalism that rightly puts people first. It is a sane alternative to placing “the environment” over every human benefit. This model of stewardship has much to offer today’s environmental policy debates.

Read it all.

Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(CEN) C of E General Synod to be asked to back rights of people with Down’s Syndrome

Next month’s General Synod will hear a call for the Government to improve the regulation of commercial providers of tests that determine a woman’s likelihood of having a child with Down’s Syndrome.

The call will come in a debate on ‘Valuing people with Down’s Syndrome’ on Saturday 10 February.

The Bishop of Carlisle will move a motion that encourages the Church to ensure that all parishes provide a ‘real welcome’ for people with the condition as well as their families.

Synod will be asked to ‘affirm the dignity and full humanity’ of people with the syndrome, but, reflecting the Church’s opposition to abortion, will call for ‘comprehensive, unbiased’information about it.

A background paper prepared for Synod members ahead of the 2.30pm debate notes that people with Down’s areliving longer than ever before, are receiving better healthcare and are experiencing better social inclusion.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell–The George Bell saga evidences a CofE legal culture which is not merely incompetent, but predisposed toward deception and injustice

Anyone can make a mistake. What I find mystifying within the church is why we seem to be intent on replicating many of the errors of the past without ever consulting those who have ‘been there, done that, and got the T-shirt’. When I have occasionally allowed my deep frustrations to be seen on the floor of the Synod, it is only because I am in the position of a bomb disposal officer holding the map of a mine field while nobody takes any notice and starts wandering around as they see fit. Bad things predictably happen.

The problem may be succinctly put: Archbishop Justin has a handful of advisors to guide him in these matters – not one of whom has a credible claim to expertise in this increasingly complex specialism. What is especially ironic is that, in the person of the President of Clergy Discipline Tribunals, Lord Andrew McFarlane QC, the Church of England has the country’s leading expert on Safeguarding Law. The legal tome Hershman and McFarlane’s Children Law and Practice is every child practitioner’s bible: it runs to four volumes and is updated every three months with interchangeable loose-leaf inserts. This is a fast evolving field for the specialist: what major institutions do not need is people from other disciplines doing their incompetent best.

When I suggested that the newly passed (and flawed) Clergy Risk Assessment scheme be referred to Sir Andrew to clarify whether “the victim must be believed” is a sound basis for good practice, I was told this was not the done thing, which was a shame. I knew Sir Andrew; I used to brief him. He is one of the kindest and least stuffy people you could ever wish to meet. I cannot believe that he would refuse our Archbishop a few wise words of counsel which he desperately needs at this time.

When I referred to the incompetence of the church in this field, the journalist asked if I could be quoted as saying that Archbishop Justin is incompetent, to which I replied: “Why would I expect an Archbishop to be competent in Safeguarding law?” That is partly why there is no point in seeking his replacement or a personal apology. He is a man of integrity. He rightly believes that we must change the church’s culture toward greater victim sensitivity, but where he is let down is by the lack of competent advice and a misreading of what a good outcome might look like. You do not create justice by reversing a bias against complainants and installing a bias against the accused. You especially do not improve the situation if you do this mindful that the new injustice might improve the church’s image.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Timothy and Titus and Silas

Just and merciful God, who in every generation hast raised up prophets, teachers and witnesses to summon the world to honor and praise thy holy Name: We give thanks for the calling of Timothy, Titus and Silas, whose gifts built up thy Church in the power of the Holy Spirit. Grant that we, too, may be living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory

O God of hope, fill us, we beseech thee, with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope by the power of thy Holy Spirit, and show forth our thankfulness to thee in trustful and courageous lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: Services of Praise and Prayer for Occasional Use in Churches (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

–Hebrews 10:19-25

Posted in Uncategorized