([London] Times) Gay Tory challenges ”˜intolerant’ Church

(Please note the following–it is their headline, not mine; also it is on the top left of the front page of the Times Ipad edition. As for the print edition it is on the top left above the fold and you can see a picture of it here–KSH).

An openly gay government minister today condemns the Church of England for its use of judgmental language on the divisive issue of same-sex marriage.

In an interview with The Times, Nick Herbert, who is in a civil partnership, said: “I consider myself to be a Christian and I’ve never in my life felt more distant from the Church than I do at the moment.”

The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice added: “I think that some Christian leaders have said things that, when heard by gay people, sound highly judgmental or intolerant. We all have to be careful of our language.”

Read it all (requires subscription).


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19 comments on “([London] Times) Gay Tory challenges ”˜intolerant’ Church

  1. Terry Tee says:

    This is the second time this minister has had a go at the Church. It is a sign, I am afraid, of the poverty of our political leadership that he cannot see how illogical he is being. Here it is, step by step:
    1) The Church of England makes a measured response to the proposal for gay marriage. In particular it raises a legal issue, namely that under equality laws, England would be vulnerable to many challenges, which would insist that the churches discriminated if they did not allow gay marriage. It would be a legal quagmire even if the initial law had exempted the churches, the Church of England being particulary vulnerable because its canon law is also statute law.
    2) These challenges would begin in local courts, but probably end up at the European Court at Strasbourg, which might overrule any English court.
    3) Although he is a Minister of Justice, amazingly, he does not engage with the legal argument. He accuses the Church of intolerance. He wants it to shut up.
    4) But who is being intolerant? Is it the Church, or is it a man who refuses to engage in reasoned argument on a controversial issue? And who is being judgemental? Is it the Church or is it a man who speaks from a lofty position to condemn others who have the temerity to argue against the cause du jour?

  2. c.r.seitz says:

    The homosexual community created a distinctive term for a distinctive state of affairs (‘Gay’) and it remains unclear why this cannot happen with what is argued to be the equivalent of ‘marriage’. Many in the GLBSQ community don’t want ‘marriage equivalence’ precisely on the grounds of distinctiveness.

  3. A Senior Priest says:

    I’ve known Nick for a long, long time. He’s a very traditional, and conventional, member of the “county” set in British society. He just wants to be like everyone else in his social world. His social world has fully incorporated gay and lesbian people into its system. The only thing lacking is a church wedding with all the trimming, just like everyone else he knows. That’s what Nick is really complaining about. He’s not a “theological” person, but rather a person who lives in his world, a big part of which is the Church of England in its social form.

  4. c.r.seitz says:

    That’s reassuring. Clearly a victim of an unjust system, unfairly upsetting ‘county’ life and its longeurs.

  5. A Senior Priest says:

    Nick is a social animal, not a theological one. He is a human being with a human heart who does not, cannot understand these in-group niceties. One merely must hold one’s ground on the point, patiently repeating again and again with genuine love and compassion, that with regret it’s simply not possible for the Church to authentically bless what the Bible explicitly condemns, despite the fact that he and Jason are perfectly wonderful people. And that last response, dear Prof Dr Fr, might appear to some, at least, as the reverse snobbery of the academic. As the son and grandson of professors, I’ve heard it for half a century.

  6. c.r.seitz says:

    #5 I’m confident you will know best in these matters.

  7. clarin says:

    #5: “nice but dim”, in other words. Well, you can go quite a long way with the help of a lot of money and expensive education. I am glad to hear of a Tory politician who is a “human being with a human heart” and not at all surprised by his lack of comprehension. As for how far Mr Herbert considerd himself a Christian (or knew what that meant), wasn’t he married with children before he met his boyfriend?

  8. A Senior Priest says:

    No, Nick has never been married, nor has children.

  9. A Senior Priest says:

    Nice, true. Dim, no…BA Magdalene College, Cambridge University in Law and Land Economy and so forth. While it’s convenient to demonize everyone who disagrees with the truths we find self-evident, what’s really true is that very few people are as bad and low-quality as we think. The rest are wrongheaded but well-meaning and really ought to be treated pastorally, as if we ourselves were actually Christians. Hebrew 5:1-2

  10. c.r.seitz says:

    “as if we ourselves were actually Christians” — yes, indeed.

    “what’s really true is that very few people are as bad and low-quality as we think” — do you think that? I most certainly don’t.

  11. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    A Senior Priest makes 3 Statements:
    [blockquote]A. He’s a very traditional, and conventional, member of the “county” set in British society.[/blockquote] which who knows, he may regard himself as part of.
    [blockquote]B. He just wants to be like everyone else in his social world.[/blockquote] again, why not?
    [blockquote]His social world has fully incorporated gay and lesbian people into its system. [/blockquote]

    Well – the smooth connection a Senior Priest makes between statements A,B and C needs looking at more carefully: A Mr Herbert believing himself to belong to a County set, rather than ‘the’ County set; B Mr Herbert’s wish to be just like everyone else; and C. a statement about the social world which Mr Herbert, and presumably a Senior Priest believes themselve to be part of. The assumption that the sector of society Mr Herbert and a Senior Priest believe themselves to belong to is the ‘County set’ rather than the subset they have hung out with does not follow. C may for them follow from A and B but that is not to say that C is true of the ‘County set’ rather than a subset they have hung out with. There have always been rather louche subgroups with somewhat questionable morals, but they do not necessarily reflect the body of that group, any more than the friends of Edward, Prince of Wales reflected those of the Court of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I am not sure that the views of the whole of the ‘County set’ smaller and more fluid than it was are necessarily reflected by Mr Herbert and a Senior Priest. Indeed some older and more establishment figures than those Mr Herbert is likely to hang out with are not in favour of altering the definition of marriage, although they will usually be courteous to people.

    I think that a Senior Priest is going to have to do a bit more legwork to establish his claims that he and Mr Herbert are representative of any particular group in society, whether or not they assume themselves to be so.

    I don’t think any of this makes any difference to the issue of whether the ‘Church’ is tolerant or intolerant, or as others would say will stand up for traditional marriage and the benefits of raising children in that family environment. Moreover, fortunately in the early 21st Century, the vote is more widely distributed than it was in former years, and the views of all sorts of voters count; as the Conservative Party found out in the recent elections.

  12. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    However, I do think that this statement:
    [blockquote]I consider myself to be a Christian and I’ve never in my life felt more distant from the Church than I do at the moment[/blockquote]
    sad as it is, certainly deserves some thought and compassion, and is not necessarily just related to frustration at not getting his own way with the Church of England. Prayers for Mr Herbert, and some people to come alongside him.

    There are considerable numbers of people, many of them Conservatives, who equally have never felt so far from the Government and the Conservative Party of which Mr Herbert is part as they do now, and the voting figures are showing it, but no doubt Mr Cameron, Mr Herbert et al will steam on, to the inevitable denouement.

  13. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Yup, minor public schoolboy, undemanding degree, no evidence of a rigorous intellect but a political animal, likes stuff to do with killing things and playing games, does some good work here and there, and will fit right in with the other vapid minor public schoolboys who hang around the No. 10 echo chamber making such a hash of things at the moment. Another day in the coalition, another group of voters to upset. Pasty tax, granny tax, forestry sell offs, aircraft carriers with no aircraft, gay marriage……why lose a few voters when you can alienate lots?

  14. A Senior Priest says:

    The problem is, I think, that in England legal marriage includes marriage in a C of E church. Unless the rules have changed (and I don’t think they have, but no doubt someone will find out) C of E parsons are required by to law to celebrate the weddings of any people who live within the bounds of their parishes unless the applicants are legally unable to get married in the first place. If the priest refuses to perform a marriage which legally is able to take place the bishop, I think, has to find a priest who will do it. I don’t see how it’s possible for same-sex marriages to be made legal without falling under that requirement. George Carey wrote an excellent article setting forth the problem in the wider Church-State context http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9326688/Gay-marriage-is-a-threat-to-the-bonds-of-Church-and-state.html On the other hand, government in the USA, not existing in hypostatic union with the Church (both existing and operating in England under the legal shadow of the Crown), can regulate marriage as it wishes without reference to ecclesiastical structures, which in turn are not required to perform weddings on behalf of the state. As to louchness and the like…while Pageantmaster is certainly one of my favorite commentaters he ought to take a look at Mr Herbert’s constituency of Arundel and South Downs, the bluest of the blue Parliamentary constituencies, which has never elected anyone not a Conservative. Times have changed, but in rural England there are many places where it hasn’t changed all so much in terms of where influence lies. To make it in that particular constituency a candidate would have to be accepted at the dinner tables of the Duke of Norfolk at Arundel, and Max Egremont at Petworth. One suspects that Norfolk, at least, would rather the current arrangements vis a vis marriage in England be maintained. I strongly dislike it that the Justice Minister should have paraded his private opinions in public (especially so because I fundamentally disagree with him). But then, everybody these days feels entitled to have public opinions when it comes to the Church.

  15. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I think a Senior Priest’s comments are on point with regard to the nexus of the established church and the law of marriage under the Marriage Act 1949, but although I am not priested, my understanding is that there is discretion on a priest with regard to marriage.

    Arundel is the seat of the Catholic Duke of Norfolk, and there are a lot of Catholics down there in the substantial and conservative diocese of Brighton and Arundel, although as the name implies, it is right next door to the very large gay communities of Brighton and Hove. I have no more knowledge of who gets invited to dinner at Arundel Castle and Petworth, than I know who gets invited round for pot luck round the kitchen table at No. 10

    Btw you can read the whole of the Times interview on Herbert’s website. No doubt he asked for permission from the digger before doing so, perhaps over supper.

  16. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Also, although the point on the legal problems with the status of marriage are important, I do think it misses the point. As Christians we should emphasise what we are for rather than against, and the general public are more open to that. It seems to me that marriage as it is is is a positive force, and is separate from most relationships capable of legal definition. Broadening the definition doesn’t make a gay partnership a marriage; it just means that marriage no longer means and has the character from which so many blessings flow for people, society and most particularly for children. I would rather see people putting the positive case for traditional marriage rather than defining it negatively against other distinct sorts of relationship. In doing so it becomes clear that it is precious with a character of its own which should be left to do for men and women what it has always done for them, and for their children.

  17. clarin says:

    #14: That’s what I meant by ‘nice but dim’. A modern Cameron Conservative, IOW.

  18. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Lord Carey has stepped in