Category : Ethics / Moral Theology

(Telegraph) Prime Minister May: The Church should ‘reflect’ on allowing same-sex couples to marry

The Church of England should “reflect” on allowing same-sex couples to marry in church, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May also said her father, the Reverend Hubert Brasier, would have supported church blessings for gay couples.

In an interview for radio station LBC, the Prime Minister said she believed her father “very much valued the importance of relationships of people affirming those relationships and of seeing stability in relationships and people able to be together with people that they love”.

Asked whether she herself would like to see the law “evolve” she said it “had to be a matter for the Church”, adding: “the Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues, and obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes will generally change as society changes.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Robert Innes offers Reflections on the recently Concluded C of E General Synod

One of the things that would most effectively undermine the church’s mission would be a serious split over issues of human sexuality. Over the course of the long weekend, the Synod was bowled two difficult questions that would (again) test the church’s unity. Neither motion came from the bishops: one was a private member’s motion on ‘conversion therapy’, the other was a motion from Blackburn Diocese on ‘Welcoming Transgender People’. Both motions could be viewed as totemic of the relative influence of different groups or proxies for other issues. And, of course, both could be spun.

I have to say I found myself rather uncomfortable debating ‘conversion therapy’. The ethics of therapy offered to gay/lesbian people (and all the more transgender people) is something which challenges even those who are experts in their field. Only a very few members of synod have this kind of expertise. And I was nervous discussing a subject in the adversarial style of a full synod which bears upon issues affecting individuals and families so deeply and personally.

In the event, I think we managed to discuss the issue with openness and compassion. Two amendments had been proposed, both of which in my view significantly improved the original motion. One was defeated, the other was accepted. The final motion endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding signed up to by all the relevant professional bodies, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It can be found here. This MoU, describes ‘efforts that try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies as unethical and potentially harmful’. The motion was passed overwhelmingly.

The second issue in the sexuality area was a motion ‘recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church’ and calling on the House of Bishops to ‘consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition’. During this debate we heard several stories of people who had transitioned between gender identities, and of the mental anguish that gender variance can cause to an individual and their family/community. There was considerable debate as to how to best to respond. I felt the Bishop of Worcester expressed well the mind of the Synod when he said: ‘Our response needs to be loving and open and welcoming and the passing of this motion would be a very important factor in that.’ The motion was duly passed by a big majority.

I hope that gay, lesbian and transgender people feel reassured and encouraged by these votes. Neither vote changes the church’s doctrine….

Read it all.

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

(Deseret News) What the loss of a father in the home does to a child’s health

Children who grow up without a father in the home have shorter telomeres, the protective chromosome caps that are believed to affect health and longevity, a new study says.

The findings are particularly troublesome for boys, whose telomeres were 40 percent more affected than girls’ by the loss of their father.

The effect of father loss was most pronounced in children whose fathers died or were incarcerated before they turned 5, according to the study, published Tuesday in the medical journal Pediatrics. Nine-year-olds whose fathers are dead had a 16 percent reduction in telomere length, compared to children whose fathers are alive and living with their children.

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

(1st Things) Carl Trueman–The Church of England’s Nietzschean Proposal

In a world of change and flux, it is reassuring to know that some things remain the same. Take, for example, the motion passed by the Church of England General Synod, calling for a liturgy to help transgender people celebrate their transitions. This motion is consistent with liberal Protestantism’s age-old calling, that of baptizing the moral norms du jour of the respectable chattering classes, presumably in hopes of enhancing the appeal of religion to its cultured despisers. Transgenderism was bound for liturgical acceptance.

By now, experience should have taught even the moderately self-aware that, where religion is concerned, cultural relevance is a cruel mistress, always promising the Church a place at her table but never quite delivering. Alas, self-awareness has never been the strong suit of those liberal Protestants who have perfected the art of always being belatedly in support of whatever nonsense the sexual revolution is now declaring a self-evident truth that only a hate-filled bigot would deny. And so we have this liturgical proposal which, as with all liturgies, tells us a lot about the General Synod’s understanding of its church’s purpose. It points toward a view of the Church as offering a religious idiom for the therapeutic concerns of modern Western society. So far, so conventional.

But the proposal is actually far more sinister than the usual capitulation to the latest sexual hobby-horse. What is missing in this doubtless well-intentioned move is any reflection upon the deeper philosophical implications of transgenderism. To treat it as yet one more legitimate human choice, which can be included in the pantheon of human freedoms, is to miss the real issue. Transgenderism challenges traditional notions of human personhood at the deepest level. For that reason, it is perhaps appropriate to recognize transgenderism in a liturgy: A liturgy reveals a church’s deepest beliefs as it articulates the dialogical relationship between a people and God, and thus dramatizes who they are in relationship to each other. For the Christian, liturgy presupposes identity. Indeed, the Christian liturgy legitimates identity.

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

(Church Times) Bishop Peter Selby: Hearing the cries of the abused

THOSE of us who once bore the responsibilities that now rest on the shoulders of our successors will be praying for them as they struggle with the issues raised by the in­­dependent review of the Peter Ball case, chaired by Dame Moira Gibb….

They have not only to respond to the individuals who rightly expect that there will be an outpouring of compassion, repentance, and care. Their responsibilities are made the graver because this report illumin­ates a culture: one in which we, their predecessors, were in our time com­plicit, and for which, therefore, we remain accountable. Our prayers for all who bear these responsib­ilities now need to be characterised by self-examination, and, in particu­lar, examination of the part that we played in forming the communal life of the Church.

Survivors do not really trust that the Church of England is capable of the depth of change that is needed, and they ask that we entrust safe­guarding issues to some external body — a request as understandable as it is shocking. Has the Church really come to a point where it has to rely on the wisdom of others to make it a safe place for its vulner­able and its children? It seems so.

It seems that we — not just the individuals who are named, but all who have ever played a part in the formation of this Church’s culture — have to ask ourselves how this culture of abuse and cover-up ever came to be. Those who are the victims and survivors of it imagine, plausibly enough, that we must have sensed the culture within which we were operating, and which we chal­lenged too little, if at all. What they are rightly asking is how we failed to name that culture and give to the remedying of it our fullest energy of heart and mind.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

Al Mohler–The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson — You Might Be Next

Consider these lessons from Eugene Peterson’s ordeal.

First, there is nowhere to hide. Every pastor, every Christian leader, every author — even every believer — will have to answer the question. The question cannot simply be about same-sex marriage. The question is about whether or not the believer is willing to declare and defend God’s revealed plan for human sexuality and gender as clearly revealed in the Bible.

Second, you had better have your answer ready. Evasive, wandering, and inconclusive answers will be seen for what they are. Those who have fled for security to the house of evasion must know that the structure has crumbled. It always does.

Third, if you will stand for the Bible’s clear teachings on sexuality and gender, you had better be ready to answer the same way over and over and over again. The question will come back again and again, in hopes that you have finally decided to “get on the right side of history.” Faithfulness requires consistency — that “long obedience in the same direction.”
That is what it means to be a disciple of Christ, as Eugene Peterson has now taught us. In more ways than one.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) Mark Lukach–A moment that changed me: listening to, rather than trying to fix, my suicidal wife

“Doing something” meant reminding her of all the reasons it was worth staying alive – how good we had it, how much our families loved us, how much there was to look forward to. It almost became a script, a choreographed dance: she told me she felt suicidal; I tried to overwhelm her feelings with why she shouldn’t feel that way. It never convinced her of anything. But on that afternoon, exhaustion had beaten me down into shutting up. I sat quietly and held her hand.

She looked at me in surprise. Cautiously, she ventured with another thought. “I hate myself so much, and I want to die,” she said, and I said nothing.

“I wish I had never been born,” she said.

More silence.

She continued through her tortured feelings. I listened, and hated what I heard, but I knew that at this moment she was safe. We weren’t actually there on the bridge railing. We were at home, together, and there was no way she could act upon her pain. These were just words.

Read it all (used in the morning sermon by yours truly).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Mental Illness, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide

Saturday Morning Food for Thought–CS Lewis on Marriage

The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism-for that is what the words ‘one flesh’ would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact-just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined. The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.

As a consequence, Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There is, of course, a difference here between different Churches: some do not admit divorce at all; some allow it reluctantly in very special cases. It is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such a question; but for, an ordinary layman the thing to notice is that the Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world. I mean, they all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment. What they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another, or when either of them falls in love with someone else.

Before we consider this modern view in its relation to chastity, we must not forget to consider it in relation to another virtue, namely justice. Justice, as I said before, includes the keeping of promises. Now everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner till death. The duty of keeping that promise has no special connection with sexual morality: it is in the same position as any other promise. If, as modern people are always telling us, the sexual impulse is just like all our other impulses, then it ought to be treated like all our other impulses; and as their indulgence is controlled by our promises, so should its be. If, as I think, it is not like all our other impulses, but is morbidly inflamed, then we should be specially careful not to let it lead us into dishonesty.

–CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 16

Posted in Apologetics, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Goodbook) Sam Allberry–Same sex relationships: should we just agree to disagree?

Not taking a side on this issue is to take a side. To decide it is a matter of indifference is to risk having Jesus against you. Read the description of him in Revelation 1 and consider if you would ever want to risk that Jesus being against you.

This is a gospel issue. When so-called evangelical leaders argue for affirmation of gay relationships in the church, I’m not saying they’re not my kind of evangelical, I’m saying they are no kind of evangelical. This is not an easy position to hold, for I have friends who hold to different views on this subject. But it is the right position to hold. For the five reasons given above, we must never allow ourselves to think of this as just another issue Christians are free to differ over.

This will inevitably bring faithful Christians into conflict with our culture. When John Stott first published Issues Facing Christians Today, he said:

“I have sought with integrity to submit to the revelation of yesterday within the realities of today. It is not easy to combine loyalty to the past with sensitivity to the present. Yet this is our Christian calling: to live under the Word in the world.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Actually, Eugene Peterson Does Not Support Same-Sex Marriage

A day after a Religion News Service interview portrayed retired pastor and author Eugene Peterson as shifting to endorse same-sex marriage, the evangelical leader retracted his comment and upheld the traditional Christian stance instead.

“To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything,” he said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Peterson, best known for creating The Message Bible, also regrets the “confusion and bombast” in the fallout of his remarks, which were widely shared and commented on online yesterday.

Peterson stated:

Recently a reporter asked me whether my personal opinions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage have changed over the years. I presume I was asked this question because of my former career as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which recently affirmed homosexuality and began allowing its clergy to perform same-sex weddings. Having retired from the pastorate more than 25 years ago, I acknowledged to the reporter that I “haven’t had a lot of experience with it.”
To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(TGC) John Piper–How I Process the Moral Failures of My Historical Heroes

If you read a sermon—and say you don’t even know who wrote it—and the sermon ministers deeply to you. And then you find out that the person had serious sin in his life, does that nullify the spiritual effect of the truth? And the answer is it shouldn’t if there’s real biblical warrant for that truth.

And maybe the last thing to say in this inadequate answer is the Bible itself encourages us that God uses flawed people, even to write Scripture. I was just blown away recently by re-thinking the life of Moses. The last thing we encounter with Moses is God sternly saying, “You did not believe me at the waters. You struck the rock, you disobeyed me. You didn’t believe me. You will not enter into the promised land.” So here’s a man who’s writing the first five books of the Bible, forbidden from going into the promised land because his disobedience was so serious, God wouldn’t even let him set foot in the promised land.

And then you got Peter who, over there in Galatians 2, is deserting Gentile fellowship, totally out of sync with his own doctrine of justification by faith. And Paul has to get on his case to set him right again. And I love the book of 1 Peter. I love it. It’s true.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Peter Ould) Did the C of E General Synod Tear up the Rules of Anglicanism?

Listen to it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology

(Aleteia) David Mills–Social media: The fellowship of hating for fun

They may be good people, but they speak like jerks, at cookouts or on Twitter and Facebook. I can, as I’ve written before, look back at my past writing and find articles in which I said something almost as stupid and cruel as “addicts deserve to die.” I put it more indirectly and kindly, because I know how things sound, but the sweeping unkindness has been the same.

I also know the feeling when a dull conversation takes flight because you and the other guy settle on a shared enemy to put down. Years ago, when I was an…[Episcopal Church] activist, an elderly minister noted at the beginning of a board meeting how excited everyone got when they went from “How was your flight?” to the latest liberal outrage. He had done this himself and it bothered him now, and he wanted us to stop it. I felt ashamed, as he clearly felt ashamed, but I took years to really see what he meant.

All our saintliness must feel tempted to this Two Minutes Hate, at least when we’re with others. The answer is party to set a guard upon our mouths and a watch over the door of our lips, as the psalmist says (141:3). Or rather to ask God to do this for us, as the psalmist did, because in almost nothing is our fallenness made so clear as in our speech.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology

(FT) Investors, including the C of E, shine spotlight on coal groups over climate change risk

The world’s largest coal mining companies need to show how they will reduce their carbon emissions to meet global climate targets under the Paris accord, according to an investor-backed group led by the Church of England.

Only two of the 20 largest listed coal companies — Rio Tinto and Brazil’s Vale — have long-term targets for reducing their emissions, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Transition Pathway Initiative, a coalition of investment funds with £4tn under management.

Three coal companies, DMCI Holdings, Inner Mongolia Yitai Coal, and Shougang Fushan Resources Group, do not even acknowledge climate change, the study said. The report comes after the Paris climate change agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels came into effect last November.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh–The Gafcon Chairman’s July 2017 letter

Chicago was therefore a foretaste of what we can expect in Jerusalem as we gather in June 2018 on the tenth anniversary of the founding of this great movement and the publication of the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. Our theme is ‘Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations’ and invitations will be going out this month. We look forward with great eagerness to another wonderful gathering as we come together in true communion under the Word of God and in the power of the Spirit of God.

As a global family we do not want any to be excluded through lack of resources. We are looking to fund some bursaries for those in real need and I urge those of us who are materially blessed, whether as provinces, dioceses, parishes or individuals, to be generous so that our fellowship will not be hindered.

Gafcon began in 2008 as what my predeccesor, Archbishop Peter Akinola, described as a ‘rescue mission’ for the Anglican Communion. That rescue was not limited to North America. There is still much to do because history is repeating itself in other parts of the world, as the recent capitulation of the Scottish Episcopal Church to secular ideas about marriage has demonstrated.

False teaching is restless and relentless, and the Church of England itself is in grave spiritual danger. It is much to be regretted that there has been far more concern about alleged ‘boundary crossing’ than about the contempt of God’s Word that made a missionary bishop necessary. In fact, the Bishop of Edinburgh, who has strongly supported the Scottish Episcopal Church’s adoption of same sex ‘marriage’ was invited as a guest of honour to the Church of England’s July General Synod meeting.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Marriage & Family, Missions, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology, Theology: Scripture