Category : Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Fulcrum) Andrew Goddard–Synods, Sexuality and Symbolic and Seismic Shifts

Jayne Ozanne posted on Facebook that what had happened in Synod was “a seismic shift – inclusion is now mainstream!”. Whether or not that is the case and if so what is meant by “inclusion”, or, in the Archbishops’ words, “radical new Christian inclusion in the Church”, remains to be seen. We simply do not know the consequences if her hopes as to where this will lead prove accurate. However, there are signs that if they are realised then this could presage a fundamental realignment in Anglicanism including in England.

On the same day as Jayne’s FB post, Sean Doherty, the proposer of the failed amendment to her motion, posted “Here are two words I have not heard at #synod this weekend: Anglican Communion”. While not strictly true (it was briefly mentioned in relation to the Teaching Document) it does appear the Communion was largely forgotten. That is even more surprising, bordering on denial, given another Synod that took place only a few weeks before – that of ACNA. Although not part of the Anglican Communion, many leaders of Anglican Communion provinces were present and, even more significantly, they consecrated, against the wishes of the Archbishop of Canterbury, an English clergyman, Andy Lines, to serve as a missionary bishop within the British Isles. The symbolic, perhaps seismic, significance of this has it seems yet to sink in. It means we now face the prospect of a growing number of churches in England which, although clearly not part of the Church of England, self-identify as Anglican and have a very credible claim to such a designation as they are served by a bishop recognised by a large number (perhaps even the majority) of Anglicans worldwide. If the CofE continues to appear to be shaped more by its surrounding culture than theology and particularly if its bishops fail to clearly teach the sexual ethic supported by the wider Communion and summed up in the Higton motion then it may be that the ACNA Synod will come to be seen as representing an even more seismic shift than that which some hope and others fear occurred at General Synod.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Catholic Herald) Andrew Sabisky–Conservative Anglicans are close to despair. Is the CofE about to split?

Anyone with a lick of sense can see that the Church of England is in serious trouble. Congregational decline, child abuse scandals, and financially desperate cathedrals are just the most obvious symptoms of a very broad disease. As an Anglican, I have been confident that the Church would manage to turn things around in a few decades. After the most recent meeting of General Synod, however, I am no longer so confident.

On the face it, the Synod’s changes were all fairly minor. For all the fuss, the proposal to write official liturgies affirming the new gender identity of transgender people may well be ignored even by Church’s own bishops; and the changes on regulation of vestments merely rubber-stamps what already takes places across swathes of the Church.

But the most significant thing about the Synod was the manner in which it was conducted. The bishops stayed largely silent as Synod did theology by endless anecdote. The only notable episcopal contributions came from the liberal northern prelates (especially Paul Bayes of Liverpool). An outburst of anti-capitalism from the Archbishop of York provided comedy value amongst the general dour air of neo-Puritanism. The monotonous drumbeat of socialism and sexual liberalism was only broken by the ecumenical contribution of Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who warned Synod that it’s bad for PR and the soul to spend so much time talking about sex. His plea fell on deaf ears.

Read it all.

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

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Is The Church of England General Synod competent?

There are several reasons why these two motions should never have been debated. The first and most obvious is that both issues will certainly be addressed in the teaching document that the Archbishops have commissioned, so the motions are trying to short-circuit a wider discussion. The second is that both take the form of false binaries; essentially they say ‘Do you agree with me—or do you hate gay and transgender people?’ No matter how faulty the wording, failing to pass either motion would not have looked like good PR, and there would have been howls of protest from various quarters. In the voting, it was evident that the bishops were acutely aware of this, and taking both motions by a vote of houses (so that they had to pass separately in each of the bishops, clergy and laity) which would normally make it harder for a motion to pass, in fact made it easier, since the bishops could not afford to be seen to be the ones who were blocking.

The third reason was the poor wording of both motions. The PMM talked of ‘conversion therapy’ but used this as an ill-defined catch-all which made proper debate very difficult. Every single speaker, including those who proposed and supported significant amendments, agreed that any form of forced or coercive treatment of people who are same-sex attracted (whether they are happy with that or not) is abusive and must be rejected. But another part of Jayne Ozanne’s agenda is to have significant movements in the Church, including New Wine, Soul Survivor, HTB and Spring Harvest labelled as ‘spiritual abusive’ and therefore illegal. This is why the motion was seen as a Trojan horse. Her motion was also asking Synod to ‘endorse’ a medical opinion, and a controverted one at that, which is simply not within Synod’s competence to do so. But suggesting that Synod ‘does not have the competence’ to express a view is like holding up a red rag to a bull (or any colour rag—bulls are colour blind). In the end we passed an amended motion that ‘endorsed’ a different medical view—but few had read the details, still less understood the issues within it, and such endorsement is meaningless except as tokenism.

The transgender motion asked for the bishops to ‘consider whether’ they should formulate some new liturgy, and in one sense that is an empty statement; they might well ‘consider’ it for five minutes and decide not. But to even raised the question of liturgy, before we have any consensus of understanding on the issue, is putting the cart so far before the horse that the horse has lost sight of it.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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

(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.”

Read it all.

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

More Response to C of E General Synod (II)–Jem Bloomfield: Morality and Message: The Church of England, Young People, and LGBT Issues

For Christians like me, who are deeply attached to the Scriptures and the traditions of the Church, and who find their spiritual life in the liturgy and sacraments, this is a troubling distortion. Our commitment to inclusivity is not a compromise we have made between our faith and the situation we find ourselves in, it is a central part of what that faith can reveal to modern society. If the situation continues, I am concerned that many people will understandably see our inclusivity as proving that we are only sort of Christian, since “serious” Christians have to discriminate against LGBT people whether they like it or not.

To sum up, I am deeply concerned that our current situation is preventing thousands upon thousands of young people from hearing the Gospel. I have met some of them personally, and I am fairly sure that they represent large swathes of people in the same age group and situation. This issue is getting in the way of their interest in Christianity and their view of the faith. This is not a question of fitting our Christian witness to what people want to hear, but of taking seriously the message of reconciliation and repentance at the heart of the Gospel. The objections I come across from many young people to the Church of England are not selfish, self-indulgent or shallow, they are profoundly moral and based on a rather Biblical notion of justice.

Sending out signals is hugely important, I have learned. During my first years as a lecturer I did not have many students coming to me for pastoral advice, but that increased significantly as soon as I spoke publicly, in lectures or on my blog, on questions to do with gender justice and inclusivity. I quickly discovered that there were a number of people who needed to talk about these issues, and who were in distress about them. But I only found that out because I first made it clear that I cared about these issues, and made it clear that I was a safe person to discuss them with.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

More Response to C of E General Synod (I)–Rob Munro: Radical Christian Inclusion…?

General Synod felt like it reached the watershed this last long weekend.

Superficially we did the usual things: passing obscure legal provisions – for example, giving official permission not to have to wear robes at main services (which I realise you all have done faithfully up until now); the valiant effort to put something to do with mission on the agenda – this time with workshops on various National Church Initiatives like Thy Kingdom Come and the soon-to-be-revamped National Website. We even had the obligatory “current affairs” motion, this time from the Archbishops following the surprises at the General Election, generally calling for more prayer and appropriate lobbying – although the Archbishop of York tried to bring a last minute radical suggestion that Christians voluntarily paid more tax to the government to fund health and education, which flew for as long as most lead balloons. There were signs that something was amiss early on, when rather non-controversial amendments to the Archbishops’ proposal, which aimed to strengthen statements with regard to biblical and gospel priorities, were lost – but unless the Archbishop had backed them, which he didn’t for reasons of ‘simplicity’, it is hard to get them passed.

However, the watershed came apparent from the other seemingly obligatory controversial agenda items. This time, on conversion therapy and transsexual liturgy. The motions themselves were both subtle – we are all against abusive therapies, and we are all for welcoming all people including transsexuals; but the innocuous additions to the proposals were clearly designed to do more. The subtlety is that “conversion therapy” is an ill-defined term – it can mean just specific professional counselling therapies, and it is legitimately debateable how effective they are in actually changing a person’s sexual orientation, but it could include merely praying with someone at their request to diminish an unwanted same-sex attraction. There was an excellent amendment put in by Sean Doherty of Living Out that achieved what the original motion seemed to ask for, but it was lost – the radical held sway over the Christian. Similarly in the debate about welcoming transsexuals in church, the Trojan horse there was in a request for liturgy to mark a person’s transition, because, as was said repeatedly framing the debate, “The Church does the work of God through liturgy!” Again, a reasonable amendment, giving clarity to the nuances, was rejected; and although the final motion only actually asks the House of Bishops to consider a new liturgy, and the Archbishop of York implied they probably wouldn’t do it, he ended the debate asking for a strong support for the motion, which they received – including the significant milestone of a more than 2/3 majority in each house, which is the bar that has to be met to change doctrine in future.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(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

(Anglican Taonga) New Zealand Working Group Interim Report on Same-sex Blessings Released

The report says the working group believe the General Synod’s role “is to support amorangi and the dioceses in their work”.
So decisions about whether or not to bless “should rest with amorangi and diocesan bishops” who may, in turn, authorise clergy in specific parishes to conduct those services if they wish.
The report also notes that there is scope (under Title G, Canon XIV) for a bishop to authorise “a non-formulary service” for such a purpose.
The working group also recommends a change in the declarations of adherence and submission which would have the effect of freeing clergy from having to submit to top-down resolutions.
At present, a clergy person must declare his or her submission to the authority of General Synod, and consent to be bound by its regulations.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Provinces Other Than TEC, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Fulcrum) Some observations on the forthcoming Synod debate on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

9. However, we believe that in making further judgments about a reasonable response, two other factors need to be considered. First, we are disappointed at the minimization of the reality and extent of sexual fluidity. Although it is acknowledged that “sexual fluidity does occur” it is also asserted that “it is deeply misleading to state that…sexual desires can change”. Further, there is no comment at all about the issue of bisexuality – among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals have been reported as comprising a majority among women and the proportion now appears to be rising markedly among younger people. Figures may vary, but we consider this to be a serious omission.

10. Bisexuality poses a major pastoral challenge to the Church at this point in the unfolding of the sexual revolution. For example, what are the implications of the motion before Synod for the pastoral and counseling support of a bisexual married person with children who wishes to hold to their marriage vows by ordering their sexual interests in line with their religious convictions and identity? There are many faithful Christians who wish to interpret and respond to their sexual interests in line with their identity in Christ, and the teaching of Scripture and the church, rather than re-define their identity on the basis of their sexual interests. The motion risks closing down conversation about the pastoral and counseling challenges of bisexuality at precisely the point in secular discourse when people are beginning to move beyond the old binary of ‘gay’ versus ‘straight’. Synod thereby risks buying into yesterday’s ‘science’.

11. Second, we recognize that Synod may be impressed by, and somewhat in awe of, the professional bodies that have signed up to statements such as that which it is being asked to endorse in the motion. We should bear in mind however that, notwithstanding their wellintentioned nature, these general declarations are not formulated within a Christian worldview of what it means to flourish as creatures made in the image of God, called into a self-sacrificial life of holiness within God’s work of redemption.

12. Within a purely secular framework people may be offered ‘gay affirmative’ counseling that seeks a full integration of same-sex, or bisexual, sexual interests into their sense of identity and affirms and supports them in their sexual relationships. Some Christians may also choose this course of action. Other Christians however will choose to embrace the biblical worldview as the integrative framework of their identity, and seek counseling or pastoral support that is correspondingly modeled on its teachings. They also have a right to do so, subject to the safeguards we have outlined above (paragraph 8). This approach (recognized by the American Psychological Association in their Report of the Task Force on Appropriate Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009)), has been called the pursuit of ‘telic’ congruence. We believe this to be a more thoughtful and appropriate response to these complex questions and commend it to our friends and colleagues on General Synod.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(AM) Essex churches pass motions of no confidence in “unbiblical leadership” of Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Two churches in Chelmsford Diocese have taken the unprecedented step of issuing public statements of no confidence in the Church of England leadership, following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for ‘radical inclusion’ at General Synod in February, and Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s call for thanksgiving prayers to be offered for same sex relationships in his Presidential Address to the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod.

The decision to publish the no confidence motions has been motivated by the Diocese provocatively hosting their June Synod at a church publicly supporting same sex marriage, and Archbishop Welby’s recent letter to Primates which does not mention the Scottish Episcopal Church’s departure from Christian orthodoxy but criticises Gafcon’s decision to appoint a faithful missionary Bishop.

Although two churches have gone public with their protest, Anglican Mainstream understands that several dozen clergy and a number of lay people in the Diocese have written to Bishop Stephen since February expressing deep concern about the direction of the C of E as evidenced by his statements.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Debating transgender

One of the most difficult debates facing General Synod when it meets in July arises not from the main business agenda, but from a diocesan motion from Blackburn Diocese, which will be proposed by Revd Chris Newlands:

That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

I was approached to discuss this with Chris on last weekend’s Sunday programme on Radio 4, and if you want to see how complex and challenging this debate is going to be, then you can listen to our discussion on iPlayer starting at 30 minutes into the programme. The difficulties start (as is often the case in such debates) with the language; the question here is less about ‘gender’ (that is, socially constructed roles of men and women) but ‘sex identity’ (that is, whether someone is a biological man or woman) as is evident from Chris’ own language. That is why, in informed discussions, the situation we are faced with is described as ‘gender identity disorder’ or more commonly ‘gender dysphoria’. Chris is right to emphasise the serious and distressing nature of the pastoral issue—but unfortunately my agreement with him on this, and my explaining my personal experience of that amongst friends and family was edited out (the discussion was pre-recorded) in order to create a sense of ‘liberal pastoral care’ versus ‘traditionalist dogma’ on the programme. There is no doubt at all that this is how many will seek to configure the Synod debate.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Phil Ashey) The Gafcon missionary bishop for Scotland and Europe

On Friday June 30, 2017, the Rev. Canon Andy Lines will be consecrated in Wheaton Illinois (USA) at the Third Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach Presiding. The consecrating Bishops will be acting on behalf of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), and Canon Lines will become its first Missionary Bishop to Europe.

Canon Andy Lines’ consecration will not be irregular or invalid.  His Holy Orders in the Province of South America have been duly and lawfully transferred to, and likewise received by, the ACNA. He will be consecrated by acting primates, archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Communion. His consecration will fall within the historical tradition of faithful Bishops who have created order in the Church during times of crisis. These are times when faith and doctrine have been threatened by others’ failure to guard against false teaching—or worse, have actively promoted such false teaching. One can trace this all the way back to Athanasius and the crisis of Arianism in the early Church. Faithful bishops like Athanasius disregarded the boundaries and autonomy of Arian dioceses in order to consecrate Biblically faithful bishops for Biblically faithful Christians. The consecration of a missionary bishop by GAFCON for Europe is as much an emergency as the consecrations that Athanasius and other faithful bishops performed, and just as necessary to guard the faith and order of the Church and prevent spiritual harm to biblically faithful Christians.

We call these emergencies “exigent circumstances.” Although this is a legal term used in criminal courts for circumstances in which the potential death of a victim, flight of a felon or destruction of evidence justifies an emergency search or seizure that overrides the freedom, autonomy and constitutional rights of a suspect, “exigent circumstances” have also been the grounds for faithful Bishops, clergy and laity to take emergency action to guard the faith and order of the Church. I recently wrote about Exigent Circumstances in the Anglican Communion, citing the works of Paul Avis, Francis Oakley and Brian Tierney for the precedent of such “emergency action” which we see in the development of  the great reforming Councils of the Roman Catholic Church during the Great Schism (1378-1417).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, --Scotland, Church History, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Gafcon Chairman Archbp Nicholas Okoh’s June 2017 letter

I am reminded of Athanasius because we are facing a similar struggle for the integrity of the gospel in our time. On Thursday 8th June, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its teaching to allow men to be married to men and women to women. It followed the path already taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behaviour that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behaviour, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.

Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at Gafcon 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, Gafcon announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognised missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a Gafcon missionary bishop for Europe.

This is not a step we have taken lightly, but from the beginning Gafcon has been committed to standing with the marginalised. Requests for help from Scottish orthodox leaders to the Archbishop of Canterbury were turned down. Indeed, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told his General Synod last year that the Archbishop of Canterbury, had assured him that he would welcome the Scottish Church to the 2020 Lambeth Conference even if it chose to change its marriage canon to include same sex unions.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Bishop Paul Colton–Scottish Episcopal Church’s approach to same-sex Marriage may represent a Way Forward for Church of Ireland says

In this section of his Synod address, Bishop Colton said:

‘Change is signalled also by the decision two days ago, on Thursday, 8th June, of our sister Church in Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, to alter its canon on marriage by removing the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman. Clergy who wish to conduct same-sex marriages will have to opt in, and no priest is to be compelled to do so.’

‘As we saw at our own General Synod recently arising from a private members motion, there are many in the Church of Ireland who are anxious to debate such issues here too. Equally many are determined that this is not a matter which is up for debate at all. There is a debate, and, however tentatively, it has, in fact, started.’

‘That such things are open to debate in this Church has always been the case. If there had been no questioning or discourse, the Reformation itself would not have happened, nor would many other developments have unfolded over the centuries, in ministry, in liturgy and in belief, the most recent examples being our change in approach to suicide, to the marriage in church of divorcees, and also the ordination of women, and there are many others.’

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Jonathan Petre’s Article in the Daily Mail about Archbp Welby’s Letter to the Anglican Primates

Canon [Andy] Lines’s presence in the UK without Welby’s approval could be seen as provocative. But Lines’s backers complain that the Archbishop failed to rebuke the Scottish Episcopalians for permitting gay marriage, even though it is out of step with Church of England official policy.

The former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, a prominent traditionalist who is attending the meeting in Chicago where Canon Lines is to be consecrated, said: ‘The Scottish Episcopal Church has done something that will cause many people to exercise their right of conscience and not remain in it. Who is going to look after them?
‘The question is not just about territory. It is also about faith.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)