Category : Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Ian Paul responds to the Bp of Chelmsford: Sex and morality in Church and society

This leads to a third surprising comment. On the one hand, the new teaching document will explore what is possible ‘within current arrangements’, and that prohibits the offering of public prayer which would give the appearance of a blessing of a same-sex sexual relationship. Yet on the other hand, Bishop Stephen cannot see any reason why ‘prayers of thanksgiving for these relationships – perhaps a Eucharist – cannot be offered.’ It seems strange to me that any bishop should feel so relaxed about contradicting the current position of the House of Bishops, without offering any account of this—and why he does notice that it is, in fact, contradictory.

But perhaps the most astonishing and surprising comment comes earlier on. In reflecting on the relationship between sexuality and missional engagement, Bishop Stephen makes this startling claim:

As I have said before, I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set.

For some reason, Bishop Stephen sees the issue of the Church’s teaching on sexuality as a unique turning point in relation to culture, as if we have never experienced this sense of being out of step with prevailing morality and criticised, on moral grounds, because of it. I cannot really make sense of this statement, since even a moment’s reflection on some current areas of debate illustrates how implausible this is.

Read it all.

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

The Jeffrey John Open Letter Kerfuffle (III)–A BBC Article on the subject

He wrote to the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon – the Right Reverend John Davies, who is currently the church’s senior bishop – after an electoral college of bishops, clergy and lay people failed to reach a decision about who should replace Dr Barry Morgan as bishop.
It is understood Mr John received a majority of the votes, but not the two-thirds required by church rules.
He said homophobic remarks had been made at the electoral college meeting.
“Much more importantly, the only arguments adduced against my appointment – in particular by two of the bishops – were directly related to my homosexuality and/or civil partnership – namely that my appointment would bring unwelcome and unsettling publicity to the diocese,” he wrote.

Read it all.

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

(RZIM) Q&A with Sam Allberry: Same-Sex Attraction, Synod Remarks, and Why The Gospel Is Truly Good News For All

Yes, you described yourself as “same-sex attracted.” What do you mean by that?

The debate was limited to just three minutes per speaker, so I only had time to flag certain things up without the opportunity to properly explain what I meant by them.

When I describe myself as same-sex attracted, what I am saying is that the only sexual desires and feelings I have ever experienced are toward other men, rather than women. I’m not justifying those desires or seeking to validate them. The Bible says that as sinners all our desires are disordered, so it’s actually the case that all of us are fallen and broken in our sexuality. For most, that fallenness will be manifest in an opposite-sex direction; for me (and not a few other believers), it is seen in same-sex attraction.

Some wonder how it is possible to be a Christian and yet experience these things. My answer is that any inappropriate desire is a form of temptation that needs to be fought. Temptation is different to sin. Jesus tells us to pray we’d be delivered from temptation but be forgiven for our sin. Temptation itself is not sin. It is striking that the Bible nowhere promises that temptation will be completely removed in this life; simply that God will enable us to stand faithfully under it.

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

Letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York following General Synod

..The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.

Nevertheless while the principles are straightforward, putting them into practice, as we all know, is not, given the deep disagreements among us.

We are therefore asking first for every Diocesan Bishop to meet with their General Synod members for an extended conversation in order to establish clearly the desires of every member of Synod for the way forward.

As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.

Secondly, we, with others, will be formulating proposals for the May House of Bishops for a large scale teaching document around the subject of human sexuality. In an episcopal church a principal responsibility of Bishops is the teaching ministry of the church, and the guarding of the deposit of faith that we have all inherited. The teaching document must thus ultimately come from the Bishops. However, all episcopal ministry must be exercised with all the people of God, lay and ordained, and thus our proposals will ensure a wide ranging and fully inclusive approach, both in subject matter and in those who work on it.

We will also be suggesting to the Business Committee a debate in general terms on the issues of marriage and human sexuality. We wish to give the General Synod an opportunity to consider together those things we do affirm..

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) No easy solution to same-sex marriage issue, secretary general tells C of E Synod

Resolving issues around human sexuality within the Anglican Communion is like threading a needle ”“ and there is no one solution in sight at present, the secretary general of the Communion has told the Church of England Synod.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said the disagreements and struggles facing the Church of England were not unique to it but could not easily be resolved in some institutional or structural fashion.

“We are not up to the task of resolving them faithfully right now,” he said.

Archbishop Josiah said the “dispiriting and destructive dynamic” of the conflict over human sexuality was divisive between provinces of the Communion as well as within them. He said the differences could impede their common mission to the world. And he suggested the time might be right to set aside difficult matters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Stephen Croft of Oxford writes his diocese on the just completed General Synod

Although it had been a difficult and tense week, my own sense was that the debate itself was the General Synod at its best. I’ve been in difficult debates on several occasions (most noticeably on the legislation of women in the episcopate). This did not feel like those debates. Over 30 people spoke. There was a 3 minute time limit throughout. Jayne Ozanne, Martin Gorick and Sam Alberry all spoke well, from different perspectives. I saw other Oxford members standing seeking to make a contribution. Over 160 people wanted to contribute. The debate was expertly chaired by Aidan Hargreaves.

We came to the vote which is normally a formality in a take note debate. As expected, it was closely contested. The House of Bishops voted 43 in favour and 1 against (the Bishop of Coventry later admitted he had pressed the wrong button by mistake). The House of Laity voted 106 in favour, 86 against with 3 abstentions. The House of Clergy voted 93 in favour and 100 against with 4 abstentions. The take note motion was therefore defeated.

Given the strength of feeling across the Church and the Synod this seemed to me an appropriate outcome. The Bishop of Norwich said afterwards: “I can guarantee that the Bishops will listen carefully and prayerfully to all the contributions made in the debate today”.

Talking with people afterwards, this felt a very significant moment but not that the Church of England is in chaos or turmoil (as the newspaper headlines indicated the following day).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Please note that the full audio of Wednesday's General Synod Debate is now Available

If you go here you can see it in the Wednesday agenda. I am providing the direct link to it below (almost 2 hours and 20 minutes).

It is very worth your time to listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Andrea Williams' speech in yday's debate on the H of Bps marriage+same-sex relationships report

…clearly, Genesis 2 and Matthew 19 demonstrate that all sexual expression outside the lifelong and permanent union of one man and one woman is sinful. It’s contrary to God’s purposes. We have the picture of Christ who will come for his beautiful bride clean. He died for her. We rob society of that picture when we seek to destroy the truth of what marriage is.

God’s people are called to be set apart and clergy are to be examples to their people, to model holiness, chastity, purity, to model the way of the cross.

If sexual immorality were simply a secondary issue as opposed to a first order salvation issue then the Bible would not link it specifically with salvation (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And that is why it is so important to speak clearly with regard to sexual sin, because, actually heaven and hell depends upon it. Our very eternity depends upon it. That’s why it’s loving to hold firm to it. And it’s also beautiful and freeing for all that hear this message.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–On Synod, sexuality, and not ”˜Taking note’

What practical difference will the vote make? It will not lead to a new report, since we cannot consider one on the same issue in the life of this Synod. It is difficult to see how the position of the bishops will change; if some break ranks, many will respond ”˜Why didn’t you speak up earlier?’ It might lead to a fracture in the House of Bishops, as some clearly hope””which will mean dioceses diverging in their teaching and policies. If so, evangelicals will start to withdraw both cooperation and funding””so keep an eye out for the next diocese to run out of money. It has perhaps raised hopes for change again””which are likely to be dashed once more, at least in terms of formal change in the Church. In introducing the report, Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, emphasised yet again that changing this teaching, shared in much of the Anglican Communion and ecumenically, wasn’t in the gift of the Church.

What it has done is highlighted the deep divisions in the Church””but done nothing to heal them. Not only do we disagree, we even disagree about what it is we disagree on. And it has set clergy against their bishops. Some will ask what the bishops have been doing all these years, in terms of teaching and training and holding clergy to appropriate account, to lead to such a deep level of mistrust. But others might ask clergy what they think they are doing in rejecting the teaching of those to whom they have pledged canonical obedience. Either which way, it is incoherent, and no way to run a railway. And in the end it has demonstrated the power of this issue to break the Church. Those seeking change have demonstrated their determination to continue pushing, regardless of the consequences.

As Zachary Giuliano concludes: there are no winners.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Church of England votes against H of Bps marriage+same-sex relationships report

There is no easy way to dress up what has been an embarrassing night for the senior leadership of the Church of England.
After three years of so-called shared conversations costing the church more than £300,000, General Synod has chosen not to take note of the Bishops report.
It was neither the Bishops nor ordinary members of the church (the laity) who chose to reject the report. It was the vicars, rectors and priests that decided they could not continue with the current prohibition on blessing or marrying same sex couples in church.
For lesbian and gay Christians, there is widespread rejoicing. But conservative evangelicals are dismayed, the vote confirming what they say is their worst fear that the authority Scripture is no longer the rule of faith and practice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bp of Coventry apologises for accidentally pressing wrong button in same-sex relationships vote

A Church of England bishop has been forced to apologise to the archbishop of Canterbury after accidentally breaking ranks with his colleagues in a crucial vote on same-sex relationships.

Christopher Cocksworth, bishop of Coventry, said he was embarrassed after he pressed the wrong button on his electronic handset in the tense vote on a highly controversial bishops’ report at the C of E synod on Thursday.

The report was rejected after the House of Clergy narrowly voted against “taking note” of it, although it commanded overall support in the synod. The motion needed the backing of all three houses ”“ bishops, clergy and laity.

Read it all from the Guardian.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) C of E General Synod rebuff for Bishops’ report on sexuality

There were impassioned contributions from all sides of the argument. Lucy Gorman (York diocese) argued that the Church’s current stance was devastating its mission to the nation, especially among young people, who saw it as homophobic.

The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who married his male partner in 2014…, begged the Synod not to take note of the report. “Your LGBTI brothers and sisters are not beggars looking for entrance on the borders of the Church,” he said. “We are your family in Christ. We are baptised, faithful, prayerful. I am not a case study. We are flesh and blood.”

Others, including a “same-sex-attracted” Evangelical, the Revd Sam Allberry, said that, while the report was not perfect, they were glad that it had held the line on the traditional marriage teaching. “I was bullied at school for being gay,” he told the Synod. “I now feel bullied in Synod ”” for being same-sex-attracted, and for agreeing with the doctrine on marriage.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Church Of England's Clergy Issue Shock Rebuke To Bishops View On Sexuality

The Church of England’s clergy have issued an extraordinary challenge to its conservative line on marriage by throwing out a bishops’ report on sexuality.

In a major revolt against the CofE’s hierarchy, members of the Church’s General Synod rejected a report by top bishops that said there was ‘little support’ for changing the view that marriage was between one man and one woman.

The shock result plunges the Church into confusion on its stance on marriage with the bishops’ report barred from being discussed until the end of this synod in 2020.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Church of England Synod–GS2055 case studies to be discussed today by working groups released

Read it all the links are at the bottom of the page (p 1-7).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Jennifer Strawbridge–The Bishops’ Report and Scripture: A Missed Opportunity

The first paragraph of the report states, “As St Paul writes, ”˜I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me”¦’ (Galatians 2.19ff). For St Paul that meant setting aside even the wonderful privilege of Jewish identity and giving priority to the cross and resurrection of Christ. It is in this light that the Church of England has to consider the difficulties over human sexuality that have been a source of tension and division for many years.”

What this introduction misunderstands and misses is twofold. Firstly, in both his letters and in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul is a Jew and identifies clearly as a Jew in the present tense. To state that Paul is “setting aside” his “Jewish identity” misunderstands Paul. Second, such misunderstanding in the very first paragraph means the report misses the nuance of Paul’s writings and the reality that he too is grappling with “tension and division” both within his communities and in terms of his own identity. To recognise such a nuance would make clear that questions of identity are not as simple as this report’s introduction suggests and that identity with Christ is not as simple as “setting aside” one’s identity at birth (which itself is a loaded and potentially harmful assumption in a report on sexuality and identity).

In Philippians 3.4-6, therefore, Paul writes that in terms of confidence “in the flesh”, he has more for he is: “a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews.” Even if these “gains” are now regarded by Paul “as loss because of Christ” (Phil 3.7) and as “rubbish” (3.8), Paul’s Jewish identity is not solely in his past. This is made clearer in Romans 11.1 where Paul states in his defence of God’s promises that “I myself am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” Paul’s testimony before the tribunal in Acts 21 is even more direct, demonstrating unambiguously what the Evangelist thinks of Paul’s identity. Paul begins his defence with the words, “I am a Jew” and then repeats this same claim “in the Hebrew language” in Acts 22 (“I am a Jew”) after which he immediately recounts in the past tense that he previously “persecuted this Way”. Moreover, returning to his letters, Paul counters Corinthian boasting with his own in 2 Corinthians 11.22: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? ”¦ I am a better one.”

And here we encounter first-hand the tension in Paul’s identity. Paul is still a Hebrew, an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, in other words, he is a Jew. But he is also a minister of Christ; he is also one who suffers for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s identity is inextricably wrapped up in both.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture