Category : –Civil Unions & Partnerships

The Bishop of Chelmsford’s recent Presidential Address to his Diocesan Synod

…though I am proud to confirm that all of us, whatever our views on this matter, are united in our condemnation of homophobia, we must also acknowledge that it is of little comfort to young gay or lesbian members of our Church to know that while prejudice against them is abhorred, any committed faithful sexual expression of their love for another is forbidden. In fact it is worse than this, our ambivalence and opposition to faithful and permanent same sex relationships can legitimise homophobia in others.
None of us are content with this situation.

This issue is, therefore, one that must be dealt with in a number of ways: theologically, ethically, pastorally and missiologically. We must let the insights and experiences of each of these responses shape our overall response. As with the challenges of previous ages, it is the refining fire of the questions the culture poses that reveal new depths to the gospel we proclaim. Also we must acknowledge that the culture itself has to a large extent been shaped by those Christian virtues of tolerance and acceptance that we hold dear. It is therefore not sufficient to say, ‘Oh if only we could stop talking about human sexuality and get on with the real business of preaching the gospel!’ This is the real business of preaching the gospel: it is about what it means to be made in the image of God and of the new humanity God has won for us in Christ. It is about finding the legitimate boundaries
within which Christian people can legitimately disagree.

Nor can we simply ignore the biblical passages that pertain to this debate. They are part of our storyand our inheritance. But what we can do is recognise that what we know now about human development and human sexuality requires us to look again at those texts to see what they are actually saying to our situation, for what we know now is not what was known then. Of course this isalso an area where conclusions are conflicted (even the rules that govern our biblical hermeneutics) but it does at least demonstrate that we are all seeking to be faithful to scripture and how weinterpret it within the contexts we serve.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Changing Attitude Scotland) A Majority of Scottish Episcopal Synods have voted to change the definition of marriage

Proposals to make changes to Canon 31 of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s canons have now been discussed by all the diocesan synods. A very clear majority of the synods voted in favour of change – 6 dioceses voted in favour, whilst one (Aberdeen and Orkney) voted against change.

The changes that are proposed would allow some clergy to be nominated to be able to conduct marriages for same-sex couples. If the changes are approved they would also remove the ban on clergy and lay readers entering into same-sex marriages themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality

(Church Times) Lambeth Palace letter suggests ‘indistinguishable’ blessing after same-sex marriage

A letter from Lambeth Palace has said that a church service after a same-sex marriage can be “almost indistinguishable from a wedding”.

The letter was written to Dr Richard and Matthew Edwards, who married last year in Birmingham Register Office. Both are members of the PCC at St Paul’s, Birmingham. Dr Edwards is the treasurer, and Matthew Edwards the vice-chair and a churchwarden. They have been together for five years, and got engaged in 2015. Before they married, they wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury for guidance.

The letter they received in response, written by the Archbishop’s correspondence secretary, Andrew Nunn, demonstrates the Church of England’s ambivalence on the question of same-sex marriage. He states: “marriage in an Anglican church is not an option for you.” On the other hand, he describes the practice of having a blessing in church after a civil ceremony. “The church ceremony can be arranged so as to be almost indistinguishable from a wedding, but without the legalities.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(W S County Times) Clergyman Nick Flints dismay over continued ban on Same-sex weddings in church

Fifty-six-year-old Mr Flint, who is married with children, said: “To me it is inevitable that same sex marriages will be celebrated in church one day and that will be the norm – and I welcome that. “When we look back, I think we’ll ask why were we dithering. The Church is always evolving. At one point divorcees couldn’t get re-married in church.” He said he was ‘frustrated at the moment with the bishops who have closed ranks.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

Well keep fighting for civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples; were closer than ever

“My overall conclusion: the appellants are right.” These were the words of Lady Justice Arden in the Court of Appeal today ”“ and yet we lost our legal challenge to the government’s ongoing ban on mixed-sex civil partnerships.

Lady Justice Arden’s two fellow judges disagreed ”“ and outvoted her. All of the judges were critical of the status quo, whereby civil partnerships are still only available to same-sex couples, despite 13 years passing since their introduction and clear demand for them among mixed-sex couples. But the other two judges concluded that the government should be allowed more time to make a decision on whether to extend civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples before its position becomes unlawful.

Naturally we are deeply disappointed by this ruling. The narrowness of the defeat makes it all the harder to swallow: we came so close to winning, yet lost on a technicality. Nevertheless, there is so much in the ruling that is positive.

Read it all from the Guardian.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Women

Responses to the Washington Supreme Court Ruling (2): Jacob Lupfer

The plain truth is that the Washington religious liberty case is going to be resolved in favor of the proprietor of the business, as it should be.

We need to be as deferential as we can to the rights of conscience, especially as they pertain to small/family businesses. I wouldn’t want the state to harshly fine me if I declined to arrange flowers for the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual banquet.

Progressives are fighting a losing battle, and the optics of financially ruining a 72-year-old grandmother are terrible. If progressives are on the right side of history and we are just moments away from same sex unions being celebrated as marriages by virtually everyone of every faith, then find another florist and leave this poor lady alone.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Responses to the Washington Supreme Court Ruling (1): Rod Dreher

Like I keep saying: this may not be the end of the world, but it is the end of a world. When the might of the State of Washington and the American Civil Liberties Union comes down on the head of gentle, grandmotherly, small-town florist, and seeks her ruin for declining to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, you know that we are dealing with a bottomless well of hatred. You know exactly what we are dealing with here. So, prepare. We are all going to be asked to pay the cost of discipleship. When I interviewed her last summer, Stutzman said to me: “If they can come after me, they can go after anybody.”

True. Expect no justice, tolerance, mercy, or love in these matters. The Religious Right Must Lose. Alliance Defending Freedom, the religious liberty legal organization representing Barronnelle pro bono, is taking tax-free donations to help pay for her defense. If the US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, or rules against her, the Christian community nationwide will need to step up to pay her fine, and to reward her for having stood in the crucible and held firm, despite the contempt heaped on her head. Today its Barronelle Stutzman; tomorrow it might be you. And one day, it probably will.

I’ll say one more thing here. As regular readers know, I do not like Donald Trump and do not like the glee with which so many of my fellow conservatives view his trashing of longstanding rules and conventions of political behavior. Trump is tearing things down, but what will be left after he’s done that? Having said that, when I contemplate a system and a society that is willing to pour everything it has into crushing a little old Southern Baptist lady who arranges flowers for a living, I find that I have very little enthusiasm for defending that system. A society that would do this to a Barronnelle Stutzman is a corrupt and unjust society. At times like this, it is hard not to adopt a “let the dead bury the dead” attitude toward the whole.

Make sure to take the time to it all and watch the video.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(LSN) Washington Supreme Court: Gov’t can force florist to participate in Same-sex ”˜wedding’

Our nation has a long history of protecting the right to dissent, but simply because Barronelle disagrees with the state about marriage, the government and ACLU have put at risk everything she owns,” Waggoner continued. “This includes not only her business, but also her family’s savings, retirement funds, and home. It’s no wonder that so many people are rightly calling on President Trump to sign an executive order to protect our religious freedom. Because that freedom is clearly at risk for Barronelle and so many other Americans, and because no executive order can fix all of the threats to that freedom, we will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and reverse this grave injustice.”

A lower court ruled that Stutzman must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who were comfortable promoting and participating in their ceremony. The two continued to chat about the wedding, they hugged, and Ingersoll left.

“Rob Ingersoll and I have been friends since very nearly the first time he walked into my shop all those years ago,” said Stutzman. “There was never an issue with his being gay, just as there hasn’t been with any of my other customers or employees. He just enjoyed my custom floral designs, and I loved creating them for him. But now the state is trying to use this case to force me to create artistic expression that violates my deepest beliefs and take away my life’s work and savings, which will also harm those who I employ. I’m not asking for anything that our Constitution hasn’t promised me and every other American: the right to create freely, and to live out my faith without fear of government punishment or interference.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, 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

(TLC) C of E General Synod Turns to Mission

Throughout his talk, Idowu-Fearon emphasized the “vigorous and robust” character of the Anglican Communion, as it pursues the “apostolic mandate given by the Lord Jesus, to make disciples of all the nations.” Again and again, he referenced “missionary calling,” the “sacrificial offering” of generations of English Anglicans zealous for global mission, and the C of E’s contributions to the Anglican Communion.

“This is a wonderful, if complex, story that I hope will never be forgotten,” he said. “I hope you realize this, because it is a fact that the Church of England today is giving necessary, effective, and beautiful gifts to the wider Communion.”

The secretary general did not shy away from noting the difficulties Anglican Communion provinces face: “economic displacement and political uncertainty; family dissolution; refugees and migration; grinding poverty; and persecution,” but also “the dispiriting and destructive dynamic of Anglican conflict over human sexuality” and a worrisome fading of the “fertile energy of outward mission.”

He lifted up the 1920 Lambeth Conference as a potential model for how to respond to these challenges: the assembled bishops recognized that communion is founded in “the undeflected will of God,” who desires to “win over the whole human family.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Missions, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Polity & Canons, 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

Sam Allberry says the message of Jesus on marriage is life-giving in the General Synod Debate

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, 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