Peter Ould—Understanding the C of E Bishops

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s been a lot of nonsense written about what the statement from the Bishop of Leicester following the Second Reading in the Lords of the Same-Sex Marriage Bill actually means, chiefly down to the spin that the Telegraph put on it. However, if you read the statement carefully you can see that the Church of England has not surrendered on the Bill and in fact may very well continue to oppose it in Committee stage and at a Third Reading.

Let’s read what the Bishop actually wrote, not what others are implying he wrote.

Both Houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales.

It is now the duty and responsibility of the Bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognise the implications of this decision and to join with other Members in the task of considering how this legislation can “.

Read it all.

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29 Comments
Posted June 12, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Matt Kennedy wrote:

The problem, of course, is twofold.

1. They actually wrote that virtue can be found in these relationships.

2. They have decided to participate in the crafting of laws to extract these virtues.

In doing this, the bishops will lend their name and credibility and participate to a new institution that will necessarily result in the damnation of souls.

This all flows right out of the supine stance of the ABC who called civil partnerships beneficial to society and weakly agreed that the question is not a “faith issue.”

Very sad the entire episode.

June 12, 2:37 pm | [comment link]
2. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Matt+,

If your argument is that it is better at this point to disestablish the Church of England and remove episcopal representation from the Lords, I would be inclined to agree with you.

Is it not better, however, for an attempt to be made to amend the legislation such as to protect minority opinion as much as possible? If left to the progressive majority, there will be no safeguards. As was mentioned on another thread, there are anaologies with how the episcopal bench addressed divorce law reform in the 1930s.

June 13, 4:43 am | [comment link]
3. Peter O wrote:

Matt wrote:

1. They actually wrote that virtue can be found in these relationships.
2. They have decided to participate in the crafting of laws to extract these virtues.

This is simply incorrect or misleading. It is a matter of fact that *any* friendship can contain elements of virtue and sin. For example, there are aspects of any same-sex relationship that can be virtuous even if the underlying sexual relationship is sinful. It doesn’t help our conservative case at all to state that all same-sex relationships are devoid of any virtue. This is blatantly false.

When Bishop Tim wrote about “virtue” he referred specifically to other-sex marriage and the context clearly indicated the notion of biological kinship. *That* is the virtue that he and the other Bishops are intent on rescuing.

It does our position no credibility at all when we (a) misrepresent (deliberately or inadvertently) what our allies have actually said or (b) project our anger at situations local to us onto those conservatives operating in different cultures and political contexts.

June 13, 8:10 am | [comment link]
4. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Hi Peter,

“This is simply incorrect or misleading.”

No it isn’t.

“It is a matter of fact that *any* friendship can contain elements of virtue and sin. For example, there are aspects of any same-sex relationship that can be virtuous even if the underlying sexual relationship is sinful.” “

The problem of course is that while there may be genuine affection between, say, a father and son who are sleeping together, there is nothing virtuous in the affection as it is applied to the actual relationship since the relationship itself is soul destroying. The only way to mine any virtue out of it is to redirect the affections away from their present course.

Which, of course, is exactly what the bishops are not doing. Participating in the crafting of such laws to protect shelter and institutionalize such relationships is to participate in setting the perversion of love in stone so that it can never be redeemed.

“It doesn’t help our conservative case at all to state that all same-sex relationships are devoid of any virtue.”

I am completely uninterested in “helping our conservative case” if it means mouthing falsehoods or participating in legislation that will only cement people’s damnation.

“This is blatantly false”

No it isn’t

“When Bishop Tim wrote about “virtue” he referred specifically to other-sex marriage and the context clearly indicated the notion of biological kinship. *That* is the virtue that he and the other Bishops are intent on rescuing.”

Oh, I think his words speak for themselves: “If this Bill is to become law, it is crucial that marriage as newly defined is equipped to carry within it as many as possible of the virtues of the understanding of marriage it will replace.”

This new “marriage” is no marriage at all. And so long as it it is set within the context of homosexuality the virtues to which the bishop refers will be necessarily twisted and perverted.

“It does our position no credibility at all when we (a) misrepresent (deliberately or inadvertently) what our allies have actually said or (b) project our anger at situations local to us onto those conservatives operating in different cultures and political contexts.”

Agreed. The wonderful thing about scripture is that it is transnational and transcultural. That makes it possible for, say, an African bishop to recognize that when an American male cleric marries another American male cleric that it is a blasphemous sin. And it also makes it possible to recognize when ministers of the One gospel in England have decided to take a supine and collaborationist approach when confronted with lies from enemy…which is what has happened here.

I’m having a great time by the way. No anger at all. You just can’t see my face or hear my tone…nice of you to be concerned though. Thanks.

June 13, 8:58 am | [comment link]
5. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Hi Jeremy,

No need to disestablish, just show some backbone.

June 13, 9:01 am | [comment link]
6. Peter O wrote:

Matt,

Let me ask you a simple question. Imagine there are two same-sex lovers. One is dying of AIDS. The other dedicates his entire life to looking after the needs of the one dying from AIDS.

Are you suggesting that there is *no* virtue whatsoever in this relationship?

June 13, 9:05 am | [comment link]
7. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Think of it this way…take one of the men who murdered the British soldier on the street a few weeks ago. He articulated a desire to protect his people. This, by itself is a virtue, but as expressed in the context of murdering people on the streets with butcher knives is irreparably twisted and perverted. Apart from repentance - not murdering people, that desire to protect his people cannot be salvaged or redeemed. In the context of murder it is necessarily twisted. There is no way to mine any virtue out of that.

In the same way, a romantic relationship between two men or two women involves certain desires that in marriage would be good - friendship, erotic desire, loyalty, etc - but the unrepentant homosexual context necessarily twists those things so that no good can be mined out of them until that context is removed.

The problem with what the bishops propose to do is that they want to try to mine the good through legislation which will cement in place a context where such mining is simply impossible.

June 13, 9:22 am | [comment link]
8. Peter O wrote:

Shall we try the question again?

Imagine there are two same-sex lovers. One is dying of AIDS. The other dedicates his entire life to looking after the needs of the one dying from AIDS.

Are you suggesting that there is *no* virtue whatsoever in this relationship?

June 13, 9:30 am | [comment link]
9. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Nah, your question is demagogic. But I did answer it. You just didn’t like my answer.

June 13, 9:40 am | [comment link]
10. Peter O wrote:

Your answer appeared to be “no”. I just wanted to check that you wanted to have that on record.

June 13, 9:54 am | [comment link]
11. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Hi Peter,

Just be sure to actually quote me when you’re demagoging this. smile

June 13, 9:56 am | [comment link]
12. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Are you suggesting that there is *no* virtue whatsoever in this relationship?”

Seems to me like the question might be asked more precisely.

To parallel Peter’s question, if an adult man is having a consensual loving mutual sexual relationship with his adult daughter, is there “*no* virtue whatsoever in this relationship?”  And if he is dedicating “his entire life to looking after the needs of the one dying from AIDS” is there no virtue in the relationship itself?

But another way of asking the question is “is there *no* virtue whatsoever in these individuals?”

The answer to the latter question is of course, “yes.”  And I’m confident that Matt would so answer.

But the answer to the former question is “no.”  I would think that would not really be in question.

You can’t have an intrinsically disordered relationship and have “virtue” in the relationship itself, but you *can* have virtue residing within the individuals who are themselves within the relationship.

So the father devoting himself to caring for his Aids-stricken lover who is also his adult daughter demonstrates individual virtues, while there still remains no virtue within the intrinsically disordered relationship itself.

All sorts of relationships may feature loving virtues by the individuals themselves engaged in the relationship, but that does not mean there is virtue residing in the relationship itself.

June 13, 10:07 am | [comment link]
13. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Sarah,

Exactly my point.

So Peter, just to play along, Imagine there are two same-sex lovers - father and son. The son is dying of AIDS given to him by his father. The father dedicates his entire life to looking after the needs of his son dying from AIDS without any repentance. Is there virtue intrinsic in this relationship?

June 13, 10:16 am | [comment link]
14. Peter O wrote:

Actually, I’m more than prepared to accept that there is virtue present in some aspects of the relationship. Sinners can do good things.

The danger in your approach Matt (and Sarah) is that you deny the possibility of *any* aspect of a same-sex relationship having any element of virtue. In doing so you make the ability of a person to exhibit virtue contingent upon maintaining certain sexual standards - fail on those sexual standards and nothing you can do now has any positive moral value.

That just seems to be naked homophobia to me - gay relationships are intrinsically sinful and no aspect of them whatsoever can have any virtue, as though it is the sexuality of the person themselves and not the actions they perform that determines the virtue (or lack of it) of those specific actions.

June 13, 10:22 am | [comment link]
15. Sarah1 wrote:

Eeek.  Peter you are blurring the two categories.

RE: “there is virtue present in some aspects of the relationship. Sinners can do good things.”

The categories represented in those two statements are not the same.

“The relationship” =/ “sinners” or “individuals.  The two are not congruent.

RE: “you make the ability of a person to exhibit virtue contingent upon maintaining certain sexual standards . . . “

Not at all. In fact quite the opposite. We’ve already stipulated that individuals are perfectly able to exhibit virtue, no matter what the actual relationships they carry on.

Just in order to demonstrate how thoroughly sincere I am in that, let’s take the most extreme case we can think of.  A father engaging in a sexual relationship with his 8-year-old daughter.

Can the father himself exhibit individual virtues, even connected with his treatment of his 8-year-old daughter?

Yes. Sinners can do good things.

Can the relationship itself exhibit virtues *residing within the relationship itself*?

No.

Or let’s take another extreme relationship—the one recently in our US news about the man who held captive three women for years, raping them and killing one of the women’s unborn babies by beating and starving them.

Can the man himself exhibit individual virtues, even connected with his treatment of those three women?  Sinners can do good things.

Yes.

Can the relationship itself exhibit virtues *residing within the relationship itself*?

No.

June 13, 10:37 am | [comment link]
16. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “gay relationships are intrinsically sinful”—yes

RE: “no aspect of them whatsoever can have any virtue”—yes

The individuals within any relationship, however—no matter how intrinsically disordered and wicked the relationship itself is—may exhibit plenty of virtues.

RE: “as though it is the sexuality of the person themselves and not the actions they perform that determines the virtue (or lack of it) of those specific actions.”

Too muddled for me to respond to fully—“the actions” an individual may perform may certainly be virtuous, and that has nothing to do with “the sexuality” of said person.

June 13, 10:41 am | [comment link]
17. Peter O wrote:

“*residing within the relationship itself*”

Here’s what Welby actually said.

“It is clearly essential that stable and faithful same sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage. Although the majority of Bishops who voted during the whole passage of the Civil Partnerships Act through your Lordships’ House were in favour of civil partnerships a few years ago, it is also absolutely true that the church has often not served the LGBT communities in the way it should. I must express my sadness and sorrow for that considerable failure. There have been notable exceptions, such as my predecessor Archbishop Ramsey who vigorously supported decriminalisation in the 1960s.

It is also necessary to express, as has been done already, total rejection of homophobic language, which is wrong – and more than that, sickening.

However, I and many of my colleagues remain with considerable hesitations about this Bill. My predecessor Lord Williams of Oystermouth showed clearly last summer, in evidence during the consultation period, that it has within it a series of category errors. It confuses marriage and weddings. It assumes that the rightful desire for equality – to which I’ve referred supportively – must mean uniformity, failing to understand that two things may be equal but different. And as a result it does not do what it sets out to do, my Lords. Schedule 4 distinguishes clearly between same gender and opposite gender marriage, thus not achieving true equality.

The result is confusion. Marriage is abolished, redefined and recreated, being different and unequal for different categories. The new marriage of the Bill is an awkward shape with same gender and different gender categories scrunched into it, neither fitting well. The concept of marriage as a normative place for procreation is lost. The idea of marriage as covenant is diminished. The family in its normal sense, predating the state and as our base community of society – as we’ve already heard – is weakened. These points will be expanded on by others in the debate, I’m sure, including those from these benches.

For these and many other reasons, those of us in the churches and faith groups who are extremely hesitant about the Bill in many cases hold that view because we think that traditional marriage is a corner stone of society, and rather than adding a new and valued institution alongside it for same gender relationships, which I would personally strongly support to strengthen us all, this Bill weakens what exists and replaces it with a less good option that is neither equal nor effective. This is not a faith issue, although we are grateful for the attention that government and the other place have paid to issues of religious freedom – deeply grateful. But it is not, at heart, a faith issue; it is about the general social good. And so with much regret but entire conviction, I cannot support the Bill as it stands.”

From http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5069/archbishop-justins-speech-to-the-lords-on-the-governments-gay-marriage-bill#sthash.jElWOFwX.dpuf

Now, which bit of that is where Welby says that gay relationships are intrinsically virtuous (which seems to be your beef), because for the life of me I can’t find it.

June 13, 11:05 am | [comment link]
18. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Oh I think it’s pretty evident. First he says: “It is clearly essential that stable and faithful same sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage.”

Then, in case you are wondering why he would want to institutionalize soul destroying relationships in civil law, he says this:

“those of us in the churches and faith groups who are extremely hesitant about the Bill in many cases hold that view because we think that traditional marriage is a corner stone of society, and rather than adding a new and valued institution alongside it for same gender relationships, which I would personally strongly support to strengthen us all, this Bill weakens what exists and replaces it with a less good option that is neither equal nor effective.”

See, creating a “new and valued institution” enshrining gay relationships would “strengthen us all.”

What a lie from hell that is. It would only destroy the lives and souls of those who enter into them and enshrine in law a relationship that God calls an abomination.

June 13, 11:21 am | [comment link]
19. Peter O wrote:

That’s just silly.

Civil Partnerships are valuable because they give to same-sex couples the same inheritance rights and other benefits that married other-sex couples have. That’s not an endorsement of the sexual practices that may *or may not* occur within civil partnerships, it’s simply a recognition that same-sex couples exist in our society and that they should be respected. That’s not a judgement on the eternal fate of those who enter such relationships, just a simple recognition of the political reality of living in Western society in the C21.

What’s the alternative? Would you remove any recognition in law of same-sex relationships? Would you like to go back to the situation where same-sex partners could be thrown out of hospitals? Would you like to go back to the situation where homosexual acts were all illegal? Do you think that would help to convince people to become disciples of Christ?

Again, I ask you where Archbishop Welby assigns virtue to the sexual relationship of two people in a civil partnership? I can’t see it.

June 13, 11:30 am | [comment link]
20. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Here’s what Welby actually said.”

I’m not certain why you are bringing up Welby when what I was responding to was this question asked by you:

“Are you suggesting that there is *no* virtue whatsoever in this relationship?”

Why are you switching back to Welby, now that I’ve distinguished between describing a relationship as holding certain virtues, as compared to individuals within a relationship holding certain virtues?

Further, Matt said in his very first comment:

“The problem, of course, is twofold.

1. They actually wrote that virtue can be found in these relationships.

2. They have decided to participate in the crafting of laws to extract these virtues.

In doing this, the bishops will lend their name and credibility and participate to a new institution that will necessarily result in the damnation of souls.”

It’s quite obvious that he’s not referring to simply Welby, so quoting at length from Welby’s statement seems to be merely an attempted distraction from Matt’s point about what the bishops said.

June 13, 3:38 pm | [comment link]
21. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Civil Partnerships are valuable because they give to same-sex couples the same inheritance rights and other benefits that married other-sex couples have.”

Actually, it’s always been perfectly easy to give inheritance rights, visitation rights, healthcare powers of attorney, etc, etc, etc, over here to gay couples without any civil partnerships at all!  I used to wonder why they didn’t avail themselves of the sorts of documents that I, as a straight single person, have availed myself of when, for instance, I wanted to own property in tandem with another unrelated person, or any number of other things I’ve needed . . . until, that is, I realized that the point of civil unions wasn’t the receipt of any of those conveniences anyway.

So the complete removal of same sex unions would cause precisely none of those things, and it would be perfectly easy to get up the documents to allow all of those conveniences in one neatly bundled fell sweep.

Further, as far as what *I* would do—I would gather all those nice little conveniences into one bundled document placeholder, and allow any and everyone to establish whatever they pleased.  If they wished to have hospital visitation rights from their beloved dog, well and good. If they wished to have visitation rights from their multitudinous females with which they are purporting to be married [heh] no problem. If they wished to give inheritance rights to their trust fund to their partnered orchid plant, or stiletto-heeled shoe, go for it! 

It’s the wild west and I’m perfectly comfortable with allowing any number of bundled little legal instruments for each and every “partnership” that any human being can dream up. No reason for the government to impede such things by being deliberately inconvenient.

But . . . of course . . . that would mean not giving a Very Special forced societal recognition called a “Civil Partnership” to the one minority sexual attraction that is currently faddishly popular and has the most activists attached to it while ignoring all the other minority sexual attractions which are not so popular at the moment and don’t currently have many activists lobbying for forced societal recognition.

June 13, 3:51 pm | [comment link]
22. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Hi Peter,

“That’s just silly.”

Nah, not silly at all. Noticing that a pig is a pig is simply common sense…but I can see how the one trying to apply lipstick to beast might wish for others to think such noticing is “silly”.

Of course you have to ask yourself in such situations who is really the silly one.

“Civil Partnerships are valuable because they give to same-sex couples the same inheritance rights and other benefits that married other-sex couples have.”

Interesting that he did not say that. What he has said is that he has been astounded with wonderment by the quality of same sex relationships. And now he says that these relationships are beneficial to all. It’s not difficult to grasp his meaning.

“That’s not an endorsement of the sexual practices that may *or may not* occur within civil partnerships, it’s simply a recognition that same-sex couples exist in our society and that they should be respected.”

heh “or not”...right. I know that the CofE has been trying to play that little charade for some time. No one is buying it.

It is not simply an acknowledgment that these couples “exist”. It is a declaration that this new arrangement is beneficial to all…that the new relationship will carry as much dignity and value as marriage and the Archbishop of Canterbury will support it all.

“That’s not a judgement on the eternal fate of those who enter such relationships”

Precisely the problem. Instead of articulating the destructive nature of this sin and calling for repentance, he prattled on about its quality and value and beneficence.

“just a simple recognition of the political reality of living in Western society in the C21.”

A political reality that the church is charged with prophetically challenging not weakly supporting.

“What’s the alternative? Would you remove any recognition in law of same-sex relationships?”

Yes I would.

“Would you like to go back to the situation where same-sex partners could be thrown out of hospitals? Would you like to go back to the situation where homosexual acts were all illegal?”

I wouldn’t have the state involved in health care in the first place - so I reject the premise of your first question. But yes, it is the state’s role to protect marriage and guard the lives of its people so I would certainly make such acts illegal, just like incest and preying on children.

“Do you think that would help to convince people to become disciples of Christ?”

Actually, yes, the truth is always far more effective than half truths and lies.

“Again, I ask you where Archbishop Welby assigns virtue to the sexual relationship of two people in a civil partnership? I can’t see it.”

I know you cannot or perhaps will not see it. But I am not worried about that because, I’m satisfied that reasonable people see it as clearly and plainly as he spoke the words as the fallout and response among Christians has demonstrated.

June 13, 5:08 pm | [comment link]
23. Peter O wrote:

“that the new relationship will carry as much dignity and value as marriage and the Archbishop of Canterbury will support it all.”

This is ultimately my problem with your approach Matt. You keep taking what Welby says and assuming he means something he doesn’t rather than letting the words her says and writes mean what they say and not a thing more.

June 13, 5:20 pm | [comment link]
24. Jackie wrote:

Peter,
I confess to being quite confused at this point.  Do you believe non-celibate same sex relationships are a valued institution?  To be specific - the question has noting to do with the value of the individuals within the relationship but the relationship itself.

June 13, 7:38 pm | [comment link]
25. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Hi Peter,

I was about to write the same to you. His words are quite clear. But I can certainly see why you would not want to hear and understand them.

June 13, 8:44 pm | [comment link]
26. Peter O wrote:

From a discipleship point of view, no. From a societal point of view, of course. Don’t forget - the Bishops sit in the Lords as peers for the whole country.

You seem to both be living in a fantasy world where with a snap of our fingers we can turn back time to the point where homosexuality was illegal and we could just all tell derogatory jokes about “poofs”. Life isn’t that simple - we live with the complexities of the modern world and the best way to defend traditional marriage isn’t to wish away the assault on it but rather to establish Civil Partnerships and then to address why they are fundamentally different to marriage.

June 14, 3:51 am | [comment link]
27. Matt Kennedy wrote:

Hi Peter O

“From a discipleship point of view, no. From a societal point of view, of course. Don’t forget - the Bishops sit in the Lords as peers for the whole country.”

Which makes their compromise and collaboration even worse. They have an opportunity to uphold God’s creation ordinances and instead the participate in their dismantling.

“You seem to both be living in a fantasy world where with a snap of our fingers we can turn back time to the point where homosexuality was illegal.”

Not at all. It is the duty and responsibility of the church to preach, proclaim, tell and live the truth despite the rebellion of the world. Because the world “is” a certain way does not mean that Christians must follow in that direction. Just the opposite. This is, in fact, precisely what Jesus did and it is precisely why he was rejected and despised both by the leaders and by the people of his day. Disciples have been promised the same.

“and we could just all tell derogatory jokes about “poofs”.”

This is the second time you have intimated that my views are sourced in a kind of prejudice. If you have evidence for that produce it. Otherwise, you are bearing false witness. I have a good number of people who struggle with ssa in my congregation. I love them dearly. This love is why I think what the ABC and the bishops have said and are willing to cooperate in doing is so egregious. Instead of refusing to grant legitimacy to soul destroying sin, protecting the flock and proclaiming the truth to the world, the bishops want to affirm its value and dignity and its virtue and its societal beneficence. Imagine saying such things about any other sin - theft, murder, incest, adultery, child abuse. If society legalized any of them we would continue to preach against them nevertheless and refuse to cooperate (witness Rowan William’s stand against the murder of babies through abortion).

“Life isn’t that simple - we live with the complexities of the modern world and the best way to defend traditional marriage isn’t to wish away the assault on it but rather to establish Civil Partnerships and then to address why they are fundamentally different to marriage.”

The absurdity of this argument is manifest when you merely insert any other sin…

“the best way to defend traditional marriage isn’t to wish away the assault on it but rather to establish Incestuous Partnerships and then to address why they are fundamentally different to marriage.”

“The best way to defend traditional marriage isn’t to wish away the assault on it but rather to establish Polyamorous partnerships and then to address why they are fundamentally different to marriage.”

“The best way to defend traditional marriage isn’t to wish away the assault on it but rather to establish Man-Boy Partnerships and then to address why they are fundamentally different to marriage.”

“the best way to defend [life] isn’t to wish away the assault on it but rather to establish [abortion] and then to address why it is fundamentally different to the right to life.”

absurd.

June 14, 9:55 am | [comment link]
28. Karen B. wrote:

Interesting article related to this comment thread on the Pope’s meeting today with Abp. Welby…

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/06/14/pope-wades-diplomatically-into-gay-marriage-debate/

June 14, 12:13 pm | [comment link]
29. Peter O wrote:

“and we could just all tell derogatory jokes about “poofs”.”

This is the second time you have intimated that my views are sourced in a kind of prejudice

——-

I didn’t mean to imply that your views are sourced in prejudice, but if it came across that way I’m sorry.

June 21, 10:17 am | [comment link]
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