Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Willesden concluded by saying:

"We lack a consensus on what we mean by "good disagreement" - is it about process or is it about outcomes? I think that many who want change believe that it's possible, on the basis of good disagreement, to have pluriformity of practice in the Church. Others don't believe that it's possible to live in that way because of the canonical and legal constraints of uniformity that exist in our Church.

We will find this debate a continuing source of disagreement because we haven't coalesced around an end point. When we legislated for women to be bishops, even those opposed came to the view that the Church of England had to make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of God according to our canons and formularies. In this debate, we haven't even begun to find a place where we can coalesce. The Bishops' Report acknowledges a place of starting. More conversation is needed. We don't yet know the next stage - nor yet when and whether we can bring any further report to Synod. Please make the fullest possible use of the groups and the debate to enable those deliberations."

Read it all and the presentations are below.



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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The community standards state: "Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their: race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases."

Johnston's post only cited Scripture and did not directly attack any person.

The Ohio mother contended that with the way the Facebook algorithm is set up is that all that is needed for her account to be frozen is for liberal trolls and LGBT activists to report her account.

Read it all from the Christian Post.

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

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Posted February 23, 2017 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"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.

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 18, 2017 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 18, 2017 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 18, 2017 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

..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.

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch and listen to it all.

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...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.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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).

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church of England clergy have appeared to signal support for gay marriage after they rejected a bishops’ report which said that only a man and woman could marry in church.

The report recommended that the bar on same-sex church marriages continue but that a more welcoming attitude towards homosexuals should be shown by congregations.

However, the motion was rejected by clergy at the General Synod who voted 100 to 93 against. Sources said they believed the recommendation had been rejected by the more liberal members of the clergy who thought the Church should ultimately drop its opposition to gay marriage.

Read it all.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So what we have seen over the past few days, and particularly now during Synod, is that pro LGBT activists have embarked on an attempt to force the Church of England to change its teachings on sex and marriage, firstly by means of appeal to the rational and reasonable middle ground in the church, branding conservatives as extremists and proposing an alternative conclusion to the Bishops GS 2055 report (eg here).

And then, the fist inside the velvet glove: an all-out assault on the tenets of basic Christian orthodoxy in the public domain outside the church, through the parading of pain and fury at every opportunity on the floor of Synod, and through the secular media. The aim here is to appeal to the public at large, particularly the powerful and influential figures in Government, law and the media, to force change on the church from the outside.

How can this powerful lobby with its emotional force be resisted? In the short term, we can perhaps pray that the Bishops and the majority of Synod members would see through and refute the hypocrisy of the campaigners, who claim to want diversity, when in fact they want to eradicate orthodox faith; they claim to be powerless victims or standing on their behalf, when in fact they stand with the most powerful lobby in the nation. They speak with the language of Christian faith but have imbibed a philosophy that is implacably hostile to the teachings of the bible about the human person, sexuality, marriage, self-control and chastity – and ultimately, as we have seen, hostile to the idea of a Saviour who takes away sin’s deserved consequences.

But what of the longer term? It should be obvious that a church which allows such views with their bullying tactics to flourish as part of legitimate theological diversity, has abandoned any concept of apostolic deposit based on divine revelation. Such a church will soon be forced to reflect the secular ideology of the powerful lobby group more and more, as has happened in north America. The orthodox can agree to being one view among many, and be gradually erased. A better option: stand firm and if necessary force a schism, and at the same time plan for an alternative jurisdiction.

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, The Right Reverend David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, warned changes to the church's authorised blessings are highly unlikely.

He said: "We know those numbers are just not there at the moment to change the law. We have a liturgy for marriage, we can't change that without the majorities that would be required."

However, The Right Reverend added: "What we have said is that we are committed to maximum freedom and I and many of the other bishops are very keen to explore the full extent of what that means. If we don't change the law but everything else is up for grabs, everything else is up for conversation.

"There is an awful lot we can do which doesn't actually require a change in the law and that is what I want to explore.

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is wide recognition on all sides that one of the central issues revolves around how Scripture is interpreted both in and across cultures. It is our conviction that the hermeneutic task is not simply a matter of ‘correctly’ interpreting Scriptural texts, but must involve reading any given text in the light of the whole gospel, with a heart that is open to what the Spirit is saying to the Church in each and every generation. The Reformation principle of scriptura sui ipsius interpres (scripture interprets itself) must give us cause to pause and consider such texts in the light of Jesus’ overriding call to ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (Luke 10:27)

There are three issues that we believe we, the evangelical community, need to be honest about.

The first, which causes us significant concern, is that of the high levels of homophobia that appear to go unacknowledged and unchallenged. Obviously, we understand that to assert a traditionalist position on same-sex relationships is not in itself homophobic, and that those who take a conservative line may not be individually hostile towards LGBT people. However, we would plead for some recognition, reflection and repentance of the fact that Christian teaching on this continues to function as the lynchpin, not just in the Church but also in secular society, of a widespread and sometimes subterranean nexus of negative attitudes that frequently manifest in overt homophobic behaviour. LGBT people are all too familiar with the impact of this, and whilst some are able to withstand it, many find themselves internalising feelings of shame and self-hatred, which all too frequently then result in depression, self-destructive behaviours, and even suicide. Are these really to be seen as the side-effects of the good news of Jesus Christ? Credible Christian witness cannot just be a matter of repeated verbal denials of homophobia but must involve active steps to combat it. Should not the churches be as well known for their efforts in this area as they are for, say, supporting issues of social justice? The issue is even more pronounced in countries across the world where Christians are known to be condoning and at times positively supporting proposals for severe penalties, including capital punishment, for homosexual behaviour. Should not the repudiation of this by churches in this country be immediate, public, and categorical?

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can find a daily time table here and the link for a live video feed is there. also, you can find the official synod twitter feed there.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite a warning from the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, that protests and campaigns at General Synod meant that “hackles will rise” and the media “circle like wolves”, efforts to mobilise a vote against taking note of the Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relationships are gathering steam.

On Tuesday, OneBodyOneFaith (the group formerly called LGCM) published a series of proposals offering an alternative way forward to that proposed in the Bishops’ report. The recommendations include the publication of a teaching document to “to make clear that clerical civil marriage is not of itself . . . a matter for discipline”.

Other proposals include a new sexuality-and-relationships working group of the Archbishops’ Council, “responsible for holding the theological diversity of the Church of England”, a national lead for LGBTI matters at Church House, and the publication and recommendation of an approved liturgy for prayer and thanksgiving with same-sex couples after a civil partnership or marriage.

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone needs to be heard. There has been much talk (on social media) of people boycotting the small groups at General Synod. I am saddened by the thought that I won’t hear their voices. The assumption may be that I won’t listen because I wear purple and the report has already been written and everything is decided. I don’t believe that is the case. I have much to learn in my own pastoral response to LGBTI people and I can only learn it by listening.

Everyone needs to be seen. There has also been much talk (on social media) of gestures of defiance. There will be protest groups outside Synod and others inside proposing alternatives to the ‘take note’ debate. I understand the motives behind this but wonder what will be achieved. Will it lead to change and a greater acceptance of LGBTI people in churches? I’m really not sure. The media will circle like wolves and everyone’s hackles will rise.

We need each other. My sincere prayer is that the new relationships generated among members of General Synod by previous small groups will triumph over the old pattern of playing to the public gallery. Vent your anger at me, but please do it face to face in a small group. Tell me of your frustration, but please do it in such a way that we can talk together about new ways of decision making which model to a war-torn world how we can live well together.

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Using today’s terminology, Anglo-Catholicism has often been caricatured and derided as harbouring a gay subculture. Irrespective of the actual sexual orientation of Anglo-Catholic laity and clergy, past or present, we have borne the opprobrium, and offered safe space to recipients, of homophobia.

And still we love the faith and the Sacraments received by the Church of England as something rich and life-giving, an articulation of Christian truth shared with the ancient Churches of East and West.

I have no formal mandate for saying so, but that is the reason why many Anglo-Catholics, and others, sincerely and gladly accept the retention of the doctrine of marriage as we have received it.

However, aware of the destructive force of homophobic innuendo and denigration, we also know we need a theological language that can articulate and honour difference in human sexual identity and relationship.

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




The Church of England is facing a fresh crisis over its stance on gay relationships following unprecedented criticism by a group of leading retired bishops over its failure to provide leadership on the issue, and its marginalisation of LGBT members.

The highly unconventional intervention comes before this week’s synod, which will be dominated by rancorous divisions over sexuality. Officials hope the 500-plus members of the church’s general assembly will approve a recent report from bishops which upholds the traditional teaching that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman.

But a rebellion is being orchestrated by supporters of LGBT rights who are dismayed at the bishops’ restatement of doctrine. The church insists that gay clergy must be celibate, and clergy are forbidden from conducting same-sex marriage services. An open letter from 14 retired bishops, led by Peter Selby, the former bishop of Worcester, and including Richard Harries, former bishop of Oxford, urges their successors to think again. They say serving bishops have sought to manage a conflict “rather than perhaps enabling or leading”.

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican church is set for a renewed clash on the divisive question of gay marriage this week when its ruling body votes on a key report from the Bishops on same sex relationships.

The Church of England synod, the governing body made up of Bishops, clergy and laity which decides on church law and policy, will vote on Wednesday whether to ‘take note’ - confirm - or reject the report confirming the status quo against gay marriage.

Liberals within the church are hopeful the synod will reject advice from the Bishops’ to leave its policy against gay marriage unchanged.

A vote by the synod in favour of same-sex marriage could eventually pave the way for a fundamental change in Anglican teaching.

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From there:
Dear Fellow Bishop

The Bishops’ Report to Synod on Sexuality

Most retired bishops would be prepared to admit that participation in the synodical processes of the church is not what they most miss about their role as diocesan or suffragan bishops. They also feel some reticence about entering into the current debates occupying their successors on the basis of information that is partial and becomes more and more dated with the passing of the years. There is a dilemma, though: you don’t work for years as a bishop and then easily and suddenly lose the bond you feel for the bishops, your successors and former colleagues. Nor do you lose your concern that the church of which you continue to be a bishop should be faithful in its commendation of the Gospel to the society at large.

So when a report emerges that is the subject of major controversy within the church and society some retired bishops will wish to do what the signatories of this letter are seeking to do, namely to reflect from their particular perspective on what our successors are seeking to say and do about an issue that has been a longstanding source of concern and contention.

Your statement is the product of enormous time and effort, our memories of such situations suggesting perhaps too much time and too much effort. The ‘too much’ comes from the enormous sense of responsibility your document shows to manage a conflict that you and we know causes huge amounts of grief and argument. The result, dare we say, is that whereas it used to be said that bishops often sounded as though they spoke with a pipe in their mouths, now that pipes are rare they sound more as though they see their task as managing – rather than perhaps enabling or leading – the conflicts that are bound to occur. And we remember how exhausting that is, and how it seems to blunt the edge of bishops’ own passionate convictions, which might divide them but also invigorate the conversation.

You write after the Shared Conversations. We well remember having had lots of those, even if they did not have capital letters. But their integrity rested on the assurance that in reporting them the voices of those who participated would not be drowned out by the ‘majority view’ or ‘established position’. Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice. Our experience would lead us to doubt whether there was an expectation around that canons and doctrinal statements would be changed within any reasonable timescale, and that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes. Going down the road of seeking a change in the law or doctrinal formulation would indeed not have been realistic – but you might not have had to spend as much time explaining why if those other voices had been allowed to come through more clearly.

The result of that focus on the issue of a change in the law is that your call for change of tone and culture, while absolutely right, does not carry conviction. Indeed, from the perhaps luxurious perspective of retirement the tone and culture of your document are incredibly familiar – we’ve been there and talked in that tone of voice, and it prevents calls for a change of culture, of course offered in complete sincerity by you, from ringing true.

We’ll avoid making too many detailed points just now; but hard as you have tried you have really not allowed the theological voice of some of us to be heard properly. In para 8 you draw a contrast between ‘the many who [hold] a conservative view of scripture [for whom] the underlying issue at stake is faithfulness to God’s word’ and others for whom ‘the imperative to read scripture differently stems from a parallel conviction’. If the second group are to recognise their voice in theological conversations their ‘parallel conviction’ needs to be expressed and not just alluded to.

May we end by assuring you that we continue to sympathise with the challenging nature of the task you have in this and other matters. You will receive much negative comment about your report, and we hope that these brief remarks may illuminate the reason for that: it is not that the Shared Conversations were thought to herald changes of law or doctrine; rather there will be deep disappointment that those who are not officially part of your meetings, who experience at first hand the struggles you only allude to, have once again been spoken about by their bishops instead of being enabled to speak in their own voice about their future and the future of the church they belong to and care about.

Yours sincerely in Christ

The Rt Revd Dr David Atkinson, formerly Bishop of Thetford

The Rt Revd Michael Doe, formerly Bishop of Swindon

The Rt Revd Dr Timothy Ellis, formerly Bishop of Grantham

The Rt Revd David Gillett, formerly Bishop of Bolton

The Rt Revd John Gladwin, formerly Bishop of Guildford and of Chelmsford

The Rt Revd Dr Laurie Green, formerly Bishop of Bradwell

The Rt Revd the Lord Harries, formerly Bishop of Oxford

The Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, formerly Bishop of Hulme

The Rt Revd Dr Stephen Platten, formerly Bishop of Wakefield

The Rt Revd John Pritchard, formerly Bishop of Oxford

The Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, formerly Bishop of Worcester

The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, formerly Bishop of Leicester

The Rt Revd Roy Williamson, formerly Bishop of Bradford and of Southwark

The Rt Revd Martin Wharton CBE, formerly Bishop of Newcastle

Please note that there is also information on the additional signatories to the letter here.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

9. Is it a compromise?
“The Church of England's law and guidance on marriage should be interpreted to provide ‘maximum freedom’ for gay and lesbian people without changing the Church's doctrine of marriage itself, bishops are recommending.”
That’s the top line from the press release, which on its own may suggest a middle way. The report calls itself “a compromise between some bishops who would be inclined to seek more far-reaching changes in the direction of e.g. affirming married same-sex couples within the life of the Church, and some bishops who would like to see the sinfulness of any sexually active relationship outside heterosexual marriage more consistently upheld” (56).
In truth, as has been shown, the report does what the latter group of bishops wish to be done. There is no compromise in substance, only a little compromise in presentation.

In short…
Despite some attempt having been made to soften the report’s appearance, careful reading makes it difficult not to conclude that the bishops, with little reference to the views of the Church, and on a pretext of theological coherence, are determined to confirm for the foreseeable future an uncompromising conservative understanding of all sexual relationships, which offers no greater pastoral freedom, no new teaching, no less intrusive questioning, and a very uncertain call to penitence for homophobia.

Read it all.

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The good news is that the Bishops’ report on human sexuality is reassuring to evangelicals and traditionalists in its determination to adhere to the canonical and biblical understanding of marriage. But like all recent reports, the House of Bishops holds the line in the Church of England by treating this teaching as provisional and subject to change.

The latest report has the character of a staging-post. The Bishops are ultra-apologetic to the LGBT community and the overwhelming subtext is that traditionalists are not dying off quickly enough for the bishops to risk changing doctrine and thereby splitting the Church over the matter. It’ll only be a few years, they reason, before the Church of England can completely capitulate to culture.

Now, of course, many of the more conservative members of the House of Bishops will deny this entirely and I have no doubt that they have personally acted in good faith. But the equivocal language in which the report is hedged indicates that we are involved in a process. This in itself comes from a narrative of progress with which we are all familiar.

According to this widespread cultural narrative, the Church and other archaic organisations are on the wrong side of history and it is only a matter of time before they are dragged kicking and screaming into modernity by any means necessary – including changes to the law, placing facts on the ground and by attrition.

The Church’s integrity and faithfulness is a necessary casualty of these forces of change.

--This appears in the Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2017, on page 11

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We welcome the bishops’ reluctance to be drawn into sweeping ‘solutions’ or idle ‘resolutions.’ We wonder why one part of the body of Christ continues to be regarded as a problem rather than as a gift. We look forward to a genuine transformation of tone and culture away from one that rejects people simply for the way God has made them.

We welcome the bishops’ call for maximum freedom within the current legal constraints. We wonder if the bishops really want to endorse such an uncomfortable contrast between love and law, covenant fidelity and ecclesiastical disapproval, the manifest grace of God and a precise reading of select scriptural texts, the increasingly warm embrace of society and the apparently inexplicable inhibition of the church. We look forward to a time when pastoral care is not invoked to tend wounds the church has so often itself inflicted.

We welcome the call for a new teaching document on marriage and relationships....

Read it all.

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I remain hopeful about the next moves, and the idea of a teaching document. In answer to MTH’s question about its value, I think that it is perfectly possible for a teaching document to articulate a biblical theology of sexuality and look like good news to many people. For me, it would need to include:
1. Sex is God’s good gift in creation. The Church has often struggled with that but, as Diarmaid McCulloch pointed out, that was often because the Church paid too much attention to Greek philosophical ideas, and too little to the teaching of Jesus and Paul.
2. Human life is bodily, and our bodies are inherently good. We are not spirits (or internet browsers) trapped in an unfortunately material world.
3. Sex differentiation is a normal, natural and inevitable part of this bodily life.
4. Our sexual lives should form one part of an integrated physical, emotional, relational, communal and spiritual life.
5 Sex is powerful—powerfully good when used right, and powerfully damaging for so many people when it goes wrong.
6 Humanity is fallen, and this affects all aspects of our sexuality as well as every other area of our life.
7 Sexual activity is therefore bounded, not because sex is bad, but because sex is powerful and we are fallen. The boundaries God has put in place are, rightly understood, there for our flourishing and well-being, and in particular serve to protect the weak from exploitation by the strong.
8 Sex is penultimate—it is not the most important thing about us, and there are more important ways to understand who we truly are.
There is much here which offers good news to a world and a culture in which the misuse of sex does so much harm. Read it all.

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If this is a reasonably accurate account of how the bishops ended up with the report they did then, in evaluating it, among the questions raised are:

Can this process be recognised and received as a reasonable way of faithfully seeking to do what the bishops sought to do in the exercise of episcopal oversight?
Can a plausible case be made that any of the rejected options would have accomplished their goals – particularly the goals of unity and doctrinal coherence and serving the whole church – better than this one?
Can any of the options considered and rejected be implemented within the existing doctrine and law or do their advocates acknowledge that they really require a change in doctrine and/or law and that is therefore what they are demanding?
Can a convincing case be made that one of the three other paths not followed should have been offered as more faithful to the bishops' vision of what is involved in exercising episcopal oversight?

Read it all.

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishops have clearly sought and struggled to hold us together across our differences and to avoid “major fracture in our Church…at this point” (para 59). We are encouraged that in doing so they have also given due weight to “the unity of the Universal Church” and “the Church of England’s own position in the Anglican Communion” (para 60). As the bishops note, true unity “cannot be detached from our common faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore from the teaching through which that gospel is faithfully passed on” (para 61). This means that there “needs to be a fundamental trust in the clergy to know and be faithful to the teaching of the Church, in their own lives and in their ministry to others” (para 64). We are, consequently, deeply concerned that some of the responses to the bishops' report have made it even more difficult for those of us who wholeheartedly affirm that teaching as good news to have such trust in some clergy.

We hope and pray that the Church of England and wider Communion will see in the bishops’ proposal a framework, perhaps the only framework, which could enable us “to continue to ‘walk together'….in a way that is based on a common commitment to biblical truths but recognises our continuing disagreement with one another” (para 59) and we encourage General Synod to “take note” of it in its February session.

Read it all.

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the absence of such a solution, the fact that the report was agreed nem. con. by the Bishops suggests only one thing: that each party sees something to its liking in the document. This has been achieved by separating doctrine from pastoral practice. The doctrine of marriage, enshrined (a telling word) in Canon B30, has been reasserted, as being “in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side”. This pleases the Catholics, to whom doctrine is their link with the received deposit of belief and the universal Church, and the Protestants, who like things to be stated plainly and unambiguously. At the same time, both these parties, with liberals, welcome — perhaps even relish — the freedom to respond to difficult pastoral situations in ways that do not challenge the doctrine directly, but which might, in effect, set it temporarily aside. An analogy has been been made to second marriages. The doctrine of a permanent union is preserved, since that is certainly the intention of the couple at the time of the wedding.

Read it carefully and read it all.

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Posted February 3, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There needs to be clarity about what is meant by a ‘fresh tone of welcome and support’ for gay and lesbian people, those with same sex attraction, and their families.’ As noted above, the idea of engaging in fresh thinking about how to welcome and support such people is to be welcomed. However, it needs to be made clear that welcome and support is not the same as affirming same sex sexual activity or desire. Jesus welcomed everyone, regardless of their behaviour, but he also called them to repent and live lives that were in accordance with God’s will (Matthew 9:9-13 Luke 5:27-32, Luke 15:1-32) and we have to do the same. This does not, of course, mean that the first thing that we say to people is that they are sinners who need to repent, but it does mean that we make clear to them the implications for their sexual conduct of being followers of Jesus Christ.

A similar point needs to be made about the suggestion that the proposed teaching document should ‘affirm the place of gay and lesbian people in the life of the Church.’ As the report distinguishes elsewhere between gay and lesbian people and those with same-sex attraction this would seem to apply the affirmation of those in sexually active same sex relationships. It needs to be made clear that in order to be consistent with the Church’s teaching such affirmation does not mean acceptance of their sexual conduct as being in accordance with God’s will. A good example of what it might legitimately mean is provided by Rosaria Butterfield’s autobiographical account The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert in which she recounts how she was welcomed and affirmed as a person by the Pastor and members of a conservative Reformed church while she was still in a lesbian relationship, without them compromising their belief that her way of life was contrary to God’s will and would eventually need to change.[1] It is that sort of approach that we need to be commending.

Overall the teaching document, as proposed, lacks a clear theological basis.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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Posted February 1, 2017 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Guernsey’s Vice-Dean says the Church of England has much to repent towards the LGBTQ community, following a heavily criticised report by the College of Bishops released last week.

The report recommended the Church of England should not change its opposition to same-sex marriage but it should adopt a 'fresh tone and culture of welcome and support' for gay people.

I think it's very clear that in the past the church has a lot to repent of with regards to the LGBTQ community with the way in which they've been treated and some of the homophobia which has been expressed.

So I'd like to see the Church coming to a different place there.

– [THE] REV. MIKE KEARLE
Read it all.


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Posted February 1, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I welcome the BRGS Report’s upholding of the doctrine set out in Canon B30. It is to be noted that this Canon is not just about marriage being between a man and a woman but also about its lifelong nature, the birth and the nurture of children and the ‘hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affection’. This cannot go hand in hand with wanting to make pastoral provision for public prayer for those in others kinds of relationships.

I miss any treatment of a biblical anthropology in the document and, even more, of the detailed work both of biblical scholars and by the Church of England of the biblical material as set out, for example, in Some Issues with Human Sexuality (Church House Publishing, 2003). Although Scripture, tradition and reason are mentioned as a ‘classic Anglican triad’ the primacy of Scripture is not affirmed. Instead, the report, mistakenly, invokes ‘provisionality’ in theology, although Lambeth Conferences have done this only in relationship to ecclesiology.

Read it all.



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Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Friday the House of Bishops released a report saying the Church of England shouldn't change its teaching on marriage but recommending that it reviews other aspects of how it treats LGBTI+ clergy and laity. The Rev Rachel Mann is critical of elements of the report and gives Martin Bashir her reaction to it....

([The Rev.] Canon Andy Lines is also interviewed about his perspective on the report).

The Bishops of Manchester and Maidstone respond to criticism that the Church has come up with a 'don't ask, don't tell' solution.

Listen to it all (begins approximately at 21:58 and ends about 35:42).

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Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church of England bishops have upheld traditional teaching that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, in a move that will frustrate campaigners for gay rights and risk further alienating the church from wider society.

After two years of intense internal discussion involving clergy and laity – and at least two decades of bitter division within the church – the bishops have produced a report reaffirming that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

However, it says church law and guidance should be interpreted to provide “maximum freedom” for gay and lesbian people without a change of doctrine – meaning clergy will have some leeway in individual cases.

While calling for a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for lesbians and gays, the report offers little in the way of concrete change.

Read it all.

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England should not change its opposition to same-sex marriage but it should adopt a "fresh tone and culture of welcome and support" for gay people, a report has said.

The House of Bishops report said there was "little support" for changing the Church's teaching on marriage" - that it was between one man and one woman.

It also said the Church needed to repent [of] homophobic attitudes.

Read it all.

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England should not change its opposition to same-sex marriage, a new report has recommended, despite saying it needs to "repent on the homophobic attitudes" it has previously had.

A document from the House of Bishops says the Church should adopt a "fresh tone and culture of welcome and support" for gay people.

It says guidance in marriage should be interpreted in a way that provides "maximum freedom" for homosexuals.

Read it all.

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The report will then be the subject of a "take note" debate. Such a debate is a neutral motion. It allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in the report, but a vote in favour of the motion does not commit the Synod to the acceptance of any matter in the report. The House of Bishops will listen carefully to the debate, and to any subsequent matters raised by members in correspondence, to inform their further work.

Read it all (appended at the bottom).

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When reports to the General Synod are launched at a press briefing they are often published at the end of a process and contain recommendations. This report on marriage and same sex relationships from the House of Bishops isn't that sort of report. It describes where the bishops have reached in their reflections. It goes on to provide a framework identifying areas where we believe present advice, policies or practice need further consideration, and invites members of General Synod and the wider Church, to contribute. So this isn't the end of a process but we are somewhere in the middle of it. We are sharing where we have reached in order to be as transparent as possible, and open to other voices.

We hope that the tone and register of this report will help to commend it, though we recognise it will be challenging reading for some. This is no last word on this subject. For there are very different views on same sex relationships within the Church, and within the House of Bishops, mainly based on different understandings of how to read scripture. The House is agreed, however, that our present teaching documents do not address some elements of the contemporary situation regarding marriage and relationships in our culture. I refer to the current teaching document on marriage, issued by the House of Bishops in 1999, and an earlier document on same sex relationships, Issues in Human Sexuality. Neither discusses nor even anticipates same sex marriage, a reminder of just how quickly things have changed. Issues, published in 1991, was written when Clause 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was in force. It prohibited the promotion of homosexuality in schools and prevented local councils from spending money on lesbian and gay projects including anything which suggested support of what it called "pretended family relationships". The temper of the time in which Issues was written was a very different one from ours. The later teaching document from 1999 simply assumes marriage is the union of one man with one woman. Hence, the House of Bishops believes it needs to commission a new teaching document which articulates such an understanding of marriage within a theology of relationships for our changed times. This report isn't that document but it indicates why it is needed.

Read it all (appended at the bottom).

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's law and guidance on marriage should be interpreted to provide "maximum freedom" for gay and lesbian people without changing the Church's doctrine of marriage itself, bishops are recommending.

A report from the House of Bishops to be discussed by the Church's General Synod next month upholds the teaching, recognised by canon law, that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

But it also concludes that the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples - which allows clergy to provide informal prayers for those marrying or forming a civil partnership - is not clear enough and should be revisited.

Read it all.

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From the deliberations of the House and the College as described...there has emerged a provisional approach regarding how the Church of England should move forward in this area following the conclusion of the Shared Conversations. The two key elements of this would be:

(a) proposing no change to ecclesiastical law or to the Church of England’s existing doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships; and

(b) initiating fresh work in the four key areas identified [in 4 key areas]....

Read it carefully and read it all.

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Instead of appealing to the national Episcopal church or the bishop to lift his own ban on priests officiating same-sex marriages, lay and clergy members of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee sent the matter to a task force for further study.

More than two-thirds of the delegates at the diocese's Annual Convention on Saturday supported a resolution that directs the diocese's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender task force to assess how Bishop John Bauerschmidt's marriage restrictions affect congregations and clergy in Middle Tennessee.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ben Bradshaw, a Labour MP who is in a civil partnership, said: “It is progress for them to stop asking the celibacy question but it still leaves the Church of England policy based essentially on dishonesty and encouraging its clergy to lie.”

He also suggested the church’s apparent reluctance to usher in full equality meant it could be time for parliament to intervene, as it did when the synod initially refused to allow women to become bishops in 2012.

Bradshaw, a member of parliament’s ecclesiastical committee, said: “There is a growing sense that if the church can’t sort this out for themselves, then parliament may have to do it for them.”

Frank Field, a fellow Labour member of the committee, urged the bishops to be “brave” and usher in equality, with a conscience clause for those clergy who feel they cannot marry gay people.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Under current Church rules, gay clergy wanting to enter into civil partnerships are required to assure their bishops they will remain celibate – in line with traditional Church teaching that sex is only permitted within heterosexual marriage.
Such clergy also have to make similar official assurances to their archbishop before they can be promoted to the rank of bishop.
But sources said the bishops could now call for the rule to be scrapped so that clerics living with same-sex partners would no longer have to make a solemn vow.
They would still be expected to remain celibate.

Read it all.

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Posted December 19, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of CEEC’s tasks, prompted by “Guarding the Deposit”, is to consider together the various ways evangelicals will respond to this situation and how the wider church might face the reality of our diversity over human sexuality. “Guarding the Deposit” outlines three broad ways the church might act in 2017 and beyond.

Its hope is that the Church of England will maintain its current teaching and practice as the 2007 Synod committed us to do. Alternatively there may be a full acceptance of same-sex relationships as in a few other Anglican provinces. This would undoubtedly lead to major division within the CofE and the destruction of the Anglican Communion in its current form. There may therefore be an attempt – as in the Pilling Report – to offer some form of supposed via media with official permission for marking of same-sex relationships.

But, as “Guarding the Deposit” argues, this too would both represent a departure from apostolicity and lead to continuing conflict. It would therefore require some form of agreed visible differentiation and structural separation within the Church of England (and wider Communion).

Read it all.

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Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The College of Bishops of the Church of England met at Lambeth Palace on Monday 12th December.

The meeting began with a service of Holy Communion and reflections from the Archbishop of York. Discussions on issues of sexuality took place as part of a process of episcopal discernment which began in September and continued at the meeting of the House of Bishops in November.

The college discussed the reflections of the House from their November meeting and also received an update from the Chair of the Bishops Reflection Group on Sexuality.

Read it all.

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Posted December 13, 2016 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many churches have been involved in wonderful work in ministering in fearful communities, caring for the suffering and the families of those killed by disease or violence, while at the same time (in the case of bible-based congregations), continuing to teach of the love of Christ, and following God’s design for celibate singleness and faithful marriage as the best way of avoiding HIV. Some churches have been brave enough to challenge, with the Gospel, the toxic culture of machismo which is partly responsible for the high levels of murder and sexual abuse. While of course there are church leaders and nominal Christians who live no differently to those in the communities around them, there are many thousands of godly, prayerful and compassionate men and women who understand that counter-cultural sexual purity and control of anger is not old fashioned prudishness but a literal lifesaver and a witness to God’s goodness.

This background, essential for understanding any discussion about sex in South Africa, did not feature in the BBC programme, which sought to give the impression that people with same sex attraction are uniquely vulnerable. While violence against gay people is appalling and unacceptable, it is sadly part of a culture where women are abused whether they are gay or not, and people are beaten up and murdered for being foreign, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, for having a phone, for looking at someone’s girlfriend, etc, etc. The Western concept of LGBT rights is simply inappropriate in such a context. The church should be speaking up publicly against all violence and abuse, and developing communities of peace, safety and tolerance (as is doing so in many places), not focusing on one particular minority.

Also, given the prevalence of heterosexual promiscuity in society and even in the church, which combined with the sexual abuse has contributed to the devastating spread of AIDS and family breakdown, what effect would an acceptance and celebration of same sex relationships have in the townships and across Africa as a whole? It would surely send the message that the church is controlled by white Western liberalism (not good for mission?); that the Bible is not reliable; and that only ‘love’, not sexual self-control, is the concern of the church. If a same sex relationship is OK, people will ask, then why is adultery wrong?

Read it all.

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Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ET found that Bishop Inwood’s refusal to grant Canon Pemberton an EPML did fall under s 53 Equality Act 2010 and was a “relevant qualification” within the meaning of s 54: that was not the case, however, in respect of the revocation of his PTO. The ET further held, however, that the EPML qualification was for the purposes of employment for the purposes of an organised religion and the compliance principle was engaged; therefore, Bishop Inwood was exempt from liability by reason of paragraph 2, schedule 9 Equality Act 2010. As for the harassment claim, Bishop Inwood’s conduct did not amount to harassment. Context was everything: Canon Pemberton would not have experienced that (admittedly, unwanted) conduct had he not defied the doctrine of the Church. Moreover, Bishop Inwood had acted lawfully pursuant to schedule 9; it would be an affront to justice if his conduct was found to constitute harassment.

Read it all.

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Posted December 10, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One question which hovered over the initial ET judgment was in relation to the doctrine of the Church in relation to marriage. I was startled when, under cross-examination, Richard Inwood had agreed that the doctrine of the Church ‘was a busted flush’. But both the ET and the EAT have ruled that, in the context of employment law, the Church’s doctrine of marriage is both clear and enforceable, and that clergy can reasonably be expected to conform to it.

As for the doctrines of the Church, this referred to the teachings and beliefs of the religion and the ET had been entitled to find these were as stated by Canon B30 (“marriage is … a union … of one man with one woman …”), evidenced, in particular, by the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The Respondent had applied a requirement that the Claimant not be in a same sex marriage so as to comply with the doctrines of the Church; it was not fatal to the ET’s conclusion in that regard that a different Bishop might not have done the same.

That final comment seems to me to be highly significant. Even if the Church’s doctrine has been applied inconsistently in the past, and elsewhere in the Church, then that does not undermine the action of a bishop who acts on it. In other words, if the collegial support for this doctrine in the House of Bishops collapses, and some bishops decide to declare UDI [Unilateral Declaration of Independence] and ignore the doctrine, then other bishops are still secure in law in enacting discipline based on this doctrine.

Read it all.

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Posted December 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Pemberton, a hospital chaplain in Lincolnshire, was barred in 2014 by the then acting Bishop of Southwell from taking up a job for the NHS in Nottinghamshire, just weeks after marrying.
The Church had warned him marriage other than between heterosexual couples was against its teaching.
In a statement today, Mr Pemberton said his appeal had been dismissed on every ground but judge Jennifer Eady QC had granted leave to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Pemberton said: "The result is, obviously, not the one my husband and I had hoped for...."

Read it all.

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Posted December 7, 2016 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Perhaps progressives hope and expect that, under the heavy weight of the law, traditionalists will abandon their religious conviction that sexual relations should be confined to marriage between a man and a woman. If that is the expectation, then the project would appear to be one in suppression or elimination: disagreements about marriage and sexuality should be eliminated by using law to make one side disappear.

More commonly, though, what we hear from the progressive side is that the Christian florist and photographer and marriage counselor are still free to retain their private religious convictions about marriage. They simply cannot act on those convictions while carrying on the business of florist or photographer or counselor. Such religious commitments should be left behind when the believer enters the public square. If a believer is unwilling or unable to make that sacrifice, then she should stay at home or find some other line of work.

This position is overtly segregationist in its strategy for dealing with religious diversity. Those who take this view are analogous to the 1960s segregationist who said, “Of course there’s a place for you: it just isn’t here (in this school, or this section of the bus, or this end of the lunch counter).” In that respect, it is the contemporary progressive, not the Christian florist or photographer, who is the faithful heir of Jim Crow.

Read it all from Professor Steven Smith at PD.


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Posted December 2, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Second, we often hear that the Church is evolving on this issue, especially every time a Christian celebrity changes their minds. But the vast majority of evangelicals still hold to the traditional view, and they’re not changing their minds anytime soon. As my “BreakPoint This Week” cohost, Ed Stetzer, points out in Christianity Today, “Evangelical organizations across the spectrum are making clear where they stand on marriage.” Groups like the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Christianity Today, and even more progressive social-justice-minded organizations like World Vision and Fuller Seminary, have all unambiguously committed to hold the line on this issue.

As have denominations. Virtually every evangelical communion has reaffirmed God’s design for sex and marriage. Even in the United Methodist Church, long considered a stronghold of liberal theology, and in the worldwide Anglican communion, the marriage debate has taken a conservative turn as traditional members in Africa and elsewhere exert their influence.

But, some will reply, “If Christians don’t all agree on what marriage is, you can’t say there’s such a thing as ‘the Christian position.’” But Christian truth isn’t made of what people who call themselves Christians say. It’s revealed truth, made known through creation, through Scripture, ultimately through Christ—each of which are quite clear about what makes us male and female, what marriage is, and about sexual morality.

Read it all.

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Posted November 30, 2016 at 2:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There have always been examples of unkind attitudes, bullying and discrimination towards people who appear to be, or who identify as, homosexual, just as there has always been racism, snobbery and other ugly traits. Sadly, Christians have sometimes been guilty of this, and in doing so we are failing to follow the way of Christ.

However, in recent years the accusation of ‘homophobia’ has been levelled not just at these unkind attitudes towards gay people, but also reasoned biblical convictions about problems associated with homosexual practice, and any expression of concern about the power and intolerance of pressure groups. We are told that no matter how compassionate a person is towards gay people, if we do not fully embrace the goodness of the gay identity and lifestyle we are homophobes. We are said to rely on irrational feelings and thoughts to reject and damage homosexual people.

You cannot argue your way out of such a moral judgement. You are not being accused of using bad arguments to support a case, but of reacting viscerally in an immoral and damaging way.

Not surprisingly, in the West in particular, those who wish to argue for a traditional sexual ethic have been intimidated by the word.

Read it all.

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Posted November 29, 2016 at 2:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Secondly, “clergy and laity are entitled to argue for changes to teaching and practice”. Again, of course we have freedom of speech! But this seems to open the door to the widespread promotion of any view, even an irresponsible disregard for core doctrines, which include marriage. This provision was no doubt originally intended to allow for a free exchange of views during the ‘Shared Conversation’ process. Its effect now will be again to undermine any idea of clear universally agreed teaching in which we can have confidence.

Thirdly, the letter says “prayers of support on a pastoral basis for people in same-sex relationships” are permitted in churches. This is very misleading: in its original context (The Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance of 2014) such private prayers were clearly distinguished from public ‘prayers of blessing’ which are explicitly not permitted. Without this clear distinction, public services of celebration of same sex relationships could be carried out under the guidelines of ‘pastoral prayer’ - and indeed such services are being carried out as the GAFCON document on Lambeth I:10 violations shows.

On one hand, then, the Church of England has an official doctrine of sex and marriage based on the wonderful fruitful biblical vision of godly celibate singleness, man and woman sacrificially committed to each other exclusively for life, a family of mum, dad and kids; power for living it out, forgiveness for all (ie the 100%) who fall short. But in practice the Church is extremely diffident about explaining or commending this vision, not just because it knows that many in the ranks of its own leadership don’t believe in it, but because it is more afraid of unpopularity from the secular British establishment and Twitter mobs than it is concerned about fellowship with the worldwide church or doing what is right before God.

So rather than changing the doctrine, the Church puts it on the shelf, and allows other beliefs and practices to take hold. The church officially believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, but Bishops can argue for same sex marriage, and clergy can conduct a ceremony which looks to all intents and purposes like the blessing of a same sex relationship, and it’s ‘within the guidelines’.

Read it all.

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 2:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have seen a paper entitled, "The Church of England and Lambeth 1:10", produced by GAFCON UK and dated 13 November, which is described as a briefing to GAFCON Primates. It purports to be an account of "the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes and teaching on sexual ethics."

The paper paints a significantly misleading picture both of the teaching and practice of the Church of England, and of Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. I am writing to correct some of the erroneous assertions.

Read it all.

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Posted November 23, 2016 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even when they try to stake out a more ostensibly counter-cultural position, as Hatmaker did in 7, they often end up mimicking more mainstream trends in rich, suburban America.

To be fair, the BELONG Tour is not unique in this. Millennial evangelicals from this second-generation seeker-sensitive movement are doing this sort of thing en masse. The other obvious example of this is the Q Conference, which is an evangelical riff on TED talks.

Even so, this needs to be understood: The things that Hatmaker said last week are entirely consistent with a movement that cannot create culture but can only react to it and mimic it. Even where I think she is more right than wrong, as she is in her handling of race issues, for example, her response shows a kind of captivity to prevailing cultural norms that are typical of seeker-sensitive ministries. It is a movement driven by the same techniques used to grow businesses and which interprets the contemporary expression of Christian faith through the medium of current cultural norms and, particularly, common business norms and practices.

There is simply no foundation in the movement for someone like Hatmaker to resist the cultural momentum that has carried so many people toward a view of the human body and sexuality that is wildly out of step with historic Christian teachings.

To the extent that Hatmaker has helped promote and grow this sort of syncretist Christianity she should be criticized, but this problem is far older than Hatmaker and is something that Hatmaker inherited from other older Christians. So criticism that singles out Hatmaker is misguided; Hatmaker is one part of a much larger sub-culture of evangelicalism that is deeply broken and incapable of doing the very things it was designed to do, which is communicate the truths of the Gospel to a culture that finds those truths increasingly strange and alien. By adopting the norms of the bourgeois, the attractional Christians of the 1970s were setting themselves and their children up to become good syncretists and utterly incapable of mounting any kind of serious prophetic critique of their culture.

Read it all.

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Posted November 4, 2016 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One would never learn from Wolterstorff’s reading of Romans 1 that multiple New Testament exegetes have offered cogent responses to Boswell’s interpretation, undermining its credibility even for most “progressive” Christians writing in this area today. Specifically, Wolterstorff declines to mention the pitched debate over the import of the multiple allusions Paul makes in Romans 1 to Genesis 1-3, allusions that suggest that “nature,” as Paul understands it, isn’t simply “what is common in Paul’s day” but rather what is given in God’s creation itself.

All of Wolterstorff’s engagement with Scripture appears to be shaped by his gambit: If same-sex sexual intimacy isn’t inherently unloving, then opposition to same-sex marriage can only be due to a misbegotten commitment to divine command theory. Once one sees that those supposed divine commands—for instance, in Romans 1—aren’t in fact a black-and-white proscription of all gay sex, then the traditionalists’ jig is up. And this is where Wolterstorff ends his lecture: Having neutralized the proof-texts beloved of conservatives, he closes with a positive case for same-sex marriage.

Read it all.

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Posted November 4, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 3, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Bayes’ article is a mixture of Christian and secular aspiration, but it is fatally flawed by his preferencing the spirit of the age and its values over Scripture and spiritual discernment.

He begins his article by encouraging change and transformation, (St Paul would agree with that) but he is unwilling or unable to make any discrimination between wholesome, holy desires- desires of the Spirit as the New Testament teaches, and desires of the flesh – the lower nature. Not all change is good.

The New Testament understands the idea of the heart’s desire he advocates, but it locates it as a Christian in a longing for God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Bishop Bayes, ditching any recognition of being single and celibate, locates it in the desire for a romantic, erotic relationship; and in the face of the whole weight of Christian experience and biblical teaching, encourages the anger that is the fruit of the frustration of not getting what you want, to be directed against the Church.

This is taking up cudgels on behalf of the flesh, not the Spirit, as not only misses but perverts the point of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Read it all.

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Posted November 2, 2016 at 3:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in very challenging times for Christians in the West. There are cultural forces that unsettle and disturb the Church, and at times threaten to engulf it.

The tragedy is that many Christians and many church leaders are swept away by many developments that are at odds with our faith. They are lost or missing in action and have become victims of cultural struggles and differences that have always been with us since the very beginnings of Christianity. Others have changed sides and actively campaign against faith positions they once held dear.

There are several developments which I find appalling and which I will loosely group around issues to do with Christianity and western law which have long themselves been linked.

1. It is absolutely chilling that Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland have lost their case in the Court of Appeal. The original ruling was that Ashers had discriminated against a gay man because they refused to bake a cake that carried a pro-gay marriage slogan. Let’s not forget that Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that retains the previous perfectly serviceable and Christian definition of marriage. The Ashers Bakery contended that they are happy to bake cakes for anyone but would have refused to bake a cake supporting gay marriage even if a heterosexual had asked them to do so....

Read it all (subscription required).

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ashers Baking is owned by the McArthur family. It offered to bake cakes iced with a graphic of the customer’s own design. Gareth Lee is gay; and to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, in May 2014 he ordered a cake from Ashers bearing the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” and a picture of the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie. Ashers initially accepted his order but Mrs Karen McArthur subsequently telephoned him to say that his order could not be fulfilled because Ashers was a Christian business and that, with hindsight, she should not have taken the order in the first place. She apologised and refunded his money.

Before Belfast County Court, in Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd & Anor [2015] NICty 2 Mr Lee had claimed that he had been discriminated against contrary to the provisions of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and/or the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998. District Judge Brownlie found for Mr Lee, concluding that Ashers Baking was liable under the 2006 Regulations for the unlawful acts of its two directors, Mr and Mrs McArthur, and that they, in turn, were liable under Regulation 24 for aiding Ashers Baking to act unlawfully. As a result of their actions, the company had discriminated unlawfully against Mr Lee. They appealed and the matter came before the Court of Appeal in Belfast by way of case stated.

Read it all.

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Posted October 27, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But if there is a growing gap between the beliefs of the elites and the laws of the nation on one hand, and the Christian Church on the other, then the Bible and church history give clear guidance: the Church’s responsibility is to do precisely the opposite of what Mr Archer suggests, and stick to its principles courageously, compassionately and prophetically, as for example the Anglican Church did in South Africa, otherwise it becomes a puppet of the State and a religious cipher in society.

Mr Archer goes on to predict, with approval, that Parliament will in time act to “urge” the Church of England to change its official teaching and practice regarding sexual ethics and marriage. He may be right, and readers should not be surprised in the coming months to see influential leaders such as Mr Archer siding with Government and media to put pressure on the Church in this way.

Read it all.

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Posted October 20, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The] Rev. Dr Keith Mascord appears to be the first Anglican casualty of the same-sex marriage debate.

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Glenn Davies has decided not to renew Rev. Mascord's ministry licence.

Read and listen to it all.

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Posted October 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of July’s vote on same-sex marriages at General Synod, Indigenous Anglicans intend to “proceed towards self-determination with urgency,” the Anglican Church of Canada’s three Indigenous bishops say.

General Synod voted this summer to provisionally approve changes to the marriage canon, which would allow same-sex marriages. The proposed changes must pass a second reading, slated for the next General Synod in 2019, before they can take effect.

On Thursday, September 22, National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald; Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh; and Bishop Adam Halkett, of Missinipi, released ajoint statement they say was requested by an Indigenous circle that met after the results of July’s vote were revealed. The bishops begin by saying that they do not speak for all Indigenous peoples, although, they add, they have consulted “broadly and deeply” with many. The statement voices displeasure both with the decision and the process it was made, and expresses desire for a more self-determined Indigenous Anglican community in Canada.

Read it all.

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Posted September 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The majority position of the Way Forward Working Group (composed of some of the best legal and theological minds of our church) agreed that blessing committed same-sex couples is not a departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, and therefore not prohibited by Te Pouhere (our church’s constitution). Many places provide such blessings, and people in committed same-sex relationships hold a bishop’s licence. Under the 2016 revision of Te Pouhere, bishops can even authorise such blessings in places under their jurisdiction.

I propose that our doctrine of marriage be changed to being between a couple, with the intent that it be lifelong and monogamous. Such a change would enable the sort of diversity illustrated in my first paragraph. The change would remove the current hypocrisy around marrying divorcees, clarify practice in relation to committed same-sex relationships, and facilitate honesty and openness.

Within this, I propose we affirm the current position that any minister shall have full discretion to decline to conduct any marriage service or blessing, and that we also affirm and encourage vocations to religious life, singleness, and chastity.

Yours in Christ,

(Rev) Bosco Peters

Read it all.

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Posted September 24, 2016 at 12:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have welcomed the establishment of a Reflection Group under the leadership of Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich. Whilst expressing disappointment that a group tasked with reflecting on issues of human sexuality does not appear to include any openly gay people, we recognise that this simply reflects the reality within the church’s leadership - that LGBT people are invisible, our voices often silenced, and our experiences unheard. We welcome the opportunities which have arisen as part of the Shared Conversations to included the lived experience, deep conviction and prophetic witness of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and we recognise the enormously costly nature of the contribution many people have made to that process.

The Reflection Group must now consider the Church’s steps into the future. In doing so, they will be called to listen carefully to all they have heard during the Shared Conversations. We call upon them to lead the House of Bishops towards a future that celebrates the gifts of all God's people including the LGBTI members of the Church of England and embodies the radical equality to which we are called in Christ.

Read it all.

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Posted September 22, 2016 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Kevin Robertson was among three priests elected suffragan bishops at a synod of the diocese of Toronto, Saturday, September 17. Photo: Diocese of Toronto

A gay man living with a male partner is among three priests to have been elected suffragan bishops in the diocese of Toronto this weekend.

On Saturday, September 17, members of an electoral synod elected the Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw, Canon Kevin Robertson and Canon Jenny Andison as suffragan, or assistant, bishops. Each will be responsible for one of the diocese’s four episcopal areas: York-Scarborough, York-Credit Valley, Trent-Durham and York-Simcoe. Archbishop Colin Johnson, diocesan bishop, will decide which bishop will serve in each area. Bishop Peter Fenty is currently the bishop responsible for York-Simcoe.

Canon Kevin Robertson, incumbent at Christ Church, Deer Park in Toronto, was elected on the fourth ballot of the second election. According to an article on the diocese of Toronto website, Robertson, who lives with his male partner, said it was a “historic day.” He said he believed he was the first openly gay and partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps even in the entire Anglican Church of Canada.

His election, Robertson said, together with this summer’s provisional vote at General Synod to allow same-sex marriages, showed a growing acceptance of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) people in the church.

Read it all. You can read more about the Suffragan Bishop-elect there.

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Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Supporters of a change in the Church of England’s stance on sexuality have voiced dismay after a new panel of bishops to help “discern” its future course on issues such as same-sex marriage was chosen seemingly dominated traditionalists.

The 10-strong “Bishop’s Reflection Group” appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York includes a string of prominent evangelicals and some seen as staunch conservatives but no-one who has openly advocated a change in teaching or practice on the issue.

Liberals voiced anger while opponents of any change also privately hailed the make-up of the group, set up after a four-day gathering of all the bishops last week, as better than they expected from their point of view.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A homosexuality debate by Church of England bishops will remain private to allow views to "deepen and flourish", the new Bishop of Oxford has said.

The College of Bishops met in Oxford earlier this week to discuss attitudes towards sexuality.

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft told BBC Oxford talks were "constructive" and would continue through the autumn.

He said the bishops would reveal their conclusions to the General Synod in February next year.

Read it all.

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What we now see is occurring because Christians have allowed our own minds to become dull, darkened, and depraved. We’ve allowed this to happen, not out of malice toward God or bad intentions, but because our passive minds have resulted in passive lives and a weakened, impotent, wandering, and often confusing and contradictory witness to the Gospel and the life of Christ within.

Simply put, the world has done a better job of evangelizing us to its ways than we have of evangelizing the world to the magnificent good news of the Gospel.

Upholding constitutional rights and the human dignity of those who are same-sex attracted is a matter of basic human decency. But same-sex marriage is something completely different. As a gay man, allow me to make what is perhaps a startling declaration: same-sex marriage is a great coup for the devil, far greater than individual homosexual acts or relationships ever were or ever could be. Same-sex marriage mocks Christ’s relationship with his Bride, the Church. That is the source of the fury being hurled at those who speak out against same-sex marriage.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We want to wish the Archbishop well in his retirement. We note the Archbishop’s final presidential address at Governing Body, and still struggle to understand how his approach to scripture is not just licence to disregard its authority. We believe that the inclusivity of Jesus, to which the Archbishop referred, was one not only of loving everyone, but also of calling everyone to a degree of repentance which would result in following him exclusively as Lord. We note Jesus gave an invitation to everyone, but warned repeatedly and frequently of consequences for those who rejected him. We are therefore delighted that one of the closing discussions at Governing Body got people talking about the need to engage in mission and evangelism. We hope and pray that these are the issues that occupy the time and energy of the Church in Wales in the years to come.

Read it all.

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

GAFCON UK is puzzled as to why the Church of England needs a 'Bishops' Reflection Group' on homosexuality. Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference is clear, and the Bible is universally clear. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are same-sex attracted, and faithfully living according to God's revealed plan for human flourishing. As pastors, teachers, friends, and neighbours we can have no other response. The Church of England needs to have the courage of its foundational convictions, return to them, and move on to its mission of calling the nation to turn to Christ as the only Saviour and Lord.


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Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...to the typical observer, it’s the Francis position that looks more like the church’s real teaching (He is the pope, after all), even if it’s delivered off the cuff or in footnotes or through surrogates.

That position, more or less, seems to be that second marriages may be technically adulterous, but it’s unreasonable to expect modern people to realize that, and even more unreasonable to expect them to leave those marriages or practice celibacy within them. So the sin involved in a second marriage is often venial not mortal, and not serious enough to justify excluding people of good intentions from the sacraments.

Which brings us back to Tim Kaine’s vision, because it is very easy to apply this modified position on remarriage to same-sex unions. If relationships the church once condemned as adultery are no longer a major, soul-threatening sin, then why should a committed same-sex relationship be any different? If the church makes post-sexual revolution allowances for straight couples, shouldn’t it make the same ones for people who aren’t even attracted to the opposite sex?

Read it all.

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Posted September 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ballarat's Anglican Bishop Garry Weatherill has declared his support for same-sex marriage and said he opposed the Federal Government's proposed plebiscite on the issue.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday introduced legislation into the Lower House for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage to be held on February 11.

At this stage, Labor is expected to block the passage of the bill.

Read it all.

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 4:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the New Testament too, some of the passages often cited are not about loving, committed, faithful relationships between people of the same sex, but about pederasty and male prostitution. But all that apart, and given that each of the passages purported to be about homosexuality can be interpreted in more than one way, we come to the fundamental question as to whether taking the Bible as a whole, we can come to the same conclusions about committed, faithful, loving, same-sex relationships as we did about slavery.

We are not thereby abandoning the Bible but trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus, who went out of His way to minister to those who were excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by His society because they were regarded as impure and unholy by the religious leaders of His day, either because of their gender, age, morality or sexuality. Taking Holy Scripture seriously means paying attention to Jesus’ ministry of inclusivity.

And all of that without bringing into the reckoning what we now know about same-sex attraction in terms of psychology and biology and the experience of homosexual people. And surely if God is the creator, He reveals Himself to us through new knowledge and insights so that, for example, we no longer believe the world was created in six days. As I have tried to show, in the Bible there are a number of totally different perspectives on the same issue. What was responsible for this shift was a growth in understanding about the issue in question.

Read it all.

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He compared biblical interpretations of same-sex relationships with those of slavery – a practice once defended by the Church. As opinions on that changed, he suggested, so may the Church’s view on same-sex relationships.

“In spite of all the passages in favour of slavery, when you examine the Scriptures as a whole and the ministry of Jesus in particular, you realise it is about freedom from all that diminishes and dehumanises people. No Christian I hope would today argue that slavery is good, but for nineteen centuries the Church accepted it and defended it. God through His Holy Spirit has led us into the truth of seeing things in a totally different way today and we are rightly horrified when we read about people who have been kept as slaves by others.

“What all this amounts to is that one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting Scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned. Scripture itself is diverse and theological views held in some biblical books are reshaped in the light of experience by other writers….

Read it all.

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Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The letter writers are, however, unlikely to accept this conclusion. Their call for full inclusion asked for much more. They want the bishops to “enable those parishes that wish to do so to celebrate the love that we have found in our wives and husbands”. But this is to address a separate question from that of inclusion. It is a question not of including people but of deciding which of the many patterns of life found among LGBTI people the church can faithfully celebrate. Even their own proposal would not be fully inclusive of all LGBTI people once inclusion is to be understood beyond “full participation in ministry”. It would still exclude from the church’s liturgical celebrations those who, for whatever reason, do not choose to marry their same-sex partner but to structure their relationships in other ways.

Despite this, the appeal to inclusion continues in order to persuade people to go further and commend same-sex unions. But this is a quite distinct matter involving inclusion and approval of certain ways of life as morally acceptable rather than inclusion of people. The reason for this continued appeal to inclusion was caught by Justin Welby speaking at Greenbelt where he said:

We cannot pretend that – so I’m putting one case then I’m going to put the other – we cannot pretend or I can’t pretend myself that inclusion from the point of view of someone in a same sex relationship just to take a simple…that inclusion of someone in a same sex relationship that falls short of the blessing of the Church is going to feel like inclusion – it’s not going to be perceived as inclusion. I think we’re conning ourselves if we say that there is some clever solution out there that means you can do less than that and it will feel like inclusion.

Here – voicing the views of many – he has developed the language of inclusion in two important but flawed respects. It refers to a subjective experience – something must “feel like inclusion”– and then to inclusion in a specific form as being necessary if it is “to be perceived as inclusion” and meet that subjective test: the “blessing of the Church” on “a same sex relationship”. These two moves are what then lead to a number of problems.

Read it all from Fulcrum.

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Posted September 12, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Freier's letter notes that the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer - that marriage is between a man and a woman "under God" - would remain unchanged.
"I do not believe the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage," he writes.
"But ... the church also understands the desire of two people to express their commitment of love and self-sacrifice and Christians have not always shown the respect or perspective they should."

Read it all.

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Posted September 10, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Asked about...[the GAFCON] statement, Dr Chamberlain said: “I read it and listened to the news. I can well understand what is being said by my brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Susie Leafe, who chairs Reform, told the BBC that she sympathised with Dr Chamberlain for having been “hounded by the secular press and forced into making a statement”: “All human beings have a range of complex desires. Who he is attracted to should not make any difference to his ability to do the job of a bishop,” she said.

The Bishop of Grimsby, Dr David Court, who trained at Oak Hill, and described himself as coming from a “more traditional part of the Church . . . who may struggle with some of the issues here”, joined the BBC Lincolnshire interview on Sunday to show support for Dr Chamblerlain. “I am here to give credence to the fact that we want to work together, and that it is possible.”

Read it all.

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

David Ison, the dean of St Paul’s, who was also involved in gathering signatures for the letter, said the status quo was not an option. “I believe that there’s a growing consciousness across the church that our response to lay and ordained LGBTI Christians cannot stay as it is. We need far greater honesty and transparency with one another, and to ensure that all LGBTI people are welcomed and affirmed by a church called to share the redeeming love of Christ with all.”

Responding to the letter, Nicholas Holtam, the bishop of Salisbury, said: “It is not surprising that the bishops are receiving letters from all sides in advance of our meeting next week. We are in a long process, seeking the way forward together. This letter is encouraging of that process, both in content and the number of signatories. It is a very welcome and supportive contribution.”

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said he was glad to receive the letter. “It was especially good to recognise the signatures of synod colleagues from many of the different traditions that make up our richly diverse church,” he said.

Read it all.

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We hope that this will be with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod. In particular, we pray it will continue to develop the new “relational approach” that has enabled us to bridge our sometimes unhelpful “tribal divides”.

Whilst not wishing to pre-empt the work of the College of Bishops, we would ask that the steps that are proposed create greater clarity and consistency in our approach to this complex issue. In particular, we are keen that the College of Bishops is unequivocal in its acknowledgement that all, including those who identify as LGBTI, are essential to the health and future of our church and mission to the wider world.

Read it all and see the list of signatories there.

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Wednesday, August 17, the Wyoming Supreme Court heard a case that has huge implications for each and every one of us.

The case involves Judge Ruth Neely, who has served with distinction for twenty-one years as the municipal judge in Pinedale, Wyoming. Since municipalities have no authority either to issue a license or solemnize a marriage, you would think that she’s unaffected by all the hoopla over same-sex marriage. But you would be mistaken. Because of her beliefs about marriage, the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics (CJCE) wants to remove her from her job and disqualify her for service anywhere in the Wyoming judiciary.

The story began on a cold Saturday morning in December 2014. Shortly after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declared Wyoming marriage statutes unconstitutional, a reporter from the Sublette Examiner called Judge Neely to ask if she was “excited” to perform same-sex marriages. It was only because she had accepted a part-time job as a circuit court magistrate that this question had any relevance at all. In that unpaid position, she was authorized, but not obligated, to solemnize marriages. She gave a perfectly reasonable reply. She said that if she were ever asked, she would help the couple find someone to do the job. However, she would “not be able to do” it herself.

Based on this solitary exchange about a hypothetical scenario, the commission has been waging what they call a “holy war” against her for more than a year. They are not content to send her a letter clarifying what she should have done, nor even a letter of reprimand. Instead, they are leveling the greatest possible punishment allowable by law—and the implications of their arguments are chilling.

Read it all.

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check them all out.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be good, at this time, for us traditionalists to remind ourselves that Bishop Chamberlain’s commitment to his partner most likely involves the kinds of virtues traditional Christians have long celebrated between people of the same sex: loyalty, comradeship, kindness, and a host of others. The fact that the bishop practices these virtues while experiencing himself as same-sex attracted is no proof that those virtues are thereby diminished. And it is also no proof that he is living a so-called double life.

But maybe I could also say something about what I find myself wishing Bishop Chamberlain might say publicly someday. I find myself thinking about something another Englishman, Martin Hallett, wrote several years ago:

There are probably nearly as many Christians with homosexual feelings who do not believe that homosexual sex is right for Christians as there are those who are advocating its acceptance…. A friend of mine in Sweden (Erik) is a Lutheran priest who believes in the traditional biblical teaching on sexuality and has homosexual feelings himself. He determined, from the beginning of his call to the ordained ministry, that he would be open about his sexuality at every stage…. Ultimately, as more evangelicals make such a public stand, it will seem less costly and will, I believe, have a tremendous impact for the kingdom of God…. [I want to] encourage those leaders in the church who have homosexual feelings but who believe homosexual sex is wrong to be more open. People like Erik… are not a tiny minority in terms of all homosexuals in the church…. I wish their voices could be heard saying that “We believe our homosexuality is part of our value and giftedness to the church, but homosexual sex is a sin.” What a difference this would make to the life, witness, and future of the body of Christ.

What a difference indeed.

Read it all.

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the idea of being in a celibate relationship possible or helpful? Jayne Ozanne argues vehemently that it is not possible to define or distinguish a sexual from a non-sexual relationships, since no-one can give here a list of things that you can and cannot do in either situation. (In fact, Sean Doherty has offered an answer to that question.) But that is a nonsense position; there is no end of situations where two people are required not to be in a sexual relationship, including a school teacher and pupil, or a professor and undergraduate student. Is it really the case that all such limitations are meaningless? This is the ethical situation of the hair and the beard: suppose (for health and safety reasons) an employee is required not to have a beard. How many whiskers are actually allowed before this constitutes a beard? If I don’t shave for a day, am I contravening this? Or two days? or three? There is no objective answer—subjective judgement is required—but this does not make the regulation meaningless.

Gavin Ashenden argues online and on the radio that Nick Chamberlain’s appointment is very unhelpful. I do like the way he starts the broadcast with a personal expression of support and sympathy for Chamberlain, and that he immediately goes on to agree that the appointment, in principle, is perfectly reasonable, and has clear historic precedent. But he then goes on to criticise Chamberlain’s use of the word ‘gay’, as buying into a sub-Christian and mistaken anthropology which defines us by our sexuality. I disagree with Gavin here, since Chamberlain says very clearly to the Guardian and his sexuality is only part of who he is, and he would much rather talk about ministry. It is notable that he makes no comment along that lines that he wants the Church to change its position.

Then of course there is the intervention by Peter Jensen from Sydney in the name of GAFCON. I don’t really understand why Jensen believes he has a brief to comment on affairs in the C of E; I have never taken it on myself to pronounce on the way he leads his diocese. The letter notes that the appointment is in line with the current position of the Church—but still thinks the appointment is a ‘major error.’ That doesn’t really make sense. What I think he intends to say is that the Church’s current position is a major error. The objection is to ‘same-sex relationships which are not sexual.’ The difficulty here is that I am in a number of same-sex relationships which are not sexual; I call them my friends, and Nick Chamberlain appears to be doing the same. It was interesting to note that, in his interview on Radio 4’s Sunday programme yesterday, he underplayed it as an ‘exclusive’ relationship, saying of his friend that ‘he, amongst many others, helps me stay sane.’

Read it all.

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Idowu-Fearon said: “It is clear that Bishop Nicholas has abided by the guidelines set down by the Church. In fact, his lifestyle would make him acceptable to serve the church at any time in its history. I reject the suggestion that his appointment is an ‘error’.

“I do recognise that this is a sensitive area for many people whatever their convictions. It is also a difficult time for Bishop Nicholas with revelations about his private life being made public in such a dramatic way, against his will, by anonymous sources that seem to be out to make trouble.

“The Anglican Communion is a worldwide family and, like any family, we don’t agree on everything,” he added. “But we are committed to working together on difficult issues. I want to reassure the Communion of my commitment to what was set out at the Lambeth conference in 1998 – that human sexuality finds it full expression in marriage between a man and woman. But all baptised, faithful and believing people are loved by God and full members of the body of Christ regardless of their sexual orientation. The Anglican Communion has never made sexual orientation a condition of eligibility to hold office within the church and I reject the suggestion that it has.”

Read it all.

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Posted September 6, 2016 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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