Canon Giles Fraser tells Ruth Gledhill why the Church should celebrate same sex marriage

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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47 Comments
Posted February 28, 2011 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Theophilus wrote:

subscribe

February 28, 9:09 am | [comment link]
2. Larry Morse wrote:

This is absurd. The homosexuals themselves refuse the submit to monogamy. They themselves says that sexual promiscuity exists and should exist during a “settled” relationship. How can this whey faced primrose talk as if homosexual marriage promotes monogamy, when it clearly does nothing of the sort. And having children? How can he ignore the difference between those who can’t have children and those who, praticing sodomy, DENY the very possibility for children. Sodomy is the very antithesis of the purpose of marriage using the the very text at stake.  As to the church, with friends like this, who needs enemies ?  No wonder the CofE is in trouble.
  Look at him: Soft, comfy,up scale, In With God - a new text abbreviation , IWG -the very model of a modern major liberal.
  O, I know, elves, I am not supposed to call names, but guys llike this are infuriating. How can she not slap his pasty fraudulant face? They are like naughty children who maintain they have permission to drive because they have stolen the keys to the family car.  Larry

February 28, 9:38 am | [comment link]
3. Mark Baddeley wrote:

Well, he defines ‘monogamy’ as ‘permanent, faithful, stable relationships’. That isn’t quite going as far as saying ‘sexually exclusive relationships’, and he’s English, which means that what he doesn’t say is (potentially at least) as important as what he does. His socio-economic demographic prefers indirect speech to direct, so listening to what is not said (and what is not affirmed) can (but isn’t always) as significant as what is said.

More interesting is the slight tension between interviewer and interviewee about the state legislating church’s to do this. Gledhill seems to want to get that idea out there, he wants to shut it down. Therein is the English way of social progression - do it slowly, using the coercive power of the law as little as possible, but confident that liberalism will always win in the long-term.

February 28, 10:03 am | [comment link]
4. Ralph wrote:

I seem to recall reading that Bill Countryman, who is openly homosexual, writes that societal norms for heterosexual marriage are inappropriate for homosexuals, and that there is nothing wrong with “open” relationships. Perhaps someone with a copy of that book could quote him.

February 28, 10:16 am | [comment link]
5. Dan Crawford wrote:

We should all celebrate celebration.

February 28, 10:45 am | [comment link]
6. alaninlondon wrote:

Well Larry Morse, you are not really interested in monogamy for homosexuals are you - otherwise you would be supporting any efforts to help and encourage them lead faithful sexually exclusive relationships rather than criticising such efforts wouldn’t you?  (If I have done you an injustice my apologies - but then please tell me what you would do to support such relationships?)  And this is the bottom line for reasserters.  For most of you there appears to be no moral ethical or theological distinction to be made between a faithful exclusive same-sex sexual relationship and those which are not faithful and exclusive.  Both are wrong.  Period.  So it is rather beside the point for reasserters to be making distinctions between faithfulness and promiscuity in this area one would think.  Or have I missed something? (Incidentally, the proposals re. same sex religious blessing ceremonies will compel no church denomination to undertake them.)

February 28, 11:35 am | [comment link]
7. Mark Baddeley wrote:

#6 It doesn’t work as easily as that on almost any point you touched on.

Some reasserters will prefer monogamy for homosexuals even though it such a relationship is still sin, just as they would prefer a monogamous de-facto relationship for heterosexuals over sexual promiscuity even though that is still sin.

And even if someone is interested in promoting monogamy among homosexuals, it still doesn’t mean that they will necessarily ‘be supporting any efforts to help and encourage them to lead faithful sexually exclusive relationships rather than criticising such efforts’. Institutions have their own integrity and reason for existing - while the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, the Sabbath can’t be just adapted to meet any attempt to help encourage people to find rest. Some of those attempts needed to be criticised - both for the sake of the sabbath, and for the sake of people’s need for true rest.  If that isn’t the case, then Jesus’ criticisms of Pharisees’ approaches to the Sabbath was incorrect.

And the same is true for marriage. Heterosexuals demonstrate an aspiration for sexual exclusivity, and an ability to be basically monogamous even outside the institution of marriage. It’s not clear that the same is either an aspiration in the same way for homosexuals generally, or a fact on the ground.

Hence, reasserters can indeed critique what seem to be either disingeneous or at least problematic arguments with integrity.

Marriage isn’t a magic bullet that creates faithful sexually-exclusive relationships ex nihilo. Us reasserters are entitled to say:
i) Marriage won’t bear the load you want to put on it. Find another solution if you really aspire to life-long monogamy.
ii) You’ll break it if you try, and it will no longer bear that load for heterosexual couples either if you try and do this.

And hence the likely outcome of this will be an overall reduction in life-long monogamy - it won’t help homosexuals as much as is being touted, and their example will then weaken the institution for heterosexuals. Like walking away from a loan that is ‘under water’, it becomes easier the more other people are doing it.

February 28, 11:52 am | [comment link]
8. Sarah wrote:

RE: “So it is rather beside the point for reasserters to be making distinctions between faithfulness and promiscuity in this area one would think.”

Not at all—it’s always good to point out the hypocrisy of the liberal activists out there.  Larry rightly pointed out that they don’t even mean “monogamy” when they say it.

Pointing out hypocrisy and irrational inconsistency is often a useful thing as it punctures the “arguments” of the liberal activists.

February 28, 12:25 pm | [comment link]
9. Cennydd13 wrote:

Any ‘relationship’ outside of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman is just plain wrong, and this especially means a physical relationship between persons of the same sex.  Unfortunately, such ‘relationships’ are all-too-common among gays and lesbians.

February 28, 12:32 pm | [comment link]
10. deaconmark wrote:

#9, why “especially?”  This is hardly the historical position of the Church.  Sin is sin.  The fact that an individual finds one sex act more unsavory than another does not change that.

February 28, 12:43 pm | [comment link]
11. DTerwilliger wrote:

It is interesting that in this new “christian” ethic, represented by Canon Fraser, if one “loves” consistently, sincerely, faithfully, exclusively, etc., that it changes something sinful into something to celebrate.  Of course, the problem is, loving what is sinful has never been a problem for mankind since the beginning.  The real question is, Where does loving God and obeying Him figure into the equation.  The “object(s)” of our love is the real question here - not merely the affection itself.

February 28, 1:03 pm | [comment link]
12. Paula Loughlin wrote:

#10 Because even if same sex relationship was within a so called marriage it would still be a sin.  On the other hand if a man and woman who have been fornicating get married they are no longer living in sin.  Homosexual behavior is sinful no matter the relationship it occurs within.  It can never be marriage no matter if that label is ever put on it.  I’m speaking of Christian sacramental marriage. 

Wishing and changing the meaning of words and bullying the public sphere into acceptance does not make the impossible possible.  The State can confer whatever honors it wishes to any relationship but the Church can not make marriage that which is not.

February 28, 1:08 pm | [comment link]
13. alaninlondon wrote:

#9, #10 & #11 seem to hit the mark without prevarication or casuistry.  My original point holds I think, re #7 - or are you somehow saying there IS some kind of hierarchy here - that faithful monogamous same sex relations are somehow ‘less bad’ than those which are purely causal?  If so how and in what way?  What are the ‘positives’?  And if there are any how do they impinge on our theological understandning of these issues?  I’d be pleased to hear them, certainly from my own point of view as a so-called ‘reappraiser’, as from there at least there is a possibility a basis for discussion.

February 28, 1:23 pm | [comment link]
14. Undergroundpewster wrote:

It is interesting that he claims the Prayer Book supports gay marriage.

To him, it all boils down to “love” doesn’t it?

I love my dog, but I don’t think God intends for me to marry him.

February 28, 1:34 pm | [comment link]
15. Undergroundpewster wrote:

He= the Canon in the video.

February 28, 1:35 pm | [comment link]
16. midwestnorwegian wrote:

Honestly, this rationalizing whatever you want in clear violation of God’s Holy Word is sickening to see coming from someone wearing a collar.  He should be defrocked.  Period.  Oh, that’s right…no teeth in Anglicanism…

February 28, 1:43 pm | [comment link]
17. Mark Baddeley wrote:

re:#13 It’s not something I’ve put substantially theological thought into, this whole debate is just a bit weird from a biblical point of view anyway. My response to #6 was (in my own mind) a more sketched out and more irenic version of #8.

Where I was coming from is that, while all sex outside of marriage is sin, even those of us who don’t accept complex Catholic causistry seem to operate with some view that says that there is some gradation of sinfulness. Most Christians seem to see a monogamous heterosexual de facto relationship as better (not sinless, but less sinful) than an open relationship or outright promiscuity.

The OT doesn’t seem to distinguish between a couple courting who consumate their courtship sexually due to lack of self-control and a couple who have an affair outright - on the face of it, both couples should be executed. Most Christians would not respond to those two things the same way. Starting with the Reformers at least, the first couple would (usually) be moved to a ‘shotgun wedding’, the latter ‘couple’ would be dealt with in a more varied way, I suspect (and usually more strictly). No-one would see either as ‘not sin’ but the sin would be treated differently.

My thinking is similar here, and it may be wrong. If I prefer de facto heterosexual monogamy to promiscuity (and I do, although I am opposed to de facto relationships as well), is there a reason why I would not distinguish between a monogamous homosexual relationship and a promiscuous homosexual lifestyle? Both are sin, but one is worse - is an even greater departure from the type that is marriage between a man and a woman.

Part of the question seems to be whether homosexuality is in such a different camp that all other factors are irrelevant and ‘levelled’ - doesn’t matter if it’s a gay bath house, or a long term, fairly sexualless lesbian couple, they are the same theologically and ethically. Or whether in making these judgements there are a range of factors in play - homosexuality is one, monogamy is another, and marriage is another (because monogamy and marriage can’t be collapsed into each other either - God’s ideal isn’t monogamy, but marriage).

I think among reasserters there may be a difference of opinion as to whether the homosexuality factor makes all other issues irrelevant - a monogamous couple is no different from promiscuity, and those who think it’s one very serious issue among others - all homosexual sexual activity is wrong, but some is more wrong than others.

But it’s a work in progress.

February 28, 1:52 pm | [comment link]
18. alaninlondon wrote:

Thanks Mark (#17) for your response (and patience) - very thoughtful and from my perspective encouraging for the possibility of dialogue.  Without compromising what ‘reasserters’ might say regarding the sinfulness of homosexual sexual relations, I think from your perspective it is possible to tentatively approach the issue thus:  ‘If you can’t be celibate (this would be the ideal with God’s help to strive for) at least don’t be promiscuous, find a relationship you can commit to and we (Chruch, Christian friends/relatives) will do all we can to help you from falling into graver sin by supporting you in that relationship. We won’t call it marriage, but we will certainly distinguish it from a casual premiscuous relationship.’  Given what you have said would that not be a fair base for the whole church to explore this issue from?

February 28, 2:35 pm | [comment link]
19. kmh1 wrote:

Giles Fraser wants to do to the Church of England what the revisionists have done to Tec. The liberal establishment propeled him to his position at St Paul’s, and he peddles his half-baked, anti-catholic, anti-evangelical ideas on the BBC. He was encouraged in this by his erstwhile bishop in Southwark, Tom Butler. Liberal evangelical bishops like Nick Bains of London did nothing to challenge his attacks on Scripture and tradition.

February 28, 2:36 pm | [comment link]
20. kmh1 wrote:

#18: the ‘lesser of two evils’ approach is easy to understand, and is usually the one taken by secular authorities, where the goal is not (or should not be) to make us good but to discourage and limit the scope for doing evil. That is why most societies try to control prostitution rather than abolish it: to attempt the latter would probably create more problems than it solves.
But as a standard for life in the Kingdom of God (rather than the City of Man) this is a wholly mistaken appraoch. Why so?
1. Because if homosexual desires and acts are objectively sinful (as the Bible and tradition state), then there is *no way* they can be institutionalized in the life of baptized Christians who have vowed to renounce evil and follow Christ, and certainly not among leaders whose lives must be models to emulate.
2. ‘Reappraisers’ don’t in any case accept that homosexual acts are objectively sinful. Giles Fraser is simply being consistent to his (incoherent) liberalism.

February 28, 2:51 pm | [comment link]
21. Mark Baddeley wrote:

#20 I agree - my thinking was an exercise in a Christian stance towards the city of man, and in no way at all (at all) to do with how we should live in the Kingdom of God. I would no more accept a Christian engaging in active homosexual sexual [removed]in any kind of structure) than I would one living in a de facto relationship. They would be welcome to come and hear the word of God taught, they would be loved, they could not participate in the sacraments, nor would their self-perception of themselves as being Christian go unchallenged.

February 28, 2:58 pm | [comment link]
22. kmh1 wrote:

I should add that I don’t experience same-sex attraction and don’t consider myself any “better” for that fact. I have my own struggles. I’ve never heard of anyone with SSA consciously “choose” to have such feelings, and rejection or condemnation of people because of their attractions is wholly wrong nad agaisnt the Gospel.

February 28, 3:18 pm | [comment link]
23. Sarah wrote:

RE: “I think from your perspective it is possible to tentatively approach the issue thus:  ‘If you can’t be celibate (this would be the ideal with God’s help to strive for) at least don’t be promiscuous, find a relationship you can commit to and we (Chruch, Christian friends/relatives) will do all we can to help you from falling into graver sin by supporting you in that relationship. We won’t call it marriage, but we will certainly distinguish it from a casual premiscuous relationship.’”

I can’t speak for others but that would not work for the Christians I know.

I’d modify it to say:  ‘If you assert that you cannot be celibate (this would be the ideal with God’s help to strive for) at least don’t be promiscuous, find a relationship you can commit to and we (Chruch, Christian friends/relatives) will do all we can to help both of you to learn to live into God’s calling regarding celibacy in the unmarried state. As you will be publicly engaging in scandalous sinful acts, we will welcome you into our churches, but not in positions of lay leadership, of course. 

I personally think there should be category distinctions between “attenders” and “members” with the latter being those who have committed to attempting to keep Biblical moral standards and not engaging in scandalous and open sin and when they do so, submitting to church discipline.  Obviously living in a same-sex sexual relationship is no such commitment—and such people should simply be held to the same standard as all the other church attenders.

February 28, 3:23 pm | [comment link]
24. Mark Baddeley wrote:

Hi alaninlondon (#18),

You’re welcome for the response, although it mightn’t be as encouraging as it seems - I try and generate a more irenic tone, but that doesn’t mean that my position isn’t still ‘hardnosed’ when you scratch behind the language.

So, to take your evaluation of my position, I’m not sure I agree with your first point: “If you can’t be celibate”. I’m faced with people who “can’t” do many things they should - can’t not steal, can’t not murder, can’t not be proud, can’t not be selfish, can’t not be idolatrous, can’t not be celibate. That last one isn’t a special case, it’s part of a very big set.

And I don’t think Christians generally (and this one in particular certainly) go, “You can’t do what is right, so I’ll encourage you to do something wrong that isn’t as wrong as another wrong option.” Just steal from the rich (and maybe even give to the poor), just sleep around every second week, be proud only about a few things etc.

So I’d never encourage anyone to enter into any sexual relationship that isn’t in the context of marriage. Not even in the city of man. That would be encouragement to sin and you don’t guard against sin by encouraging people to slightly less serious sins - righteousness is the only target we should aim for.

But I still might (and currently do) think that there is a difference between a promiscuous homosexual, a homosexual couple in an open relationship who have adopted a child in that context, and a monogamous homosexual couple (especially if they have an adopted child in that relationship). That is, my assessment of a relationship that already exists can have gradations that aren’t there at the point of entertaining the action up front. It’s quite possible that there’ll be homosexual couples raising children. Will (and should) Christians see no moral difference between a monogamous homosexual couple in that situation and one with a very open relationship?

I think reasserters are going to face this issue and will be better off if the theological and ethical framework is developed. One of the issues will be whether we should make distinctions of sinfulness in this matter, and what categories are right to do that if so. What’s here are my current thoughts on that secondary matter (the primary matter - that homosexual relationships are always sin is settled) and they may change for a bunch of reasons.

So for your example - no ‘the Church’ shouldn’t encourage homosexuals into monogamous relationships if they can’t be celibate. They should encourage homosexuals to celibacy - if the Bible is right, celibacy is the only option that is genuinely good for them in this world and the next.

But I still might see that promiscuity is worse than monogamy for homosexuals - both in this world and the next - and so be opposed to things that encourage homosexuals to be promiscuous in their sexual activity. I’ll be opposed to what normalises active homosexual activity, and what promotes promiscuity.

February 28, 3:28 pm | [comment link]
25. alaninlondon wrote:

Thank you Mark.  I still think there are inherent tensions that make your reasoning in your last post (#24) invlaid.  You clearly do see there is some sort of ‘hierarchy of sinfulness’ - otherwise why distinguish between behavious in the way that you do?  Posts #9 #10 & #11 are far more clear in their positions.  Read your own (last) post carefully - you say one thing, then another.  Further, you write, ‘But I still might see that promiscuity is worse than monogamy for homosexuals - both in this world and the next….’  What is it in a Christian context that makes homosexual promiscuity worse than monogamy and why? In other words, is there anything even possibly redeeming in a committed relationship?  I think you have to say ‘yes’ by the fact you see one as worse than the other.

February 28, 4:05 pm | [comment link]
26. Mark Baddeley wrote:

Hi alaninlondon,

Thank you for your response. You could be right about the view I’ve espoused - and that may be one of the reasons why it may change.

I do think there are hierarchies of sin - not just on this issue, but generally. I don’t think that all sins are equally bad, or all sinners. But I do think that all are bad.

I agree that #9-11 are clearer in their positions. That’s a virtue of going more (or seeming to go more in case that’s not true of any of them) down the ‘any sin is as bad as any other sin’ route. But I think the cost of that clarity is too high. I meet Christians who see that anything that is done that is not out of love for God is sin, and see no difference between one sin and another. When I’ve put it to them whether that means there is no moral difference between an unbeliever helping an old lady cross the street and pushing her under the next bus, some of them have maintained their clarity and said ‘no’ - in God’s eyes those two acts are equally sinful. I find it hard to square that kind of assessment with the Bible’s teaching as a whole, although I understand why passages such as Mat 5:21-22 draw those people. So I accept a degree of lack of clarity as a necessary cost of being able to make some distinctions that I think are morally necessary.

The fact that I see some relationships as worse than others does not mean that I think others have ‘redeeming’ qualities. The ‘redeeming’ there is fairly loaded from my point of view.

I am faced with three thieves:

A. Steals only from those who can afford it, and only a fraction of what they could afford (even when he could steal more). It’s entirely white collar crime, and he steals fundamentally to give it away as he believes that all wealth comes at the cost of someone else (he mistakenly believes that wealth can’t be created), and only keeps as much as he needs to live on - the rest goes to the poor.

B. Steals to live and try and become wealthy. He doesn’t care whether his victims can afford it or whether he destroys them financially.  He never uses violence.

C. Steals for the pleasure, even though he has no need for the results of his work. He goes out of his way to find people who will be financially destroyed by his theft and enjoys the misery he creates. He never uses violence either.

I would rate the three kinds of thefts, and the three kinds of thieves in ascending order of seriousness: A least, C most. But that doesn’t mean I find thief A has redemptive qualities, or his thefts. Nor would I support him in his thefts if he thought he couldn’t handle the requirement to not steal at all as a better option than C. But, I would want the courts to distinguish between the three, and I would if I encountered them. All three cause harm - to themselves and others - but not equal harm.

And I’d draw the analogy to this issue. I’m not saying that active homosexuality is the same as or as serious as theft. Just that the example there should illuminate why I think I can make distinctions, without those distinctions saying ‘this relationship has redemptive qualities that the Church can work with’.

February 28, 5:17 pm | [comment link]
27. Larry Morse wrote:

Please help me with a set a references. Several months ago, this blog reprinted two pieces written by a homosexual In San Francisco or Los Angeles re: continued promiscuity in a “committed” relationship. They had been printed in the NY Times (I think)  I made hard copies and I have lost them both and the source as well. Does anyone remember the pieces I am referring to? Can you give me the source(s)?
(Where did I put my glasses? I was sure they were over there on the counter? And the car keys? What did I…..?)

February 28, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
28. MichaelA wrote:

This interview is certainly ample demonstration of the depths to which many CofE clergy have sunk. And this is the church that would have us believe it is entitled to some sort of leadership role in the Anglican Communion!

Leadership is given to those who are respected, and respect has to be earned. With clergy like Giles Fraser on display, the CofE will continue to lose respect both in England and in the wider Communion.

February 28, 6:48 pm | [comment link]
29. libraryjim wrote:

The Church has always spoken against sexual sins even and especially in the context of societies where the opposite of the Church view is held, Ancient Rome springs to mind with the orgies and debaucheries practiced in almost every town.  Christians were persecuted because they went against the status quo and called for a higher standard. Why should the Church act any differently in the 21st Century than it did in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.?  We should not give into the culture, we should call on the culture to repent.

In His Peace
Jim E. <><

February 28, 6:53 pm | [comment link]
30. deaconmark wrote:

To be clear, in #10, i was expressing only my understanding of the historical position of the church.  I was not expessing my personal opinion.  I believe that the belief of the church had to do with the number of souls that were endangered.  A sexual sin alone endangered only ones own soul.  With another person of any gender, one risked not only ones self but the salvation of the other as well.  In this view, heterosexual fornication could, in fact, be more dangerous because of the risk of bringing another soul into the world.  This is not a view to which i am willing to put very much weight to.

February 28, 7:11 pm | [comment link]
31. alaninlondon wrote:

Thanks Mark for your last posting (#26).  It is late in the UK and I must be off to bed.  I have found our discussion useful and helpful. I will leave you with one last thought.  What of the man who steals to eat because he is starving?  Is there anything that can be redeemed there?  On analogy, he is the man who is for ever denied the warmth of human love and affection and ‘steals’ it against all the hardness of the teaching of the Church - so that he might live…. My best wishes to you.

February 28, 8:06 pm | [comment link]
32. Teatime2 wrote:

It’s an interesting conundrum. Personally, I don’t think that society (read government) should be licensing/legalizing relationships between consenting adults at all or granting them special consideration or privileges. Form whatever sort of households you wish and be prepared to take full responsibility for the decisions you make. The government/legal system won’t reward, punish, or referee.

And that’s important from the religious perspective. It allows them to operate solely from their beliefs since the unions wouldn’t have any social/legal standing. Marriage would be seen not as a “civil right” but as a religious rite ONLY. That’s important, too.

Let’s face it. The modern view of marriage, as it is practiced, doesn’t have a whole lot of Scriptural backup. In the OT, many of the most notable figures weren’t monogamous. In the NT, St. Paul recommends celibacy but concedes that it’s better to marry than to burn with passion. What we really have comprising the “norm” of Christian marriage is a smattering of Scripture, a progression of Church teaching, and a whole lot of secular, social influences.

It seems to me that the best thing for Christians to do is to revisit their own teachings and practices in regard to marriage, separating the social/legal aspect from the sacramental aspect. In other words, clergy should not also be representing the state when they officiate; it should only have religious significance. For legal standing, the couples need to go to city hall.

Secondly, the churches should be far more discerning about when marriage is appropriate.  More care should be taken to ensure that the couple is spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically fit for marriage. This means more counseling, more preparation, more time involved.

As it stands now, couples spend far more time on the costumes and reception particulars than they do preparing spiritually. It’s ridiculous, and the church is a party to it. The party itself should be secondary.

And it’s for this reason that I don’t blame the homosexuals one bit for wanting to be part of it. Why not? The church aspect is more often regarded as a “pretty” place to hold a ceremony by a whole lot of bimbos and mimbos who call themselves “Christian” but really have little clue about the sacrament they are actually conferring. Some long-standing homosexual couples may indeed have more of a bond and commitment to each other than many of the heterosexual couples who treat marriage as a societal expectation and reason for a great party/gifts. If it doesn’t work out, oh well. There’s always divorce or the RC version, in which they can decide after the fact that the couple never should have been married in the first place.

Sorry, but we Christians have some blame in all of this.

February 28, 9:16 pm | [comment link]
33. Jill Woodliff wrote:

I wish Ruth had inquired about permanent, faithful, stable, loving polyamorous relationships.  Does Giles support this?  If not, on what basis does he make a distinction from permanent, faithful, stable, loving homosexual relationships of two persons only?

February 28, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
34. driver8 wrote:

#27 I think you’re thinking of the reports of the research done by the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality.

In a study of 566 Bay area gay male couples, 47% reported open relationships and another 8% differed about whether they had an open relationship or not. (See the reports in the SF Chronicle here and in the New York Times here).

The full research paper is also available here.

Other studies by the same team have investigated this area. In a study of 191 gay male couples, 51% reported “open relationships”. See here for the full paper.

Interviews with 39 Bay Area gay male couples by the team, showed 64% of the couples had “agreements” that permitted to varying degrees “outside partners”. See here.

February 28, 10:29 pm | [comment link]
35. Old Guy wrote:

I will be glad when this issue is put to rest. 

Seems like the ABC and Canon Giles circle the wagons to defend the (moral?) authority and independence of the CoE, but agree with the basic morality of Parliament’s policy.  Maybe if I were holding a talking stick it would make more sense.

February 28, 10:36 pm | [comment link]
36. MichaelA wrote:

Teatime2 at #32 wrote:

Let’s face it. The modern view of marriage, as it is practiced, doesn’t have a whole lot of Scriptural backup. In the OT, many of the most notable figures weren’t monogamous.

I don’t follow your point. Many of the most notable figures in the OT practiced murder, rape, mutilation or incest. The Old Testament doesn’t approve those practices, although it faithfully records that they happened. What has that got to do with what we believe today?

To put it another way, are you saying that because someone in the Old Testament had multiple wives, that therefore Christ and his Apostles endorsed polygamy? And are you seriously suggesting that the scriptures don’t endorse monogamy?

February 28, 10:57 pm | [comment link]
37. Teatime2 wrote:

#36—Point me to the NT passages where Christ and His Apostles heartily endorsed anything at all regarding our notion of marriage. Speaking of adultery and lust as sins aren’t endorsements of marriage. Celibacy IS recommended in the NT, though. So, why do only a tiny minority of Christians even consider celibacy? Why are Christians pretty much pushed to marry? The answers to those questions make my point.

The modern Christian beliefs about marriage are comprised of a lot of secular traditions and notions. Christianity and government colluded in an attempt to promote social welfare and stability. Rather than keeping the rite as a sacred covenant that had nothing to do with secular laws, it became a legal tool. And a social tool. This is precisely why we’re having these issues raging today and it won’t end with gay marriage.

In fact, I don’t think it will end at all until religious marriage becomes separate and distinct from legal marriage.

March 1, 12:38 am | [comment link]
38. driver8 wrote:

Just to follow up - I was interested to try to compare (in a quick and unscientific manner) comparable data for straight couples. I couldn’t find any evidence on % of heterosexual couples in “open relationships”. If anyone can point me towards some, I’d be grateful.

There is however, lots of research on marital infidelity and evidence that somewhere between about 1.5 - 4% of married men (and about half that, of women) report extra marital partners over the previous 12 months. Over a lifetime, somewhere between 15 - 25% of men report ever having an extra marital partner (and again around half that for women). The first figure is at least suggestive that the proportion of “open relationships” among heterosexual married couples is very significantly lower than that reported in the research on gay male couples referred to in post #34.

March 1, 12:42 am | [comment link]
39. MichaelA wrote:

Teatime 2 wrote:

“#36—Point me to the NT passages where Christ and His Apostles heartily endorsed anything at all regarding our notion of marriage. Speaking of adultery and lust as sins aren’t endorsements of marriage. Celibacy IS recommended in the NT, though. So, why do only a tiny minority of Christians even consider celibacy? Why are Christians pretty much pushed to marry? The answers to those questions make my point.”

I am happy to take up the challenge. Christ and his apostles do “heartily endorse” marriage.

1. Although not the main reason (see 2. below), speaking of adultery as a sin IS an endorsement of marriage. It has no point otherwise. Hence the ‘negative’ admonitions are a positive endorsement of marriage as a holy state. For example:

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” [Matt 5:31-32]

“Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: ‘It is not lawful for you to have her’.” [Matt 14:3-4]

2. On the positive side, Jesus leaves no room for doubt that marriage is the common state for Christians, but that those to whom a special gifting is given by God may remain celibate:

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” [Matt 19:3-12]

Note two things in particular from the above passage:

Firstly, at verse 5, Jesus specifically endorses Genesis 2 which tells us that marriage is the usual or ‘normative’ state for mankind:

“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” …  But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
  “This is now bone of my bones
  and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
  for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” [Genesis 2: 18, 20-24]

Secondly, Jesus cites celibacy as an exception to the general rule laid down for mankind in Genesis 2. It is only given to those who can accept it or are forced to it by circumstances.

3. Although himself one of the few gifted with celibacy, the apostle Paul writes essentially the same thing:

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. …  Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. [1 Corinthians 7:1-3, 8-9]

Paul makes the same point that Christ did: Celibacy is a gift given by God entirely as he chooses. If you haven’t got it, marry!

4. Paul tells us that the apostles Peter and James the Just were married, and he implies that every Apostle except himself was married:

“This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?” [1 Cor 9:4-6]

5. Paul gives detailed instruction about relations within marriage: Ephesians 5:21-28.

6. Marriage is particularly normative if one is called to the ordained ministry: The apostles command that a bishop must be “above reproach, faithful to his wife” (1 Tim 3:2), that “A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well” (1 Tim 3:12), and that “An elder [Gr. presbyteros, i.e. a priest] must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” [Titus 1:6]

7. Finally, note that the picture of the church’s relationship to Christ is that of a bride prepared for her husband [Revelation 21:9]

March 1, 4:04 am | [comment link]
40. MichaelA wrote:

Teatime2 also wrote:

In fact, I don’t think it will end at all until religious marriage becomes separate and distinct from legal marriage.

When Jesus at Matt 9:5 endorses Genesis 2 as the basis of marriage, he takes us back to a time before there was any church, even before there was an Old Testament “church”. This is before the Mosaic covenant, even before the Noachic covenant.

Thus marriage ordained by God existed before the church, and so there is no “religious marriage” as such. In the church’s eyes, a couple who get married in a civil registry with no religious input whatsoever are just as married as a couple that gets married in church. They don’t need to get married again, and the church commands them not to divorce.

March 1, 4:12 am | [comment link]
41. NoVA Scout wrote:

Thanks to most of the previous commenters for an interesting, edifying, educational exchange of views, conducted in a civil and respectful tone.  I have read through this once under a bit of time pressure, and intend to go back to read it again more carefully. This is a wonderful medium when populated by sincere adults interested in the meaningful exchange of ideas.

March 1, 8:08 am | [comment link]
42. Larry Morse wrote:

\#34: Thanks for the help. This is exactly what I was looking for.
Larry

March 1, 9:15 am | [comment link]
43. Mark Baddeley wrote:

You’re welcome for the discussion alaninlondon (#31) and thanks for the good wishes, I’ve appreciated the conversation as well. I ‘hear’ your final thought for me:

What of the man who steals to eat because he is starving?  Is there anything that can be redeemed there?  On analogy, he is the man who is for ever denied the warmth of human love and affection and ‘steals’ it against all the hardness of the teaching of the Church - so that he might live….

I get your point, for what it’s worth, here are my musings about it:

There was a quite fascinating discussion on this issue on Stand Firm a few months ago - it seems there is some reason to think that there is an important strand of Christian ethical thinking that says that in the case of starvation taking what you need to live is not theft (as long as it isn’t taking what someone else needs to live) - property has been given by God for the purpose of life, so the right to personal possession is trumped by the demands of life. I find that persuasive on first glance (and haven’t had the chance to follow it further) - it seems to fit with how Jesus treated the Sabbath and healing.

If that’s the case (and not all reasserters agree with that strand of teaching - some would still say it’s theft and you should starve and trust God rather than sin and those reasserters would clearly not accept your point: better to die doing what is right than buy one’s life at the cost of doing evil) then that’s a point at where the analogy breaks down. Sex is not given for life in the same way that food and the like are. Active sexual expression is not like food or drink or shelter. It’s not even like love as such. Sex is not the esse of life, or even love, it is not even the bene esse. It’s ‘just’ a good gift.

Part of why reasserters hold that the Bible rejects the validity of homosexual sex is that it is offering a counterfeit - something that looks like love but isn’t in the full biblical sense, and which makes it harder to give and receive such love because it wrongly eroticises relationships that should not have a sexual dimension.

In other words, the Bible’s teaching is indeed often hard. And it’s hardness hits some of us in different areas than others. But it’s never hardness for hardness sake. It is hard as an expression of God’s love and his grasp of what is genuinely good for us. Often in life the easier and wider road leads to destruction, and the narrow and harder road is the only safe way to life. Ultimately it comes down to faith - whether we’re prepared to take on trust that what looks like a sentence of living death is actually a (hard) road to life or whether we back how we see it and chose the path that looks to us like a life lived to its full. And that’s a decision that everyone must make, and accept the consequences of accordingly.

March 1, 10:35 am | [comment link]
44. Teatime2 wrote:

MichaelA,
What I see in the Scripture passages are Jesus’ answers to questions put to Him (usually by the religious authorities who are attempting to prove He’s unorthodox), not independent teachings with the import and emphasis as, say, the Sermon on the Mount. I think that this is a very important distinction. He is not saying, “You should marry.” What he does say is “IF you marry, this is what is what the law teaches.” There’s a difference.

Furthermore, Jesus obviously took issue with the law that required stoning for those caught in adultery. He spent time with the “unclean,” notorious women, tax collectors and other “pariahs.” He didn’t model the letter of Jewish law and He frequently chided the Pharisees for making the law too heavy for the people to bear. He knew, of course, that some of the Jewish leadership colluded with the Roman authority and that they were trying to trap Him to hand Him over to that authority if He became problematic for them. They didn’t understand why He came into the world.

Realize that the RCC takes the same Scripture and uses it to mandate priestly celibacy and no remarriage after divorce. The Orthodox Church takes the same Scripture and permits marriage before ordination, no marriage for bishops, and up to three remarriages after divorces. English Protestantism didn’t regard marriage as a sacramental rite of the church until the 18th Century. How is that possible?

It’s possible because various Church doctrines on the subject were filtered through the lenses of history, culture, exegesis, etc. over time. It’s possible because there is no Sermon on the Mount with regard to intimate relationships. In the Middle Ages, nobles and royalty received Church permission to send a tiresome or barren wife to a nunnery and take another wife. This is what happens when politics, in particular, and the Church are in bed with each other.

So, we’ve been moving into our present situation for a very, very long time. We no longer live in an age where the political ruler is a god, of tribes as nations serving their God, or monarchs governing by Divine Right. And it’s starting to get messy.

This is why I posit that there needs to be a clear distinction between the secular licensing of relationships for a social purpose and the religious sacramental rite of marriage. IMO, ideally, there would be no state licensing of relationships in a truly free society. It’s inherently discriminatory in a “New World” that screams for supreme equality. Religion needs to divorce itself of assisting in this secular function or it will be increasingly compromised.

IMO, this would be a great opportunity for the Church to present and teach something valuable to the world—that relationships are holy, that they should only be entered into with the utmost of care and fidelity, that there is nothing wrong with NOT marrying. It’s counter-cultural; it would take guts. It would mean that a church wedding would become much more than a 45-minute ceremony in a “pretty place.”

March 1, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
45. Teatime2 wrote:

#33 Jill,
That’s precisely what’s next. And, no, the GLBT activists don’t seem to want to go there, lol. They don’t want to have to share their platform; plus, there have actually been real instances of American legal and political authorities rounding up and locking up bigamists/polygamists and taking away their children. (I’m not speaking of Warren Jeffs—that nutjob deserves to be locked up and is a different category.) GLBTs can’t claim similar oppression on such a systematic scale.

March 1, 9:57 pm | [comment link]
46. Teatime2 wrote:

MichaelA,
Sorry, was called away and forgot a response. You said:

Thus marriage ordained by God existed before the church, and so there is no “religious marriage” as such. In the church’s eyes, a couple who get married in a civil registry with no religious input whatsoever are just as married as a couple that gets married in church. They don’t need to get married again, and the church commands them not to divorce.

This isn’t true in the RCC. I’m not sure about other Christian churches. Catholics who are only married in a civil ceremony are considered to be living in sin (not married in the eyes of the Church) and must have their union solemnized in the Church.

March 1, 11:30 pm | [comment link]
47. MichaelA wrote:

Teatime2 wrote:

What I see in the Scripture passages are Jesus’ answers to questions put to Him (usually by the religious authorities who are attempting to prove He’s unorthodox), not independent teachings with the import and emphasis as, say, the Sermon on the Mount. I think that this is a very important distinction. He is not saying, “You should marry.” What he does say is “IF you marry, this is what is what the law teaches.” There’s a difference.

That’s fine, but I can’t see that Jesus anywhere indicates that his teaching in response to a question is of different authority to his other teaching.

When Jesus cites Genesis 2, he endorses that passage as relevant to the question he has been asked. Genesis 2 teaches that marriage is the natural state of man. Hence, Jesus also adopts that position.

“Furthermore, Jesus obviously took issue with the law that required stoning for those caught in adultery.”

This would only be relevant if Jesus thereby indicated that his view of marriage was lower than what I have indicated. He doesn’t.

“Realize that the RCC takes the same Scripture and uses it to mandate priestly celibacy and no remarriage after divorce. The Orthodox Church takes the same Scripture and permits marriage before ordination, no marriage for bishops, and up to three remarriages after divorces. English Protestantism didn’t regard marriage as a sacramental rite of the church until the 18th Century. How is that possible?”

In this you are taking issue with the authority of scripture for every purpose, not just concerning marriage. I agree with you that some of these doctrines that ignore the plain words of scripture have arisen “because various Church doctrines on the subject were filtered through the lenses of history, culture, exegesis, etc. over time”. The RCC concept of mandatory priestly celibacy is a classic example. But in the end, we have to follow the clear teachings of Christ and his Apostles as our highest authority.

This is why I posit that there needs to be a clear distinction between the secular licensing of relationships for a social purpose and the religious sacramental rite of marriage.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. Anglicanism teaches that scripture is not a sacrament in the same sense as the Holy Communion and Baptism, but it still calls its marriage service “Holy Matrimony”.

This isn’t true in the RCC. I’m not sure about other Christian churches. Catholics who are only married in a civil ceremony are considered to be living in sin (not married in the eyes of the Church) and must have their union solemnized in the Church.

That’s fair enough - I write from an Anglican perspective.

March 2, 4:58 am | [comment link]
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