Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gay Marriage: a theological perspective

His Grace has been told time and again - in conversation threads and via testy emails - that 'gay marriage' is of Christian provenance. He has been told by a number of Conservatives - not least the Prime Minister - that such unions constitute a wholly Conservative pursuit and so a laudable aim. Lest His Grace be accused of bigotry; of bringing the Faith into disrepute; of smearing and recontaminating the Conservative brand; and of being the cruel persecutor of a gentle minority, His Grace has asked a Christian believer to expound his theological thoughts on the matter. This is guest post by Andrew Grey:

“There can be no such thing as gay marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others”. Lord Tebbit’s statement encapsulates what is essentially the bottom line for many of those who are outraged by the proposals of Lynne Featherstone MP to legalise gay marriage.

There are of course many complex political issues which relate to this, on both sides of the debate. This post, however, will not attempt to argue within such a frame of reference; instead, the focus will be a theological one. Can a Christian ever endorse gay marriage?

Many Scriptural passages are cited to support the idea that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman, with a view to procreation. The Yahwist’s creation story famously states: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). This is taken to be the correct model for marriage – any distortion of this model, including homosexual marriage, is against the divine intention. This idea cannot be simply dismissed as ancient nonsense because it is, as is also well-known, cited by Christ, according to Mark and Matthew, to condemn divorce.

Surely this leaves the matter indisputable? For Christ, marriage is between one man and one woman. It is the ideal model and anything different is wrong. However, this perspective neglects the rest of this passage. For Jesus draws attention to the notable exception of eunuchs (eunouchoi). He acknowledges that not every man will marry and have sex with a woman: some people are eunuchoi ‘from birth’, some have been castrated and some actively choose to remain celibate for the sake of their faith.

Many have argued that the eunuchs who have been so from birth may have referred to homosexual men. Whether or not there is a case for this, this is the not the line of argument I wish to pursue here. Rather, the point we can take from this is more general: yes, Jesus cited Gen 2:24 as a model for marriage – but he clearly acknowledges that this doesn’t apply for everyone. Of course, it does not automatically follow that gay marriages must be accepted – what is clear is that this particular text cannot simply be cited as a clear-cut case for heterosexual marriage being the only acceptable lifestyle: the matter is more complex than this as Christ, in His wisdom, identified.

It is also sometimes argued that homosexuals cannot ‘marry’ because the model of one man and one woman represents the union between Christ and his church, usually based on the tradition following from Augustine based on Ephesians 5:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. (Eph 5:31-32)

Paul clearly envisaged the male-female union as symbolic of the union between Christ and the church. Without doubt Paul would not have considered homosexual marriages as symbolic of such a union. Indeed, Paul makes quite explicit why it is that he identifies specifically the union of man and woman as symbolic of such a union:

For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church…Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. (Eph 5:23-24)

The problem with this model is that it not only reduces women to a status which they, thankfully, in Western society, no longer hold, but it also is completely incorrect. Paul’s model for marriage is, unsurprisingly, not ideal. It is true that he acknowledges the need for the husband to love his wife, but then adds “in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word” (Eph 5:26). For Paul, the husband represents Christ in a marriage because the woman ought to obey him and submit to him, whilst his purpose is to sanctify her.

With all due respect to the great Apostle, his understanding of both women and relationships was, at best, incredibly flawed. Women are not subordinate to men; both women and men are created in the image of God and to all people, women and men, is extended the invitation of redemption through Christ. It goes without saying that a marriage could not work with one partner being entirely submissive and obedient to the other. And far from men being in a position of superiority in which they are able to sanctify their wives, it is often women who need to remind their husbands of what is righteous and just and ultimately good.

Paul’s model for marriage, on which he bases the parallel with the union of Christ and his church, is therefore not applied by Christians today, and it cannot be used to assert that only heterosexual marriage works because only heterosexual marriage symbolizes the union of Christ and his church: marriage does not, indeed cannot, work in the way Paul imagines.

There are, of course, arguments against gay marriage which are not based on Scripture, such as the assertion that heterosexual marriage is undermined by gay marriage. By allowing two women or two men to marry, it is suggested that society is somehow undermining the union of man and woman. But it is difficult to see how this is the case. Will less heterosexual couples marry now, in outrage at homosexual marriage? Is the union of a woman and a man of less significance simply because two men or two women can also form such a union? Such ideas are implausible, and, more to the point, if they really were the case, homosexual marriage would not be needed to undermine heterosexual marriage: heterosexuals would be doing a good enough job of undermining it themselves.

It is also sometimes objected that, if we are to allow gay people to marry, then there is nothing to stop us allowing two relatives or an adult and a child marrying. We shall be obliged to open the doors to all kinds of incest and paedophilia – such is the consequence of the sort of wishy-washy, liberal mindset which allows for gay marriage. But this simply isn’t true. Society’s condemnations of incest are rarely based on Scripture; condemnation of paedophilia even less so. We do not base our opposition to incest on Old Testament prescriptions and prohibitions largely because, as one minister puts it, “A close reading of scripture reveals a sexual ethic we do not and would not want wholly to embrace now: polygamy, concubinage, levirate marriage, and such horrifying rules as the requirement that a rapist pay the bride-price to the rape victim’s father and marry her without the right of divorce.

Society, of course, has very good reasons for refusing to allow incestuous and paedophilic relationships, reasons which do not apply to homosexual marriages. Experience and the insights of the natural and social sciences tell us that incest distorts familial relationships and damages them, and that paedophilia involves an unhealthy power dynamic and would require the consent of those who cannot truly consent. Absolute permissiveness does not necessarily follow simply from allowing homosexual marriage.

Even if none of the above objections are compelling, how do we know that homosexual marriage works? The short answer is that we do not. We cannot know for sure because it is only something that we have very recently begun to consider allowing. But neither do we know that it cannot work. The main evidence we have so far is the evidence from six years of civil partnerships in the UK, evidence which, for some, suggests that couples in such relationships are less likely to divorce than their heterosexual counterparts.

This is not an argument that gay marriage is superior to heterosexual marriage. Neither is it an attempt to argue against heterosexual marriage in any way. His Grace has rightly noted, drawing on Aristotle, that heterosexual marriage (including procreation) “is essential for the functioning of society”. I quite agree. We need men and women to marry and have children for the continuation of human society. But allowing people who are already homosexual, who will never experience attractions to members of the opposite sex and will therefore never enter heterosexual marriage and have children, will not undermine or threaten this.

A defence of gay marriage usually arises, if anything, from a great respect for the institution of marriage as a union of mutual love between two people. For the Christian, marriage is of course about even more than this – it is about two people, through their union, participating in the life of God. There is something altogether beautiful about two people committing themselves to one another, making sacrifices for one another, and indeed in physically expressing their love via intimacy with one another. This is the ultimate purpose of marriage and sex: to strengthen a bond between two people, and, for Christians, to ultimately reveal a new understanding of God through their union. This understanding is effected via a change in married people – as Rowan Williams points out, they are caused to re-perceive themselves as loved by another. Procreation is a wonderful product of heterosexual marriage and, needless to say, it is necessary that procreation occurs in society: but it is not the ultimate aim of marriage (as couples who cannot or have chosen not to have children demonstrate). The union of two people is about far more than breeding.

These wonderful truths about marriage are to be celebrated and encouraged: but they are not excluded from or eradicated by the union of two people of the same gender. On the contrary: allowing more couples to celebrate their love and to enter a commitment which will discipline them, enhance their understanding of God and ultimately transform them can only be a good thing.

212 Comments:

Blogger Gerv said...

This post is underlied by some very odd ideas about scriptural authority. First, he makes points from a careful reading of Matthew 19, and then he dismisses Ephesians 5 as "incredibly flawed". How does the author understand the authority of the Bible? Are the "Jesus" bits authoritative and the rest dispensable?

His understanding of the (for want of a better word) conservative understanding of Ephesians 5 is a caricature, and fails to engage with the arguments people are actually making from that passage - such as the distinction between ontological status and marital role. When engaging with the arguments of others, one ends up being more persuasive if you argue against what people do think, not what you think they ought to think.

In addition, the appeals to "society" as the arbiter of propriety beg the question. If you take God out of the picture, all moral viewpoints are just opinion, and what is morally "right" changes based on the collected opinion of 51% of the population. Which can change over time.

If "a defence of gay marriage usually arises, if anything, from a great respect for the institution of marriage as a union of mutual love between two people", then why should marriage not be open to two people closely related by blood? Can they not mutually love each other as well as two men, or a man and a woman? Hand waving about "society's good reasons" should surely not be allowed to come between them? How can you be so cruel and discriminatory?

16 October 2011 at 09:43  
Blogger Derek T Northcote said...

Gay marriage will be a civil institution.

Nothing to do with churches.

So butt out.

16 October 2011 at 09:52  
Blogger Flossie said...

Now we know that David Cameron takes instruction from Peter Tatchell.

From Anglican Mainstream:

'Who first said this recently?

“Conservatives rightly encourage and approve loving, stable relationships because enduring care and commitment are good for individuals, families and for the well-being of society as a whole. If marriage is a Conservative value, then same-sex marriage is consistent with this value. Far from undermining marriage, gay marriage strengthens it. Conservatives believe in marriage. They should therefore support same-sex marriage precisely because they are Conservatives.”

David Cameron, you say?

Wrong!

Peter Tatchell said it first.

Read Gay Marriage is a Conservative Value by Peter Tatchell

http://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/releases/how-the-tories-were-won-to-marriage-equality.pdf

16 October 2011 at 09:59  
Blogger MrTinkles said...

The author may claim this is a theological argument but once again it is actually a cultural one.
Where he does attempt some "theology", it is very poor...
As the first comment points out, he plays fast and loose with Ephesians 5.
"Paul’s model for marriage, on which he bases the parallel with the union of Christ and his church, is therefore not applied by Christians today"
As an aside, I might just ask - Who made you an expert into what is or is not applied by "Christians today"? Many that I know would say they do indeed try, however imperfectly, to live by this. Oh, and before we have the "male chauvinism" row, any man who thinks (as many unfortunately have) that Paul's words give a man the right to be a dictator in his own home need to read on (it's noticeable the author also ignored this bit!)...
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her"
That is the challenge of marriage...and one that I (as a happily married man of more than 30 years) have struggled - and often - failed to live up to. On top of that, this whole passage is filled with the idea of submitting to one another...never just about wives to husband...there can be few better examples of the danger of selective quoting...
"For Paul, the husband represents Christ in a marriage because the woman ought to obey him and submit to him"
What utter nonsense...
(And where does Paul use the word "obey"?)
Paul's idea of marriage is that husbands should serve and sacrifice themselves for their wives - as Christ did for the church - rather than order them around. One thing that cannot be said of Christ is that He was (or is) someone who orders us around (If that is how you perceive your relationship with Him, you have my sympathy).
But marriage sermon aside...my problem with this argument is that it boils down to the same old thing that is wheeled out by just about anyone who wishes to ignore a bit of scripture that is inconvenient...
I want to do "this"...therefore it cannot be that God wouldn't let me do "this" - so either the bible is wrong, outdated or poorly interpreted...
As for the "incest and paedophilia" argumant (not one I would have thought was helpful given the emotive nature of our feeling on them) there are many who would say that homosexual union does indeed cause damage - to the couple and to society as a whole. The author will disagree of course; but that doesn't make it true or false, it's just opinion.
No amount of wishing or selective biblical quotes will get round this...you cannot support "gay marriage" from the bible...all you can do, as I guess will be the case, is ignore the bits you don't like...

16 October 2011 at 10:53  
Blogger Justin Brett said...

Gerv said:
This post is underlied by some very odd ideas about scriptural authority. First, he makes points from a careful reading of Matthew 19, and then he dismisses Ephesians 5 as "incredibly flawed". How does the author understand the authority of the Bible? Are the "Jesus" bits authoritative and the rest dispensable?

I suspect that the answer is that he applies reason in his understanding of Biblical authority. If you are going to insist on a 'Biblical' stance on sexual ethics then you really can't pick and choose - if your wife doesn't get pregnant then clearly she should provide you with a concubine, polygamy is entirely acceptable, and a widow should automatically be married to her dead husband's nearest male relative. The fact that no supporter of 'traditional' Christianity would advocate these things should suggest something about how the Bible is interpreted and some parts given primacy over others even by those who insist that the whole collection of songs, history, polemic, wise sayings, visions and love poetry should be regarded as immutable divine ordinance.

Gerv also said:
If "a defence of gay marriage usually arises, if anything, from a great respect for the institution of marriage as a union of mutual love between two people", then why should marriage not be open to two people closely related by blood? Can they not mutually love each other as well as two men, or a man and a woman? Hand waving about "society's good reasons" should surely not be allowed to come between them? How can you be so cruel and discriminatory?

Oh dear. Not this again. The clue is actually in your own description - "a union of mutual love" - it's a question of mutuality, which demands mutual consent. Society frowns upon parent/child incest because it is an abuse of power in a relationship where genuine and mutual consent is unlikely. Where you might have more of a point in logical terms is sibling incest, where it is much easier to argue in favour of genuine consent. There, however, the health of potential offspring comes to the fore. Incestual and homosexual relationships are not the same thing, and you give no credibility to your argument by insisting that they are.

16 October 2011 at 10:54  
Blogger Peter Bolton said...

@Derek T Northcote:

"Nothing to do with churches.
So butt out."

Fine, so long as the civil authorities do not compel the churches to conduct gay marriage ceremonies.

16 October 2011 at 11:07  
Blogger Peter Bolton said...

Derek T Northcote would like the churches to "Butt out" of this debate. This seems to me to be a pity. Mr Northcote should understand that, the fact that the churches ARE engaging in this debate is a measure of just how far things have mved in the past three or four decades.

But, back to the article itself. Andrew Grey, it seems to me, is weakest where conservative Christians are strongest. To say that marriage is, first and foremost about mutual love and only then about the procreation and nurture of chldren is to completely redifine matrimony. (Indeed, in the Prayer Book, "mutual society" comes a poor third!

As I was reading Mr Grey's article, I couldn't help thinking that the more pressing question is, should Civil Partnerships be open to straight couples? It is probably a healthier institution.

16 October 2011 at 11:19  
Blogger graham wood said...

Mr Cameron’s superficial conference statements about “commitment” justifying homosexual marriage fails by omission in one very important area, namely the God given perspective on human relationships in marriage which is basic and clear. The only ‘commitment’ required by God lies in the bond of heterosexual marriage. Thus Jesus himself (Mark 10) lays down three fundamental governing principles:
Firstly, that marriage is an ordinance rooted in the creation of man and woman “God made them man and woman”. (no mention of the mythical Adam and Steve here!).

Secondly, the man/woman, or husband/wife union was, and is, to be so intimate that its resultant effect is to create a unique “one flesh” relationship which cannot by definition be replicated in any other.
Thirdly, because this relationship is mandated by God as exclusively male/female then of necessity no other is envisaged. “What God has joined together – let not man put asunder”. Clearly a homosexual relationship violates the statement that a man shall be joined to ‘his wife. As John Stott points out: “modern loving homosexual partnerships is incompatible with God’s created order. And since that order is heterosexual monogamy, was established by creation, not culture, its validity is both permanent and universal”.

16 October 2011 at 11:20  
Blogger len said...

There is a perfectly ordained Divine order of things and God quite clearly spells this out.

God`s creation however (through the disobedience of men)has passed into the hands of the' god' of this World who has assumed authority over this World.
Everything which God meant for good passes through the corrupt'filters' of the god of this World and becomes twisted and corrupted.
This corruption has passed through everything, through Politics, through religion, virtually through everything it comes into contact with. This process has been going on for so long now that man has now accepted it as 'natural'.

The only true assessment of our fallen condition can come from someone 'outside of this World', uncontaminated by the corruption which has engulfed us.By this ,of course ,I refer to Jesus Christ,who gave us a true assessment of our condition and was hated for it , by the secular and the religious World.

16 October 2011 at 11:25  
Blogger graham wood said...

"These wonderful truths about marriage are to be celebrated and encouraged: but they are not excluded from or eradicated by the union of two people of the same gender."

Andrew Grey is very confused.

The quotation smacks more of an argument of scholastic subtlety rather than a logical deduction of the words of Scripture.
At best the quote is ambiguous. At worst it implies that homosexual "marriage" may have parity with normal heterosexual marriage by virtue of the mutual love element expressed by the partners. In answer one must not posit "love" against law.
In the final analysis the question is whether homosexual "marriage is lawful in the eyes of God?
The answer to that must be 'no' if it negates the created order clearly laid down in Scripture as to what God has joined together - namely man and woman.
Incidentally, and by definition, the parallell between human marriage (man and woman is always assumed) and the relationship between Christ and His church cannot be drawn for a homosexual "marriage" if that latter union is regarded as unlawful and therefore sinful by God.

16 October 2011 at 11:48  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I have to say I'm quite impressed with the article, and also with Justin Brett's summary of related things. But then I would be of course.

16 October 2011 at 12:01  
Blogger graham wood said...

Blogger Derek T Northcote said...

"Gay marriage will be a civil institution. Nothing to do with churches. So butt out."

But Derek, the point is precisely because the homosexual community wish to IMPOSE "gay" marriage upon the churches that Christians are forced to respond.
You may not know but the government is, with the churches, involved in discussion with LGBT proposals for homosexual partnerships to be held on church premises.
This means that the issue can no longer be confined to being a purely secular or civil matter.

One is compelled to ask why should aspiring homosexual (secular) marriage partners seek validation in CHRISTIAN churches? Why do they not seek that validation in their own premises, with their own "clergy" and ceremonies etc as with other quasi religious sects and movements.

16 October 2011 at 12:04  
Blogger summer_rainbow said...

For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church…Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. (Eph 5:23-24)

The problem with this model is that it not only reduces women to a status which they, thankfully, in Western society, no longer hold, but it also is completely incorrect

no it isn't..and it doesn't 'reduce' those of us who are women
a bad interpretation of the word 'head' is and does though
see
http://www.godswordtowomen.org/head.htm

16 October 2011 at 12:13  
Blogger summer_rainbow said...

sorry, quote html doesn't seem to work on here..first 2 paras are from opening post

16 October 2011 at 12:23  
Blogger A S Grey said...

Thank you to everyone who has commented so far. I will definitely attempt to respond to some arguments but cannot, I trust you understand, offer detailed responses to every objection which will be raised.

Gerv:
- My understanding of Scriptural authority is based on the fact that Scripture is itself a complex collection. I do not believe that every word was breathed from the mouth of God, but that it contains the results of many of those who attempt to understand God and their own situations. This means that every part of Torah, Prophets, Writings, Gospels, Epistles - any part of Scripture - must be read with this in mind.

- My understanding of Ephesians 5 is actually an attempt to understand Paul's own thought. If you wish to direct me to or offer what the actual arguments of Ephesians 5 are, I would be happy to read them.

- I agree that society cannot be the only standard against which to judge what is morally correct - understanding ethical truth is undoubtedly a complex engagement with the mutual relationship between scripture, reason, tradition and experience. My reference to society was a response to a preempted potential objection that gay marriage can't work.

- I did in fact deal with the incest objection in the post.

MrTinkles,
I respect your experience of marriage and your interpretation. Your understanding of the metaphor of Christ and his church as related to love and sacrifice is a far more understandable and agreeable model - but such a model is not incompatible with gay marriage. The reason heterosexuality specifically worked for Paul was on the basis of his understandings of the status of women and men. I should note that this is not an attempt to single out Paul as an especially deliberate chauvinist; he was very much viewing gender roles as most people of his time and his culture did. With regards to submission, Paul does in fact use the term 'submit' only with regard to the woman, and then says that men should 'love', rather than 'submit to', their wives.

My aim is not to simply 'pick and choose' but to truly understand every sentence of the Bible - which includes understanding where ideas come from, why they are there and how they relate to the author's own thought-world and historical situation, before making a decision on their applicability, just as I am sure you do with regard to many verses, such as (for example) Ex 35:2 which demands the death penalty for those who work on the Sabbath.

16 October 2011 at 12:30  
Blogger TLemon said...

A good point well made, Andrew Grey.

16 October 2011 at 12:37  
Blogger len said...

AS Grey,
Did God really say?.

This argument has been used once before I believe?.

16 October 2011 at 12:46  
Blogger Bryan said...

Begging your pardon, I'll stand with the apostle Paul, and all that what he wrote entails. You may decide to toss out whatever Scripture offends your modern sensibilities, willy-nilly; I choose to take God at His Word and let my own sensibilities be adjusted thereto.

16 October 2011 at 12:52  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

MrTinkles hits the nail on the head with regards to the dubious theology of marriage advanced by this article.

"It goes without saying that a marriage could not work with one partner being entirely submissive and obedient to the other."

Bizarre - isn't this precisely the working model of the Church envisaged by Paul? Total slavery to Christ?

What makes his metaphor so rich, however, is of course the truth that the Church rarely does any such thing, and that mankind required salvation precisely because of this failure. And how was salvation achieved? Well, by the total submission of Christ to the Will of God, and ultimately to death. Christ's perfect submission and total obedience is the basis and the substance of salvation.

I'd say that Paul's metaphor is about as spot-on as it can be, and it meshes comfortably with his other teaching on marriage, which consistently approaches both sexes equally. 1 Corinthians 7: 1-16 provides the model for this - for every command exhorted to women, the same is exhorted to men. The rich complexity of Ephesians 5:22-23 I've covered above, and the same is true of Colossians 3:18-19. If you focus purely on the literal words employed in these passages, you'll unsurprisingly come up with a legalistic interpretation (and there is no small irony in treating Pauline material legalistically). If you focus on the meaning that logically progresses from the metaphors employed - you are presented with a theology of Christian submission. Wives should submit to their husbands, because Christians are called to a life of submission. Husbands too should behave as Christ - the model of perfect submission.

Personally, I'm inclined to understand this as not merely ideal, but essential to the functioning of the sacramental character of marriage: we become one flesh by submitting to one another, by placing the other totally above the self, and by so doing effacing the self.

So if we're going to apply this to the possibility of homosexual marriages, we need to do the same thing. The million-dollar question that needs to be answered, and isn't really asked by the article, because it understands marriage in terms of a social contract rather than a mystical and sacramental union, is whether two men or two women can be one flesh. Not whether they can successfully live together, or pull-off a joint mortgage. I don't suggest that the answer must automatically be "no they can't", but it does need an answer before Christians can be satisfied that there can be homosexual marriage.

16 October 2011 at 12:55  
Blogger graham wood said...

"My understanding of Scriptural authority is based on the fact that Scripture is itself a complex collection. I do not believe that every word was breathed from the mouth of God, but that it contains the results of many of those who attempt to understand God and their own situations."

Mr Grey. Thus your reply to Gerv.

If on your own admission you do not believe that Scripture comprises "every word breathed from the mouth of God", then clearly you will have trouble in defining Scripture as God's Word in the fullest sense, and thereby inerrant and infallible?
As regards God's words "breathed out" This is precisely the claim made by the Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 3:16).
The word "inspiration" there means literally "God breathed". Does this not satisfy the criteria we need for the final authority of Scripture?

16 October 2011 at 12:56  
Blogger Anoneumouse said...

I am just waiting for one of our elected representatives to stand up and state that we need a 40% quota for same sex marriages within the cabinet.

Buttplug Science.

16 October 2011 at 13:01  
Blogger Gerv said...

Mr Grey:

I think we will find it difficult to achieve common ground because we are arguing from very different bases. You believe Scripture is the word of man about God, and I believe it's the word of God given through men. We are clearly going to approach the text very differently. The difficulty you have is that you will find it difficult, adopting your perspective, to convince anyone who holds the other one.

Here is an article which briefly explains and defends the conservative position on Ephesians 5:
http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=230

I know you attempted to deal with the incest objection in your post, but my comment is that you have not done so successfully. You distinguished between homosexual marriage and incestual marriage (let us use sibling-sibling to keep it disentangled by issues of paedophilia) by appeal to societal condemnation. I suggest that this is, by your own logic, inadequate in the face of your definition of the institution of marriage as "a union of mutual love between two people". I cannot see how, from this perspective, forbidding sibling-sibling incest can be anything other than the evil discrimination you are attempting to eliminate by changing the position on homosexual unions.

No-one is arguing that "homosexual unions and incest are the same". I am arguing that you have to do a better job of showing why your arguments in support of one do not equally apply to the other.

16 October 2011 at 13:23  
Blogger David Vance said...

I also stand with St Paul, I suggest the odd ideas are the one in the article by His Grace,

16 October 2011 at 13:24  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"- My understanding of Ephesians 5 is actually an attempt to understand Paul's own thought. If you wish to direct me to or offer what the actual arguments of Ephesians 5 are, I would be happy to read them."

I believe the answer to this is Ephesians 5:21-

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." [My emphasis]

Paul's writing is explicitly analogical throughout this passage (and in Colossians 3:18-19). So if we want to understand "Paul's own thought" we need to make sure we incorporate his fullest theology of Christ. Christ's headship, of both the Church and Creation, is consistently modelled through submission, obedience and self-sacrifice. A husband who does this would not only honour and respect his wife's submission to him, but would endeavour to submit his own self, even to the point of death, for the sake of his wife.

I understand your desire to pull in contextual evidence. So let's do that too. We have a pagan culture that whilst affording women certain rights, nevertheless treats them unambiguously as inferior to men. In the culture of occupied Palestine, we also have the same - the testimony of a woman is not equal to that of a man. Enter Paul, who writes consistently that the distinctions between men and women are null in Christ, who models his discussions on marriage grammatically and metaphorically around mutual submission, and who makes reference on countless occasions to women who have helped him, or inspired faith in others (like Timothy). Paul isn't in the business of reinforcing the culture of his time, but challenging and abjuring it. The trope of being distinct from the world, so often used in debates today where culture and religion clash, comes from Paul. His admonitions of women are made precisely because he engages women as he does men - as inviduals fully capable of participating in the process of their salvation.

The other relevant issue of context that is so overlooked, is that the early church was particularly successful amongst women. This tells us two things - firstly that there must have been something appealing to those women. You don't voluntarily engage in a religion that subjugates you even further than your native culture - especially when doing so may well put your life at risk. Secondly, it alers us to the fact that Paul probably has this female audience in mind when he structures his pastoral writing. Paul's writing on marriage is not only aimed at Christian marriages but pagan ones where one partner (more frequently implied to be the wife) is a believer. For those wives, the exhortation to submission takes on a further dimension. They are submitting to bring their husbands to Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:14).

I'd ask you how you believe this would be possible if that submission was intended primarily (even if not exclusively) as a means of propping up patriarchal culture. For Paul, submission is not merely a requirement for good living, but a principal tool in the arsenal of the evangelist. And it's one he puts in the hands of women.

16 October 2011 at 13:24  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Your Grace, let me first of all applaud you for bringing in someone from the opposite side of the debate to raise their view on the matter. Whilst you, I and others may not agree with what they think their view has just as much right to be heard as any other and for you to let them do it here shows, to me at least, a very positive way of dealing with the debate.

As to the content, I am very much in agreement with Gerv on this. The idea of picking and choosing what you want to include as relevant to today is crass theology. It reduces it to a "pick-and-mix" mentality which leads to the end result of humans making God in their own image, rather than allowing God to make us in His image.

Specifically on the Paul issue, do you (Andrew Grey) really think that you know better than Paul on this matter? Let us not forget that Paul was highly knowledgeable of the Scriptures (OT), from his time before conversion, with the Sanhedrin (sp?), chief priests and other religious leaders. Paul also met God in what I believe is the 5th most direct contact with God that is recorded in the Bible (after Adam and Eve, Moses, Elijah and the people that met Jesus) and was led by Him through all his missionary work. And then we have all the people for the next 250 years who agonised over what was truly of God to be put into the Bible. Are you really saying that you know more than Paul and all the people that came after him?

As to the matter of gay marriage in a secular context, why on earth do homosexual couples want to force the church to accept them being married? For starters I am pretty sure that the majority are unlikely to be Christians, so why do they want a wedding ceremony that is to be declared before God? And why are people so intent on it being called "marriage"? Marriage, according to the dictionary, is "the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.". This, by it's very definition, excludes same-sex unions from being under it's label. You might as well say you are a Christian-Satanist or a Christian-Atheist. You are either one or the other, you can't be both! Sure, you could make up some new name to call it so you don't call it "gay marriage", which I could understand to feel a bit of a stigmatic label. But as soon as you redefine what the word "marriage" means you actually make it mean nothing. It is what it is, why not accept that and live with having all the legal benefits that marriage has but just not the name?

Finally, on the argument around incest, how is it different from the homosexual debate? If you have 2 adults who are wanting to live together as a sexual couple and they just so happen to be closely related, where is the issue with society? The one that is always brought up is the genetic defects one, which is a total fallacy. Anyone who has done GCSE biology would be able to tell you that the odds of genetic problems from first generation incestuous offspring are so low they are almost non-existent. And that's before we then look at the possibility of those who have "had their tubes tied" and so could not have children.
Let's say you could prove that genetic defects can come from first generation offspring, so they are made infertile. Where's the objection now? Or, to make this argument really interesting, how about incestuous brothers or incestuous sisters? Can a brother be a sexual partner to his brother in a loving relationship? There's no chance of offspring there, so where's the argument?

So, in summary, a fallacy will always be a fallacy, no matter how eloquently put.

16 October 2011 at 13:52  
Blogger Jackistotle said...

An excellent post Mr Grey,


graham wood, you use 2 Timothy 3:16 as your evidence for the authority of Scripture. I find this particularly ironic given that such a large proportion of modern biblical scholars would suggest that 2 Timothy itself could not have been written by Paul due to linguistic and thematic differences between this and the other pastoral epistles.

If you argue that scripture is "every word breathed from the mouth of God" then it must follow that God is both confused and contradictory, how else could we end up with gospel accounts that clearly differ in terms of the timing of events and the precise teaching of Jesus? Consider just one example: the date of the last supper. Matthew, Mark and Luke have this occuring on the first day of the Passover (Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7) but John has it occur a day earlier and Jesus is crucified on the first day of Passover (John 19:14).

I'm sorry but you just can't argue that scripture is all God's word and that's the end of the argument. It requires analysis because we have to accept that it is written by humans who are trying to record AS BEST THEY CAN events of God's interaction with our world.

If that leads to problems with scripture's infallibility (which it must) then we look to God for help in our interpretation, we don't just pretend the problems don't exist

16 October 2011 at 14:02  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Gerv:

"you really can't pick and choose [...] The fact that no supporter of 'traditional' Christianity would advocate these things should suggest something about how the Bible is interpreted and some parts given primacy over others even by those who insist that the whole collection of songs, history, polemic, wise sayings, visions and love poetry should be regarded as immutable divine ordinance."

There is no reason why any Christian would view the Bible as being uniformly designed as a kind of law. One might regard it as such if you were inclined towards certain strains of Jewish legal thought, but Christians have been released from the law of death into the law of the spirit (Romans 8:2 - cf. also 1 Corinthians 15:56). If someone reads the Pauline epistles and then argues that the laws of the Torah have to be obeyed to the letter by the modern Church, I'd suggest that they haven't understood a word they've read.

On the other hand, one might observe that whereas many of the cultural laws are jettisoned or re-presented in the New Testament precisely because they act as a hindrance to love rather than a guarantee of them (consider for instance Jesus' teaching and actions on the Sabbath), the issue of homosexuality remains not as a cultural taboo (which perhaps better captures the complexity of OT language - often rendered in English as "abomination" - see below), but as an issue of morality. Quite clearly "homosexuality" in this case refers not to the notion of sexual orientation in the modern sense, but to sexual acts between members of the same sex. These are consistently, and unambiguously presented as being outside the purview of Christian behaviour.

For gay sex to be permissable, like all sex, it must be within the confines of marriage - so straight out, there's the issue. At present most mainstream churches do not offer gay marriage. At present, then, gay sex is not permissable to most Christians. That's not to say that those who do it are somehow more immoral than any of the rest of us - those who seek to ascribe a special kind of sinfulness to homosexuality have also missed the point.

I tend personally towards the view, articulated by Paul, that it is better to marry than to burn with lust. I'm inclined to think this means that we should seriously consider the possibility of gay marriage, not least because it may be a means of relieving a heavy burden on our brothers and sisters. I'm not in any way inclined to consider gay marriage because the modern world insists it should be so. I would instead averr that if gay Christian marriage is going to have any meaning, it cannot be achieved by throwing out or denigrating the sexual morality that exists at the heart of our faith. Neither should we be willing to sacrifice Biblical authority (rather than inerrancy or infallibility) to do so - because what would be the point? Any advancement on this issue that did not accept Biblical authority would have no basis for its judgement being morally significant, and any claims for the revelatory nature of the Gospels would be pretty suspect.

References:
http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/2826/does_the_bible_really_call_homosexuality_an_%E2%80%9Cabomination%E2%80%9D

See also this for a rebuttal:
http://www.morethancake.org/2010/07/taboo.html

16 October 2011 at 14:06  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

summer_rainbow

I always felt strange about the usage of the term head, to mean leader or controller. After all it was believed that it was the heart that took the role of the brain.

It seems that he was saying that a married couple are one person rather than of unequal worth (especially when one looks at the passage he writes on how gifts do not make members of the Church more important than others.

It does not follow that Paul was a misogynist. I sometimes wonder about whether translating the Bible into the vernacular without first teaching it in its origin is a good idea. After all, it very often leads to mistranslations such as found in Ephesians.

Very informative link and well found, thank you.

16 October 2011 at 14:19  
Blogger A S Grey said...

Youthpasta,

You are very right in your comments about the importance of airing both sides of any debate, especially one as heated and vibrant as the gay marriage discussion.

I don't necessarily think I "know better" than Paul, but I do disagree with him. I believe that is my right. Paul was a great Apostle who may have been called by God and experienced and encountered Christ - but that doesn't make him infallible. Many Christian mystics have encountered God/Christ (and many modern Christians claim to haev) but this does not make their final word on every issue authoritative.

With regard to your second objection, I think my post argues why people want to have gay marriage.

To your incest point - I don't believe I actually draw on the genetics argument at all?

Graham Wood:
Thank you very much, I am aware of 2 Timothy 3:16 and was waiting for it to be raised in objection. I am aware that the term used is "Theopneustos" but do not believe that this necessarily means that God dictated every word. If God is ultimate perfection, how can the Bible contain imperfections? Yet, of course, it does. This view of the Bible is akin to the conservative Muslim view of the Qur'an, but is not necessary for Christians to believe. I am afraid I do not believe it. If this makes me a heretic or an irreverent, wishy-washy liberal, then so be it. Plus cf. 'Jackistotle''s comment about the authenticity of the epistle.

16 October 2011 at 14:20  
Blogger Si Hollett said...

Just to take the points made by Andrew Grey about women and subordination to their natural conclusion then Jesus must be less than the Father because he subordinates to the Father. (It's also worth noting 1Cor 11:5, which has the man and wife relationship mirroring the Father and Son relationship). Arius would be proud!

Unlike the JWs, who go with women being less human than men (though they deny it, the arguments their literature gives for Jesus not being fully God rely on that being true), Grey seems to be pushing for modalism, where 'Father' and 'Son' are mere labels, just like 'husband' and 'wife'.

Either way, the Father becomes 'father' in name only, rather than as a fundamental aspect of his personhood, and that leads down a horrible path.

16 October 2011 at 14:30  
Blogger A S Grey said...

summer_rainbow:

Thanks for the article. One of the most important skills in translation is to not just assume a meaning on the basis of one's Greek, but also to examine very clearly the context of the term being used. Even the article you posted agrees that the term 'head' is sometimes used to mean leader or chief, and my suggestion that this is Paul's meaning here is, for me, corroborated by the strong presence of submission language and ideas in this passage.

16 October 2011 at 14:30  
Blogger Gerv said...

AnonymousInBelfast:

A clarification; you seem to attribute that quote at the start of your message to me, but in fact it is the words of Justin Brett (who quoted me earlier in his message - perhaps leading to the confusion).

Gerv

16 October 2011 at 14:33  
Blogger graham wood said...

Jackistotle said:

"graham wood, you use 2 Timothy 3:16 as your evidence for the authority of Scripture. I find this particularly ironic given that such a large proportion of modern biblical scholars would suggest that 2 Timothy itself could not have been written by Paul due to linguistic and thematic differences between this and the other pastoral epistles."

Indeed, a large number of modern biblical scholars may well make such claims. But there are also very many theologically conservative scholars, on equally sound theological and historical grounds who see no reason to dispute the Apostle Paul's own claim to be the author of the Pastorals.
Why then would a "fraud", or another author preface his letter with the familiar words of Paul:
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ"?

16 October 2011 at 14:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Jackistotle:

Infallibility, inerrancy and authority are three very different concepts. The latter is the oldest and most consistent in Christian tradition - that is that the Bible is authoritative and may claim a special ontological status as the product of divine revelation and divine inspiration. Inerrancy and infallibility are, I tend to think, far less sustainable. Firstly because when Paul wrote about Scripture, most of what comprises the New Testament had not been written or committed to parchment (hence he cannot have been talking about, say the Gospel of John which was likely written after his death). Secondly, because Judaism does not hold to total inerrancy or infallibility with regards to Scripture (though passages of direct divine revelation are afforded a different interpretative status which is close to being inerrant and is, by virtue of coming from G-d directly, infallible).

To say that God's Spirit inspired the scribes that eventually copied down what became the Book of Exodus, or that the Spirit was at work in the writing of the Pauline epistles does not mean that we can expect them to be perfectly accurate (inerrant) or that they perfectly and totally embody God's intentions (infallible). Most Christians tend to be closer to the latter term, however, by virtue of the fact that they believe that the Bible is not merely the product of social and linguistic processes, but was influenced by God throughout.

In this respect, it's essentially an argument for a divine teleology for the Bible - some will take a viewpoint metaphorically equivalent to Creationism and assert that it is a direct product of that influence, others will be closer to intelligent design and suggest it shows planned development from start to finish, whilst others still will take a Christian-evolutionist view and argue that while the product of material processes that may be understood without recourse to the divine (i.e. Biblical Historical Analysis), the Bible nevertheless possesses ontologically real authority and meaning that derives from the existence of an active God rather than solely from its material conditions. All three of course, rely on belief in God, making any of them an easy attack point for those who don't.

The argument that "it must follow that God is both confused and contradictory" is itself the product of a limited way of thinking about texts, and about intentionality (and is unfortunately shared by hardline atheists and Christians alike). I tend to add a further stage to the concept of Biblical authority - that the Spirit not only inspired the production of the Bible, but He inspires the reception of it. Quite clearly, if the Bible is indeed the product of God a great many people have read it without noticing this quality. Christians believe that what sets them apart from the world is not a special ability or knowledge, but rather that the Spirit dwells within them. It seems to be that the God-inspired reception of the Bible tends to reflect the love, compassion and integrity of the Spirit - as you say "we look to God for help in our interpretation". But if we accept the validity of the Spirit inspiring reception, it seems impossible to reject the validity of His inspiration of the production of the Bible (including the process of developing canon etc.).

Of course, if you don't believe in God, this is quite clearly tautologous nonsense.

16 October 2011 at 14:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Gerv - you are indeed correct! My apologies to both yourself and Justin Brett who I did indeed confuse.

Obviously wasn't being infallibly inspired when I wrote that :)

16 October 2011 at 14:37  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

If this is "theology" then I really am an extinct bird!

What a poor piece of writing. It misrepresents St Paul's understanding of marriage; it barely explores the Christian objections to homosexual relationships; and it concludes with the pragmatic idea that if homosexuals want to marry then let them.

Who is this guy and on what authority does he offer his theological insights?

16 October 2011 at 14:40  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"Who is this guy and on what authority does he offer his theological insights?"

Asks who and by what authority?

16 October 2011 at 14:47  
Blogger graham wood said...

Mr Grey. Thanks for your further comments which I find particularly unconvincing. You say:
"Graham Wood:
Thank you very much, I am aware of 2 Timothy 3:16 and was waiting for it to be raised in objection. I am aware that the term used is "Theopneustos" but do not believe that this necessarily means that God dictated every word. If God is ultimate perfection, how can the Bible contain imperfections?"

In reply I ask: does this mean that Paul used the word "theopneustos" in error? Did he mean that only some of Scripture is "breathed out by God"? If so, who decides which scriptures these are? When Paul says ALL scripture, was he then guilty of hyperbole, exaggeration, or lying on such aa vital issue?
He was after all an Apostle.
On your arguement therefore if the Bible contains errors, then of course it cannot be trustworthy for him to tell Timothy (2 Tim. 3:15) that it's content is sufficient to inform him and his readers as to the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
You cannot have your cake (partial inerrancy of the Bible) and eat it!
What a discovery for poor Timothy to find out that he had been deceived "from a child" as to the integrity of the Scriptures he had been taught.
Why not be honest and say outright that you do not believe in the full authority and inerrancy of Scripture and have done with it, instead of special pleading for your subjective and liberal view of it?
As for your question above :
"how can the Bible contain imperfections?" Can you name some please?

16 October 2011 at 14:52  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Oh, it's okay, I've figured out the basis of his authority.

Mr Gray believes he knows better than St Paul and can dismiss parts of the New Testament as flawed.

He claims no special knowledge or insight in politics or religion:

"...my new blog is not supposed to be an expert analysis of things, but rather just some (seemingly drunken) rambling which you are free to pick apart (as long as you're nice about it).

16 October 2011 at 14:53  
Blogger Nicodemus said...

pretty depressing really. If this blog can't make a clear stand for the divine institution of marriage between a man and a woman, who can?

16 October 2011 at 14:54  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Mr Cranmer

Thank you for the correction in grammar, Sir. Much obliged.

16 October 2011 at 14:55  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@ A S Grey:

"my suggestion that this is Paul's meaning here is, for me, corroborated by the strong presence of submission language and ideas in this passage."

Admirable though your attention to linguistic context is, you're treating the concept of submission as if it is one-dimensional - that is, that Paul's use of submission reflects a worldly meaning of the term. Christian submission, though, is distinct from worldly submission, in that it is not indicative of weakness or inferiority. It's also not exclusively Pauline in origin, but arises from Christ's own teaching of (amongst other things) turning the other cheek.

I'm not suggesting you're wrong to pick up on the emphasis of submission. I'm suggesting you've supplanted a specifically Christian understanding of submission for a worldly one, and that the interpretation that results is accordingly erroneous.

16 October 2011 at 14:55  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Mr Gray

”Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set”

The time is right, the homosexuals reason, for along with tacit acceptance, must come ‘equality’ or whatever they consider equality. It won’t be the end you know, that will only happen when homosexuality is exalted to the status of what the ancients would have called ‘a priestly class’ to be aimed for. Taking his own inspiration from the bible, the Inspector wonders if he has to cut off someone’s ear to prevent this...

16 October 2011 at 15:04  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

Never mind theology, its just another example of political correctness gone mad:
http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.com/2011/10/political-correctness-gone-mad.html

16 October 2011 at 15:18  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

The problem with gay marriage is that it implies there is no telos in marriage, and by extension in sex. It makes all such relationships 'at will' relationships subject only to the desires of those who would enter them. That's perfectly consistent for the Western World because that is what the Western World presently believes. But you can't sustain a civilization on that basis.

carl

16 October 2011 at 15:21  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Mr Gray

Let us be totally frank here. You believe that buggery is consistent with God’s plan...

16 October 2011 at 15:27  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"One is compelled to ask why should aspiring homosexual (secular) marriage partners seek validation in CHRISTIAN churches?"

This gay person does not seek that. Perhaps some do but, like you, I think that's quite odd. Perhaps some gay Christians do ... however that is something for churches to argue for or against.

16 October 2011 at 15:50  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector

Straight to the point as ever.

I suspect Mr Gray has no idea what God's plan might be - if indeed he believes in such a Supreme Being at all. He has clearly stated his opinion that the authors of the bible were writing under their own inspiration, not that of the Holy Spirit.

Mr Cranmer should have made his blog available to a more 'enlightened' and biblically grounded Christian theologian.

16 October 2011 at 15:55  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Si Hollet said
“Grey seems to be pushing for modalism, where 'Father' and 'Son' are mere labels, just like 'husband' and 'wife'. “

“Either way, the Father becomes 'father' in name only, rather than as a fundamental aspect of his personhood, and that leads down a horrible path.”

Exactly, this horrible path is what is beginning to form with the subtle homogenising of the male female sexes of which this article by Andrew Grey is just another very subtle attempt at it by making traditional marriage sound so far removed from our modern society and the direction in which the minorities want it to go.

“For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church…Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. (Eph 5:23-24)”

Of course Paul meant head as in head of the family. A male being the stronger, bigger, protector of the sexes is head of his family. It is not derogatory to women at all. What Mr Grey is subtly trying to do here is blur the boundaries of the sexes so that he can justify “gay marriage” in the Church, and who knows what other types of “marriages” in the Church could follow.

16 October 2011 at 15:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "The problem with gay marriage is that it implies there is no telos in marriage, and by extension in sex."

That's not really true, is it? The telos of eating is nourishment but it can also be pleasant in and of itself and it can be a social activity.

16 October 2011 at 15:56  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16 October 2011 at 15:56  
Blogger David B said...

I find the original post refreshing, and surprisingly liberal, in the non political sense of the word.

However, to me it, and those who demur from his views, are talking of marriage from a Christian perspective.

Whether homosexual Christians which to have marriages blessed in a church, and whether the various churches wish to avail them of such an option, I see as very much a matter for the individuals and their churches.

For myself, until recently I thought it pretty much a non issue, and one which, as a heterosexual, was not one which impinged on me.

Internet discussions have changed my mind on this, since seeing what I view as institutional injustice does affect me, and I am now in favour of legalising homosexual marriage, though not of imposing an obligation on any or all churches to perform such a marriage.

From my secular perspective, there is more to marriage than procreation and sex, not least being a formal recognition that two people become each others next of kin.

It is harrowing tales of long term loving partners being excluded from funerals, having no say in funeral or late life care arrangements, being evicted from long shared properties at the behest of the legal next of kin that changed my mind.

It seems to me unjust that some persons are able to enjoy a marriage should they so choose, while other loving couples cannot.

If religious people don't like it, then they shouldn't do it, but for them to allow their religious prejudices to deny other people choice is plain wrong, in my view.

David B

16 October 2011 at 15:59  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16 October 2011 at 16:01  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Mr DanJ0

Yes, but over indulgence in eating leads to gluttony and obesity if the original telos is lost sight of in favour of a total focus on pleasure.

What is the purpose of sexual relationships?

16 October 2011 at 16:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Yes, pointless over indulgence in eating leads to obesity and gluttony if the original telos is lost sight of. The purpose of eating is nourishment - enjoyment is secondary."

Well, I'm happy to eat on many occasions without being obsessed with vitamin and mineral and calorie content of the meal. That's a lower level thing. If I go out to dinner then I'm selecting as much on the style and quality of the cooked food and the ambience of the restaurant. The enjoyment of the particular night is primary, the nourishment is secondary. And the last thing anyone needs the morning after a successful night is Gillian McKeith turning up with her tupperware box and her disapproving attitude.

16 October 2011 at 16:15  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "What is the purpose of sexual relationships?"

For most people, a combination of immediate pleasure, longer term satisfaction, emotional and physical intimacy, and pair-bonding, I should imagine. At various points, couples may want children to come out of the sex and the relationship too.

16 October 2011 at 16:20  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@David B.

I hold to the same view broadly. There is no reason for Christians to legislate on behalf of non-Christians.

On the other hand, nor should there be an inalienable right available to governments to redefine traditional practices.

The government has introduced Civil Partnerships - quite evidently these exist to ensure parity of legal rights for gay couples. Who the government chooses to admit to this institution, and what principles it is based upon is a matter for democratic decision making. Were the government to admit heterosexual couples to Civil Partnerships I would have absolutely no problem.

If the government no longer wishes to support the institution of marriage, however, because it believes it to be discriminatory, it is perfectly able to withdraw from it. Civil Partnerships could simply become the legal requirement which everyone would need to benefit from "married" status. Its right to intervene in and directly alter a fundamental aspect of an institution that is literally millenia old (and specifically within this country, is a millenia-old Christian sacrament) is considerably more suspect.

People undertaking Civil Partnerships would no doubt think of it as being married - and refer to it as such. I wouldn't propose any kind of illiberal measure whereby only traditionalists have the right to use the word marriage. However, the sacrament of marriage is, and should remain, ontologically and legally distinct.

That said - as my posts above illustrate, I have no problem considering the possibility of admitting gay couples to the sacrament of marriage. Any such consideration, however, must be carried out with reference to the cohesiveness of the concept of marriage, and with the consent of the faith groups who administer it. Anything else demeans the sacramental character of marriage, and rather than making marriage open, simply makes all marriages civil partnerships.

16 October 2011 at 16:20  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

I have a s much interest in the theological arguments for and against certain subjects as most here will have in the internal doctrinal debates that go on within the Labour Party. However, it does appear to likely to me - that contrary to what appears the case here that there are some theologicai arguments in favour of gay marriage - since for some reason the Quakers appear to have found them. Perhaps the more intellectually honest might want to look the Quakers theological arguments?

16 October 2011 at 16:25  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AnonInBelfast: "If the government no longer wishes to support the institution of marriage, however, because it believes it to be discriminatory, it is perfectly able to withdraw from it. Civil Partnerships could simply become the legal requirement which everyone would need to benefit from "married" status."

Alternatively, we could use the existing Civil Marriage route for marriages without rites from specific religions and move civil partnerships over since they achieve the same end. The sacrament of marriage is a religious appendage over the top of the social institution of marriage and varies according to the diverse religions claiming it.

16 October 2011 at 16:41  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

The Quakers are a breed apart - theologically.

The views of Quakers around the world towards homosexuality encompasses a range from complete celebration and the practice of same-sex marriage, to the view that homosexuality is sinfully deviant and contrary to God's intentions for sexual expression.

It's not even clear if they are a Christian body.

The Religious Society of Friends began as a Christian movement (though a few contemporary Quakers in some meetings do not consider themselves Christian, while some consider themselves as part of a Universal religion, that for historical reasons is rooted in Christianity).

Perhaps a Friend might want to explain their position as I can't unearth it!

"Quaker decision making is generally based on seeking "unity" at the level of a Monthly meeting, determining a particular Quaker attitude is difficult on this or any topic. Monthly meetings are organized into larger groups ... but often these larger groups have conflicting stances on particular issues ... In the end, the true "Quaker view" on homosexuality is probably best analysed meeting by meeting (or, better, Friend by Friend.)

So, it all depends who you ask!

16 October 2011 at 16:41  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@tory boys never grow up

Quakers don't do theology in the conventional sense (they would neither prescribe or proscribe gay marriage). Their lack of dogma makes them accessible to a wide array of people, and even affords them the dubious honour of being the celebrity atheist's religion of choice when trying to give examples of "reasonable religion".

On the other hand, it also means that it is possible for Quakers to hold views that would be heretical in mainstream Christianity. It means that when one looks at Quaker faith, you really have to take it on a case-by-case, individual-by-individual basis to do it any justice.

No doubt there are some excellent insights available in Quaker views on marriage, but there are likely to be some pretty duff ones too. Such is the peril of taking a laissez-faire attitude to religious truth.

16 October 2011 at 16:43  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo @ 14:55 :

I could be wrong; but I suspect His Grace was not endeavouring a correction of your grammar @14:47, but 'turning' your own question, perhaps?

General: Mr. Gray's exposition is an interesting one, but although he nods to a seeming dénouement, does not then actually conclude. Of course, this may well have been his intent; allowing for continuing discussion?

For myself, I rather tend to agree with DanJo's ponderings @ 15:50 - why?

16 October 2011 at 16:45  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Oswin

I don't speak on my own authority.

Bishop Tartaglia, of Glasgow:

"Marriage is an institution which does not owe its existence or rationale to governments or legislatures.

"Governments do not have the authority to say what marriage is or to change its nature or to decree that people of the same sex can marry."

"A government which favours and allows for same-sex marriage does wrong.

"It fails in its duty to society. It undermines the common good. It commits an act of cultural vandalism.

"Such a government does not deserve the trust which the nation, and including many in the Catholic community, has shown in it."

16 October 2011 at 16:52  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Danj0:

Yep, quite. That was sort of what I meant from a legal perspective - but whether you call them civil partnerships or civil marriages (there is practially no difference between the legal function of them anyway), we appear to be agreed that the religious component is distinct.

It wouldn't have worried me in the slightest to have had a civil partnership/marriage - the important part, and the only part I really care about is the sacrament, but I would have regarded this as constituting the binding aspect of our union even if the law didn't recognise it. I suspect that many couples who participate in civil unions of any kind likewise regard their devotion to one another as being the critical component of their relationship rather than the strictly legal aspect.

16 October 2011 at 16:54  
Blogger David B said...

@AnonymousinBelfast 16.43

I've read your post quite carefully more than once, and agree that we are very much on the same page in practical and humanitarian terms.

I agree that a civil partnership should be available to heterosexual and homosexuals alike.

I think a semantic difference remains though.

I don't see marriage as particularly the domain of the various Christian churches, despite their traditional influence over the last centuries in this part of the world, since as far as I can tell marriage is pretty much ubiquitous around the world, and into deep time.

I don't see any reason why civil unions should not be termed civil marriages, nor any reason why religious people should not have a religious marriage service as well as a civil one, or even that the civil and religious services should not be integrated into one service should the participants so wish, and the relevant church is willing to perform the ceremony.

Whether a church should recognise a civil marriage, as I remain happy to call it (though I think people should be afforded the choice if terming it a civil marriage or a civil union) would be very much up to the individual sect.

I find myself wondering if all churches (or all religions) recognise as legitimate marriage ceremonies performed by other churches within broadly the same religion, or from different religions, or between atheists, or purely secular occasions.

I simply do not know the answer to this, though I sort of have the idea that some churches don't recognise a divorce.

Can you, or anyone, help me better understand the situation regarding this?

David B

16 October 2011 at 17:17  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

AnonymousinBelfast

I am not in a position to argue with you - but I have my doubts as to whether Quakers would entirely agree with your analysis of themselves. Just because their analysis is not conventional it doesn't mean that it doesn't have validity - the same could have been said of most schools of thought at one time.

You are right that a church without dogma may have its attractions - it is often the case that those individuals in life who are without dogma are able to provide the most profound insights.

16 October 2011 at 17:19  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

DavidB

I think the case with the Quakers is that they allow religous marriages even though there is currenly no such thing as a civil marriage - so obviously they are quite happy with the idea that religous and civil marriages may be different things.

16 October 2011 at 17:24  
Blogger Hazel said...

Marie

Of course Paul meant head as in head of the family. A male being the stronger, bigger, protector of the sexes is head of his family. It is not derogatory to women at all.

Then why in 1 Timothy 3 does it talk about the ideal Bishop/Deacon as being the ruler of his own house? Such control being an attribute that he will need if he is to take care of god's house? (See verse 4-5 and 12). It seems that no 'new men' need apply for those jobs!

There is an implication of enforced control in there. Women are an after-thought (verse 11), part of a household and, as such, a group of people that need to be kept in line.

You may not find Paul derogatory to women, however, I must disagree.

16 October 2011 at 17:29  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ramble Part One

Same sex marriage has been legalised in Canada since 2005 through the Civil Marriage Act under a Liberal government and was imposed on all the provincial governments as marriage is, constitutionally, a federal matter here. Without a proper debate or a national referendum, the decision to define same sex unions as marriage was made by a ruling party through a technocratic process and as a piece of judicial activism. It was preceded by massive and expensive "public education" campaigns fully backed by mainstream media and was presented as an urgent human rights issue which would benefit all, and would not affect the rights or obligations of the majority who were, for various reasons, in disagreement.

A huge factor in the popular indifference to this unilateral redefinition of marriage was the argument that this was a humanitarian issue, one of simple justice, kindness, tolerance and respect for human rights, and that it would in no way affect the civil or religous right of others. Then, as now, opponents were berated in the media and in publicly funded educational institutions for being behind the times, mean and relying on faulty and ridiculous "slippery slope" arguments. When pressed in Parliament, the government insisted that it would be unlikely that religious institutions and religious rights would be affected....but, significantly, refused to guarantee this with legislative protection.

The progress of this imposition from the federal bureaucracy has been predictable. In spite of initial promises by same sex marriage pronents that the change would be a private matter, of concern only to the couples involved, all the monetary and civil benefits afforded to "conventional" couples were now honoured by the government, with the use of public money, and imposed on private industry to be borne eventually by the consumer. While religious institutions here cannot, yet, be compelled to officiate same sex marriages, this is being challenged and civil official can no longer decline, for personal reasons, to officiate such unions in some provinces.

Cont'd....

16 October 2011 at 17:39  
Blogger graham wood said...

"I am aware that the term used is "Theopneustos" but do not believe that this necessarily means that God dictated every word. If God is ultimate perfection, how can the Bible contain imperfections?"

Mr Grey. Readers are still waiting for your answer on the question....
"If God...... Bible contains imperfections" ?

16 October 2011 at 17:39  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ramble Part Two

Same sex marriage was soft-sold by the media and the education establishments for at least a decade before being legalized. Today, this soft-sell has become an aggressive program comprising of orchestrated "celebrations," blunt derision of its opponents, dark accusations of homophobia and aggressive threats against dissenting groups and individuals. In public schools children are now required to learn about two "mommies" or two "daddies" as a fact of life which must not only be tolerated, but must now be "celebrated" publicly by all adminsitrators, teachers and children without exception. The logic behind this turn is simple: Since there are kids with same sex parents who can now claim official married status in many of the schools, any child, teacher or parent who does not accept the new definition of marriage must not only remain silent, but must measurably demonstrate whole-hearted support...for the children's sake, of course Anything less would be injurious to the "victim" student and an alarming indication of intolerance and prejudice which amounts to "bullying."

Same sex marriage is no longer just about the "rights" of a minority; it now involves a progressive and increasingly aggressive program of limitation of rights for those who dissent...be it for religious or cultural reasons...and in practice involve an insiduous program of enforcing consensus through what amounts to an energetic social engineering programme conducted by elites and backed by the government, public institutions and the judiciary. Our tax dollars at work. Contrary to the dismissive arguments of some of the proponents here, same sex marriage is indeed a slippery slope, as other groups are currently seeking to redefine marriage by including bigamy and child marriages, which are frequent and acceptable in many cultures. The path to full civil and legal acceptance of such currently banned unions has started its meander along the same route as that of same sex marriage, with the further advatage that there are long historical precedents to bigamy and child marriage. In Canada, several legislators have admitted publicly that acceptance of bigamy and child marriage is an inevitability.

Is same sex marriage with us forever? Yes, according to its proponents and defendants. There is a current belief that once this cat is out of the bag, it cannot be put back without serious violations of human and civil rights. Yet, this need not be the case. Without striving for big statements and blanket prohibitions, dissenters can begin the push-back by working to promote, legitimize and secure rights of dissent not just in their decreasing ability to protest or even opine publicly, but in their right to refuse collaboration and to provide legitimacy or assistance as private individuals, social groups and businesses. This can be accomplished under the same legal and rights structures that brought in the changes in the first place.

16 October 2011 at 17:40  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

....aaand, Ramble Part Three

Aknowledging "marriage" by same sex partners must be down-graded from a lofty, universal, civil rights issue to a what it is: An extremist experiment, a far-reaching authoritarian imposition by by a minority and sympathetic elites. The issue must first be aired, discussed, challenged and reframed as a question of rights of expression and conscience and individual choice. This would entail exhausting battles on single, limited issues. For example, teachers may attempt to secure the right to refuse presenting material which goes against their conscience. Parents can demand that school even forego sex education entirely to block the stream of pro-LGBT instruction currently taking place. Insurers and businesses can fight to secure the right not to treat same sex unions as traditional marriage and to take on the commercial consequences if they so desire. Such a pushback would be difficult, as already any approach which treats LGBT issues in less than a fully accepting and fully approving matter is on the well on the way of becoming outlawed. I would suggest that rather than engaging in philosophical and religious debates, those of us who oppose this development stop apologizing for their theology to a largely secular society and to focus instead on "outing" the authoritarian nature of this bizarre, top-heavy social engineering process.

Th-th-th-th-that's all, folks.

16 October 2011 at 17:41  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Oh dear Hazel.

Marie is right. You must appreciate how it was in those days for women...

16 October 2011 at 17:43  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

None of this matters folks.

len and Ernsty

Quick - put your houses in order!

Harold Camping, who announced the Rapture was due in May, has had another revelation:

The world will now end on October 21 2011.

Camping says God held off in May 2011 out of mercy.

16 October 2011 at 17:46  
Blogger Hazel said...

You must appreciate how it was in those days for women...

Goodness me, OoIG

An acknowledgement that times change? You will be agreeing with Mr Grey next...

The problem with this model is that it not only reduces women to a status which they, thankfully, in Western society, no longer hold, but it also is completely incorrect.

16 October 2011 at 17:51  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

I’m out of my depth here but doesn’t St Paul condemn homosexuals in Romans 1? Then again, if South African theologians can find Biblical support for apartheid, it must be a doddle for any self-respecting theologian to make the Bible say whatever he wants it to say.

16 October 2011 at 18:11  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

Marriage is a religious institution. It is between a man and a woman. And that's it.
I've nothing against gay relationships; even formal tying of the knot. But It can't be done under the guise of a religious service. I'm not sure what else there is to say.

16 October 2011 at 18:20  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel - Women have only come to fore in the last 40 years. It came hand in hand with financial independence. Enjoy.

(The Inspector has long noted that women get very, well annoyed even emotional, when they look at their position throughout history. St Paul of course would have expected men to look after their women, so he had their interests in his mind)

16 October 2011 at 18:24  
Blogger len said...

Dodo, So Harold Camping speaks for me now?.So pleased you have told me because I never realised!.

As you know (or should at least have guessed by now) I hold to the authority of Scripture

IF you can find 'The world will now end on October 21 2011.'
in the Bible I will be most surprised as I have never come across it.

As you must surely be beginning to guess by now 'if it a`int in the Bible, it a`int true!perhaps you should apply this rule to some of your'Way out Dodo' philosophies ?.

16 October 2011 at 18:27  
Blogger Anglican said...

The essential point is that if marriage is defined as a union between any two (or more?)adults, then logically all barriers are down. It would be discrimatory to refuse it to a brother and sister, 2 sisters, 2 brothers, a father and daughter, a son and his mother, etc. It would leave a toxic legacy, not least for children.

16 October 2011 at 18:29  
Blogger len said...

Hazel,
I don``t think the Inspector General likes women.Thinks they should be kept in 'their place'.
Don`t tell him I told you so.

16 October 2011 at 18:29  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Hazel

Don't men try to please their wives when they love them? Haven't they always tried to? Isn't this a characteristic of the male psyche? And in-turn the woman if the male has understood her correctly and succeeds in making her happy follows him, stays faithful to him and with him. The real ruler of the house is the woman. The language has changed but the concept remains the same. Haven't you heard that behind most successful males there is a woman.

I think some women do need to be kept in line! Are you one of those feminists who are trying to emasculate men to a degree where there is no difference in the genders so that we are all the same?
God intended there to be two very different sexes all that needed adjusting was the communication and understanding levels. But, it seems men are morphing into women and women are becoming more masculine.

16 October 2011 at 18:30  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel

The Inspector believes the only worthwhile unit is ‘family’ - that is married man, woman and children. Any deviation from that is pure selfishness on the individuals part. Marie makes the important point that men should be men, and women women. In the past, a woman thought long and hard about who to marry. Nowadays they seem to jump into bed after a couple of drinks.

Where do homosexuals and indeed single people fit in. Well, they have their place, but the family concept is the one to aim for. Any ‘marriage’ between two people of the same sex is thus a watery sham of the real thing, and certainly should not be foisted on the church by the state.

16 October 2011 at 18:44  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

john in cheshire, you say that same sex marriage "can't be done under the guise of a religious service." We live in liberal and secular societies and recognize the rights of others to interpret religion in their own way. The religious services Gay people choose are not a guise from their perspective; they are genuine affairs conducted ...so far... by willing religious officials among like-minded people. We may believe otherwise, but that is up to us to clarify and argue, while respecting their right to reject or reinterpret religious traditions. The problem is when dissenters, communities, institution or individuals, are legally or administratively compelled to perform such unions, to recognize and honour them and to hold their silence under increasing threats of penalties.

16 October 2011 at 18:45  
Blogger St. Nikao said...

The best argument against same-sex marriage in Scripture is the absence of it. Nowhere is there any affirmation or approval of even sexual contact between two persons of the same sex. Everywhere it is forbidden and called an abomination.

In Romans 1, same-sex attraction is the end of a road to perdition, a journey begun with refusal to worship GOD and to live under His dominion...it goes downhill from there to homosex acts.

The rest of Romans describes the famous Romans Road, the Way back to God...and to the life of grace and truth through Jesus Christ.

16 October 2011 at 18:48  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@ David B.

I think that "marriage" is the term most readily and obviously available to describe civil unions. So in that sense, you could say that I am in favour of gay civil marriage without any linguistic restrictions.

I would however aver that for Christians, there is a fundamental aspect of the sacrament of marriage (and though I've been using "sacrament" this extends to non-sacramental theology on the more evangelical wing of the church) that marks it as having a particular spiritual dimension and is not merely a social contract.

It is ludicrous to expect those who do not share a belief in this spiritual change to abide by, or even respect this concept. The law protects the right to belief, but it does not guarantee it will implement any belief system in law.

Historically, the law of the land has upheld affirmation of religious marriage. No doubt, it is now anachronistic for many non-religious citizens. The law has also added to religious marriage the institutions of civil marriage and civil partnerships. The law recognises both types of marriage (sacramental and civil) as being legally equivalent, whilst theologically most mainstream churches only accept sacramental marriage as fully representing the institution that they believe was created by God.

At present, there are relatively few differences between civil marriages and sacramental marriages. Really the only thing I can think of (and this hardly applies universally) is that whereas a divorcee will not be barred from a civil marriage, they will be barred by some churches from a sacramental marriage. You'd probably find it easier to find Christians who regarded re-marriages as being somehow "null" in the eyes of God, not least because of the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 5:31-32).

Civil partnerships are a further step along this line. Considerably more Christians will regard this as incompatible with their concept of sacramental marriage. As I see it you have three options (feel free to exchange the semantics of partnership/union/marriage - I maintain them only for the sake of clarity):

1) Government takes no further involvement in marriage. Everyone must have a civil partnership(with an optional ceremony that can be customised) to gain the status of married couple in law. Anyone wishing to have a religious ceremony can do so, but it has no bearing in law. A logical upshot is that Muslims and Mormons can religious marry multiple times, but only the civil partnership is considered in law. Personally, I think this is the easiest option and the easiest to justify if you value freedom of belief.

2a) You roll Civil Partnerships into Civil Marriages (or vice-versa), but keep the acknowledgement in law of religious marriages (i.e. ministers can still officiate). In theory this means that religious groups can continue to defend whatever principles they hold to. Very likely, however, the involvement of state-approval of will lead (after litigation in the Supreme Court and the ECHR) to:

2b) Religious marriages must reflect equality legislation, and cannot disbar applicants who fulfil the legal criteria. In practice, many churches will likely refuse to comply, and will be disbarred as a result. De facto, this will lead to a situation similar to 1) where religious ceremonies occur privately without any legal recognition of the act. The difference, however, is that this will be as a result of the government actively intervening in the status of religious marriage. So long as it continues to recognise those religious marriages that are compatible with the law, it is selectively affirming some movements as legitimate, and others as illegitimate. It is, in other words, indirectly determining religious validity.

3) Things stay the same. Legally gay couples have access to the same rights, even if they don't have access to the same institution (though the same is true of heterosexual couples wanting to have a civil partnership). Not ideal though.

16 October 2011 at 18:53  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@tory boys...

Though you were right to pick up on my disapproval of the validity of some Quakers' theology, I didn't argue that it was their lack of dogma that made those views invalid. By very definition it is impossible to talk about "Quaker Theology" - but it is possible to talk about individual Quaker's theology. If that makes sense!

Very often - and I don't excuse myself from this phenomenon - you will be able to observe that people pick and choose the Quakers whose beliefs are most like their own. Thus, when Stephen Fry says the Quakers are admirable, you can be sure that he is not referring to the staunch traditionalists whose beliefs are quite close to what we conventionally associate with evangelical Christians.

Personally, while I am also attracted to the very Christian tenets of tolerance of difference and resistance of authoritarianism in the Quaker movement, I still can't help but observe that anyone outside the Quakers has a particular worldview or sense of morality when they agree with them. From this, I'm afraid I deduce that in general, we do tend to consider certain truths as being more valuable than contrary assertions, and that the presence and defence of dogma is not merely acceptable or necessary. My own spiritual life can probably be summed up as "How I learnt to stop worrying and love doctrine"...

16 October 2011 at 18:54  
Blogger Hazel said...

Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel - Women have only come to fore in the last 40 years. It came hand in hand with financial independence. Enjoy.

What a remarkable understanding of history you have there.

Now, obviously, "come to the fore" cannot refer to working as women have been doing this for rather some time. Or contributing to academe (more than 40 years here), or voting (more that 40 years in all but the most undeveloped of places). Hmm. I wonder, by 'come to the fore in the last 40 years' do you instead mean 'come to your attention'? I cannot think of anything else that makes sense in this context.

(The Inspector has long noted that women get very, well annoyed even emotional, when they look at their position throughout history.

Well, the thing with emotional responses is that they tend to be easy to trigger with certain types of phrases and behaviours. Please consider the possibility that you are yourself creating these responses and finding yourself in self-fulfilling-prophecy-city as a result. N.B. This is a comfortable place in that no nasty surprises occur, but it can get a little boring after a time.

St Paul of course would have expected men to look after their women, so he had their interests in his mind)

Yes, this role of protector sounds so laudable does it not? Until you realise that what women are being protected from are other men. If you assume that women are intrinsically in need of protection from the outset you can find yourself infantilising them.

A better way would be to not talk about looking after women, but instead make clear that the way to act is simply not to hurt them - or any male for that matter. We can be grown ups that way.

16 October 2011 at 18:55  
Blogger St. Nikao said...

There is also no science or social warrant for same-sex sexual relations or unions.

Police and CDC statistics, medicine and mental health practice and research studies show the problems correlated with this behavior and show the inclination to be a symptom of underlying problems in itself.

To say otherwise is to deny the evidence.

16 October 2011 at 18:55  
Blogger Hazel said...

Len

Yes, I had twigged that one :)

16 October 2011 at 18:56  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@ David B.

I'd assert no claim for any group having a specific right to any word.

For Christians, there is a fundamental aspect of the sacrament of marriage (and though I've been using "sacrament" this extends to non-sacramental theology on the more evangelical wing of the church) that marks it as distinct from civil marraiges. Very simply, that marriage is not merely a social contract.

However, I see litle point in forcing non-Christians to obey these beliefs. The law protects the right to belief, but it does not guarantee it will implement any belief system in law.

Historically, the law has upheld affirmation of religious marriage. No doubt, it is now anachronistic for many non-religious citizens. The law has also added to religious marriage that of civil marriage. The law recognises both types (sacramental and civil) as being legally equivalent, whilst theologically most mainstream churches only accept sacramental marriage as fully representing the institution that they believe was created by God.

At present, there are relatively few differences between civil marriages and sacramental marriages. Really the only thing I can think of (and this hardly applies universally) is that whereas a divorcee will not be barred from a civil marriage, they will be barred by some churches. You'd probably find it easier to find Christians who regarded re-marriages as being somehow "null", not least because of the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 5:31-32).

Civil partnerships are a further step along this line. Considerably more Christians will regard this as incompatible with their concept of sacramental marriage. As I see it you have three options (feel free to exchange the terms partnership/union/marriage - I maintain them only for the sake of clarity):

1) Government takes no further involvement in religious marriage. Everyone must have a civil partnership(with an optional ceremony) to gain the status of married couple in law. Anyone wishing to have a religious ceremony can do so, but it has no bearing in law. A logical upshot is that Muslims can religious marry multiple times, but only the civil partnership is considered in law. Personally, I think this is the easiest option and the easiest to justify if you value freedom of belief.

2a) You roll Civil Partnerships into Civil Marriages (or vice-versa), but keep the acknowledgement in law of religious marriages (i.e. ministers can still officiate). In theory this means that religious groups can continue to defend whatever principles they hold to. Very likely, however, the involvement of state-approval of will lead (after litigation in the Supreme Court and the ECHR) to:

2b) Religious marriages must reflect equality legislation, and cannot disbar applicants who fulfil the legal criteria. In practice, many churches will likely refuse to comply, and will be disbarred as a result. De facto, this will lead to a situation similar to 1) where religious ceremonies occur privately without any legal recognition of the act. The difference, however, is that this will be as a result of the government actively intervening in the status of religious marriage. So long as it continues to recognise those religious marriages that are compatible with the law, it is selectively affirming some movements as legitimate, and others as illegitimate. It is, in other words, indirectly determining religious validity.

3) Things stay the same. Legally gay couples have access to the same rights, even if they don't have access to the same institution (though the same is true of heterosexual couples wanting to have a civil partnership). Not ideal though.

16 October 2011 at 19:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

That could be the subject of another theological article: whether gender roles ought to be maintained. Arguably, we're in a bit of a political mess because women aren't maintaining homes and looking after children. There aren't enough jobs to go around, childcare is stupidly expensive, and maternity leave often messes companies up, especially small ones. Perhaps the telos of women is to be subservient to men, and not just in matters of the clergy?

16 October 2011 at 19:10  
Blogger Hazel said...

Marie

Don't men try to please their wives when they love them? Haven't they always tried to? Isn't this a characteristic of the male psyche? And in-turn the woman if the male has understood her correctly and succeeds in making her happy follows him, stays faithful to him and with him.

We all try to please people that we care about. I don't understand why you want to make distinctions between different types of pleasing. Showing care is not an exclusively male or female thing. Thankfully!

The real ruler of the house is the woman.

So you disagree with Paul?

The language has changed but the concept remains the same.

It seems to me that you are defining 'ruling' as exerting control, and furthermore, implying that control that is exerted in a covert fashion is the 'real control'. Are you not disrespecting the intellectual abilities of men by assuming that this is a) both possible and b)desirable?

Haven't you heard that behind most successful males there is a woman.

Oh yes. I have also heard the phrase "Owes his success to his first wife, and his second wife to his success." Sometimes all the pleasing in the world is not enough.

I think some women do need to be kept in line! Are you one of those feminists who are trying to emasculate men to a degree where there is no difference in the genders so that we are all the same?

Well, that is a bit of a 'Have you stopped beating your wife? type of question! However, if you are interested in my theoretical take on these matters - I would describe myself as an analytic feminist. Basically, this means that I don't deny the fact of difference in sex organs, but I see no need to stop thinking because of that. Thankfully I don't think with my sex organs, well, not all that often anyway.*

God intended there to be two very different sexes all that needed adjusting was the communication and understanding levels.

Did he not "intend" hermaphrodites then?

But, it seems men are morphing into women and women are becoming more masculine.

That depends on what you mean by both terms.

-=-=-=
* Note to self: get out more.

16 October 2011 at 19:16  
Blogger Concerned said...

There are a couple of things in this post that jumped out at me right away and I would like to address them here if I may.

1. “The problem with this model is that it not only reduces women to a status which they, thankfully, in Western society, no longer hold, but it also is completely incorrect. Paul’s model for marriage is, unsurprisingly, not ideal.” Is it Mr. Grey’s belief that cultural relevancy must take precedence over Divine Inspiration? One cannot help coming to the conclusion that the author thinks that we should pay less attention to “Thus saith the Lord” and more to what the masses say or want.

2. “With all due respect to the great Apostle, his understanding of both women and relationships was, at best, incredibly flawed.” It is most definitely believed that while the Apostle Paul did not lean unto his own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), what he wrote was most definitely “the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37) and to attack what the Apostle Paul was writing is attacking God Himself or at least His lack of understanding.
While Mr. Grey has been asked to “expound his theological thoughts on the matter” one would like to ask just exactly who’s theology is he trying to expound upon or advance if not his own? It cannot be biblical theology if he believes it to be “incorrect” or “flawed”.
Clearly Mr. Grey is trying to present a populous opinion and in order to do so he must question the veracity of Scripture if his theological wanderings are to have any traction at all.

16 October 2011 at 19:20  
Blogger Justin Brett said...

@AnonymousInBelfast:
Regarding your first post - actually I think I agree with you -
"For gay sex to be permissable, like all sex, it must be within the confines of marriage"
If homosexuals are created that way, then to deny that they are capable of marriage is to deny them the escape from sin available to heterosexuals.

16 October 2011 at 19:20  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel

The Inspector is somewhat disappointed with your response. He was not asking you to endorse the place of women throughout history, just recognise and accept it. If you can’t do that, then how can you have insight into history ? You’ll have no understanding of what it was like.

Did you know that single women were turned down for mortgages as late as the early 1980s. Maybe it should be thirty years since women came fully to the fore.

Incidentally, if we ever met, you’d find old fashioned manners and a gentle attitude to a member of the female gender. You wouldn’t get slapped on the back and a pint of beer shoved your way – we’ll leave that to the young...

Post script. Just seen you call yourself an ‘analytic feminist’ (...whatever one of those is....). Pint, my dear ??

16 October 2011 at 19:22  
Blogger Hazel said...

Dan

That could be the subject of another theological article: whether gender roles ought to be maintained.

Yes, that would be interesting. To bring this back on topic (I am conscious that I am a blog-guest here and don't want to take things too off-thread) - how about an investigation of how often 'protection of marriage' devolves into 'protection of traditional gender roles' and/or 'protection of patriarchy'.

I have noticed that more men than women seem to get agitated about it. However, I do not want to do what I asked OoIG not to do and assign 'emotional responses' to people merely due to their sex. That would not be fair.

16 October 2011 at 19:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Well, we are on a conservative-oriented blog. :)

16 October 2011 at 19:44  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel. Another university education corrupted by feminism, is the Inspector right ?

16 October 2011 at 19:47  
Blogger Hazel said...

OoIG

The Inspector is somewhat disappointed with your response. He was not asking you to endorse the place of women throughout history, just recognise and accept it. If you can’t do that, then how can you have insight into history ? You’ll have no understanding of what it was like.

I have no issue with the statement that women have been excluded from strata in society over the years - this is obviously correct. What I took issue with was the non-qualified statement that:

a) women have only 'come to the fore' in the last 40 years. This is why I provided counter-examples.

and the implications

b) that this in some way due to 'financial independence'. I did not like this one both because it implied largess and also because it is possible (although practically more difficult) to excel without the type of money that provides independence.

Incidentally, if we ever met, you’d find old fashioned manners and a gentle attitude to a member of the female gender. You wouldn’t get slapped on the back and a pint of beer shoved your way – we’ll leave that to the young...

Why do you assume that I am not young?

Pint, my dear ??

Oh my, was it was my joke about 'getting out more' that did it? You see, I am beginning to wonder if I have pulled!

Not the first time that this has happened online, (and you are only human after all) but in light of your earlier comment that...

Nowadays they seem to jump into bed after a couple of drinks.

I really must make it clear that I am up for debate only tonight. Just pretend I am a man - you'll do fine :)

16 October 2011 at 19:48  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Dodo is concerned that Ernst and Len do not miss Christ's snatching of His faithful like a thief in the night (apologies to His Grace and other communicants but the bird 'tars and feathers' outrageously)

Quick - put your houses in order!
(Roman Catholics (as described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676 and 677) and Orthodox Church, do not accept the doctrine at all, but affirm the resurrection as the catching away.) Tis your's that has gone awry -away from the expected or proper direction?

"John 14:3

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Wonder what He means, bird, like Ernst to show WHY rome is WRONG?

Further proof regarding the harpazo and for which the Lord has got FORM, shall we say!

Acts 8:39

39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away [Greek, harpazo] Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

or

2 Corinthians 12:2

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up [Greek, harpazo] to the third heaven.

or

Revelation 12:5

5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up [Greek, harpazo] unto God, and to his throne.

St Paul even says there will be believers who shall not die
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (Body of believers ONLY, not to be confused with the Remnant of Israel who are saved and numbered by Christ on His Return in the Clouds VISIBLY!
[Note: It is the Greek word "atom" which literally means "uncut." For example, an hour can be cut into 60 minutes and one minute can be cut into 60 seconds. An "atom" is a unit of time that can't be cut anymore because it is such a small unit. Thus "split-second" would be a good translation]. It shall also be "in the twinkling of an eye" (faster than you can blink, my fine fowl). This event will take place very rapidly.

2 B Cont'd

16 October 2011 at 19:58  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Cont'd Philippians 3:20-21

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Usually we think that a person must die to go to heaven. But when Christ comes He will take all living believers straight to heaven. He will do for us just what He did for Enoch!

Matthew 24

(vs.3) Tell us when will this be, and what will be the sign of your parousia and the close of the age? ... (vs.6) But the end is not yet. (vs.14) And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited land for a testimony to all nations and then will come the end. (vs.27) For as the lightning shines from the east to the west, so will be the parousia of the Son of Man. (vs.37) As were the days of Noah, so will be the parousia of the Son of Man. (vs.39)...and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the parousia of the Son of Man.

But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his parousia those who belong to him.
—I Corinthians 15:23

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting. Is it not you at the parousia of our Lord Jesus. For you are our glory and joy.
—I Thessalonians 2:19

So that he may establish your hearts blameless holiness before our God and Father, at the parousia of the Lord Jesus with all his saints.
—I Thessalonians 3:13

Be patient therefore, brethren, until the parousia. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient, establish your hearts, for the parousia of the Lord has drawn near.
—James 5:7–8

First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with mocking following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his parousia? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.” .... But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the land and its works will be discovered. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for, and hastening the parousia of the Day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved and the elements melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new land in which righteousness dwells.
—II Peter 3:3–13

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and the parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty.
—II Peter 1:16

And now, little children, remain in him so that whenever he is manifested we may have confidence and not be ashamed from him in his parousia.
—I John 2:28
Jude 23 offers us a final glimpse at this Greek word "harpazo". "And others save with fear, pulling [Greek, harpazo] them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh" (Jude 23). An emergency rescue worker pulls people out of the fire, does he not, while attempting to keep himself from also being injured. Christians have the same ministry, but towards those who are spiritually lost.
2 B Cont'd

16 October 2011 at 20:00  
Blogger Hazel said...

OoIG

None of my degrees are in Women's Studies.

-=-=-

Incidentally, I have just realised that I have been a little rude...

Archbishop Cranmer

Kudos for hosting a dissenting view.

Mr Grey

I enjoyed your clear writing style.

16 October 2011 at 20:01  
Blogger David B said...

@AiB 19.06

Thank you for your well thought out response.

I think we are not only in the same ball-park, but on the same part of the ball-park.

I agree your option 1 is most desirable.

David B

16 October 2011 at 20:02  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Brought to a conclusion

Harold Camping, (a deluded nutjob who knows nothing but spreads scorn on the Lord's promise as St Peter himself declared. He is Non Catholic, how can you link Ernst and Len to him. Simply because we are not Roman Catholic also? NON SEQUITUR, lad, It does not naturally follow! Why is he wrong

Christ is building His church (Matthew 16:18). This means that every person who is saved becomes a member of Christ’s church (see Acts 2:47; compare 1 Cor. 12:13).

Simply put If the sign outside the Hotel says VACANCY, this means that there is still room for people.
If the sign said, "NO VACANCY" this would mean that the Hotel is at full capacity and there is no more room.
Now today God has a sign that says VACANCY. God is saying this: "You are invited to be saved and to become a member of the church. There is room at the cross for you. If you believe on Christ you can be a member of the church." There is coming a day, however, when God’s church will be filled to capacity and there will be no more room for any other members. There will be a NO VACANCY sign then: "Sorry, you are too late. You cannot be a member of the church. There is no more room for you!" When the church is complete, Christ will come and take the church (the believers) to heaven. People can still be saved after the rapture, but they will not be members of the church.

When will the rapture take place? We do not know. Today? Tomorrow? Next month? Next year? It is the signs that can be known not a specific stated day, month, year!
One thing Ernst is sure of and it is that He is not coming to stay in our home. He is coming to take us to His home. We need to be ready and prepared for His coming.
When He comes we do not want to be found in the wrong place, doing wrong things, saying wrong things. Wouldn't you want Him to find you serving Him, pleasing Him, thanking Him and obeying Him? Then start considering bird!

'Wherefore comfort one another with these Words!'

Ernst 'helping the lost to get themselves found' Blofeld

ps

Ernst apologises to all but believes he has now washed the tars and feathers from his outraged body, without the use of that fine shower product available from Rome, 'Soapy Pope on a Rope' washing those sins away, day by day, likkle by likkle!

16 October 2011 at 20:04  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

len said ...

"IF you can find 'The world will now end on October 21 2011.'
in the Bible I will be most surprised as I have never come across it."


But len he has been guided by the Holy Spirit in interpreting Revelation. This is something YOU do all the time.

What's the matter, doesn't his date quite fit the one you have in mind? You have repeatedly stated we are in the "end times" and seem to be in the know. I'd appreciate it if you could get a date.

16 October 2011 at 20:05  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Len made Ernst giggle

"As you must surely be beginning to guess by now 'if it a`int in the Bible, it a`int true!"

Since when has a Biblical brickwall ever stop that strange bird driving into it at breakneck speed, like Toad of Toad Hall *Giggles*

Ernst

ps
Dodo, lad, hear your answer:

"You have repeatedly stated we are in the "end times" and seem to be in the know." Dodo, Israel had to be in the land first and in strife else why would Antichrist need to agree a peace deal for 7 years. They have been strangely invisible in the region for 1800 years until 1948! "end times" the clock started ticking, lad and you cannot hear it. Tick Tock Tick Tock!

16 October 2011 at 20:24  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Has that Hazel gone ? Didn’t she go on a bit, couldn't get a word in....

16 October 2011 at 20:39  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector

Did you fix a date with the lass? I thought she showed considerable spirit, even if she was somewhat self opinionated.

16 October 2011 at 21:18  
Blogger Atlas shrugged said...

Is the root of all evil MONEY?

Answer; you bet it is.

I have no particular objection to 'gay' civil-partnerships, or marriages, if they prefer to call them such.

However on a personal note I think they are mad. What precisely is the point of gay marriage if children are not involved? Surly the whole point of marriage is to provide a secure environment for the up bringing of children and to assist is the distribution of property, when both parents are no longer in the land of the living.

If a few thousand gay people genuinely want to ruin, or unnecessarily complicate their lives for no sensible or worthwhile reason, then so be it.

However there are related but FAR more serious questions to be asked.

Why has such an essentially minority issue taken up so much of the time and effort of so many?

Could the answer be MONEY?

What has really been the motivating force behind this issue?

Could the answer be MONEY?

Why did gay rights become a party political issue, mostly associated with the left of same, when homosexuality never did and still does not have anything to do with political ideology?

Could the answer be MONEY?

Gay people make up a tiny minority of the population, (5% at most) most of which are very quite about their sexual preferences, or for highly understandable reasons have absolutely no intention of ever getting married to anyone, never mind their same sex lover.

After all an ever growing amount of heterosexuals are electing not to have children or to get married; so why all of the fuss?

Do you seriously believe that this issue has been solely propagated by Gay people, solely for the benefit of Gay people?

Is it not at least possible that there exists extremely rich and powerful groups of exclusively MEN, that have sort to fundamentally change society for reasons that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with interests of gay people, or society as a whole?

For I contend that this is not just possible, it is the cruel truth of the matter.

It is a well documented FACT that institutions such as The Rockafella Foundation have spent/invested many millions since the turn of the last century promoting FEMINISM for ONLY two reasons.

The first was to provide a larger tax base for governments to tax, and the PRIVATELY owned central banks to use as collateral for more ever more government lending.

The second was to get children as far away from their mothers as possible, at an ever earlier age, so that the schools system could more easily indoctrinate them into corporate socialism.

Feminism was not intended to help women, or families, indeed it was intended to do the exact opposite. Therefore Feminism has been highly successful in achieving its intended aims.

Are any of you seeing a pattern here? Because IMO if you don't, you fully deserve to receive ever more of this kind of thing in the future. You will get it anyway, but your stubborn inability to accept that you have been most royally had, requires that you are destined to receive many more lessons before you finally WAKE UP.

16 October 2011 at 21:27  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Ernsty

Thank you for your answer.

Where exactly is the word "rapture" to be found in the bible?

Do you believe in postmillennialism, amillennialism, or premillennialism? And will there be a pre-tribulation, a mid-tribulation, or a post-tribulation?

This poor bird get so confused by all the protestants theories - and all interpreted with the aid of the Holy Spirit and all based on the inerrant word of God found in scripture too!

I'll stick with the Roman Catholic Catechism (amillennialism?) and with the words of St Peter:

"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. . . . Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace" (2 Pet. 3:8–14).

16 October 2011 at 22:01  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Atlas

Now you are confusing me.

Where do the Jesuits and the Vatican fit in with all this?

Surely the Catholic Church would be supporting homosexual marriage and women priests if your theory is correct?

16 October 2011 at 22:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo Did you fix a date with the lass?

Hardly, old chap. A feminist will carry the Inspector off to his final resting place within months, if the truth be known.

On the subject of feminism, have you noticed there are never ‘stunning’ feminists or even pretty ones. What you get is feminists with a weight issue, feminists who look great in dungarees, feminists who like girls and feminists who look like men. Rather interesting don’t you think.

Incidentally, Len is fast becoming Blofelds ‘old retainer’ and commode emptier. What !

16 October 2011 at 22:14  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Inspector, you clearly have not had the good luck to meet my wife then :)

16 October 2011 at 22:19  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

missed out 'feminists with a bodily hair issue'...Apologies to this numerous group

16 October 2011 at 22:21  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Thankfully not chap from Belfast, enough sadness in the world as it is, sure you’ll agree...

16 October 2011 at 22:25  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Now now old chap - my wife already fell once for an honest English fellow (hence the anonymity), she'll accept no substitutions.

16 October 2011 at 22:30  
Blogger Owl said...

Atlas,

Thank you for stating the bloody obvious!

The breakdown of the family unit has been worked on for decades and the State control (ownership?) of the children through our highly successful school system (it did what it was planned to do) is blatantly obvious to anyone caring to look at it.

Very few are watching.

There is no such thing as same sex marriage so why talk about it.

Why does "The sound of silence" echo in my head.

16 October 2011 at 22:42  
Blogger Hazel said...

OoIG

Incidentally, if we ever met, you’d find old fashioned manners and a gentle attitude to a member of the female gender.

That's nice.

On the subject of feminism, have you noticed there are never ‘stunning’ feminists or even pretty ones. What you get is feminists with a weight issue, feminists who look great in dungarees, feminists who like girls and feminists who look like men. Rather interesting don’t you think.

and

missed out 'feminists with a bodily hair issue'...Apologies to this numerous group

Guess those old fashioned manners can't weather the gentlest of brush offs and the subtlest of hints that an under-estimation might have been made.

*Shrug*

-=-=-=

Now: back on subject.

I am surprised that Galations 3:28 has not been quoted by anyone, as evidence of Paul hearing but not listening.

Come on all - it always depresses me when I have to teach scripture to Christians.

16 October 2011 at 23:01  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector

Don't forget feminists with no hair!

Should Hazel (that's a nut isn't it?) return, try this joke on her:

Q: How many women does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Just one. She holds it still and waits for the world to revolve around her.

16 October 2011 at 23:06  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hazel dear lady, we were just talking about you {INSPECTOR GULPS}

Still up at this time of night, what would the man of the house say ?

Do indicate where you come in on the the Inspector's feminist list – there’s a good gal.

16 October 2011 at 23:10  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector

Q: What would one call 5,000 feminists at the bottom of the ocean?

16 October 2011 at 23:12  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo

The Inspector always thought it took three women to change a light bulb.

One to climb up on a chair, and two others to talk about her while her back’s turned...

16 October 2011 at 23:14  
Blogger Hazel said...

Some lightbulb jokes you might enjoy Dodo.

My personal favourite:

How many Anselmists does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one is NECESSARY.

-=-=

OoIG

Quit fishing for information and instead make a coherent argument related to the topic - there's a good lad.

Come on - you can do it.

16 October 2011 at 23:19  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Hazel

Good one!

My favourites:

Q: How many charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One, since his/her hands are in the air anyway.


Q: How many Calvinists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. God has predestined when the lights will be on.


Q: How many evangelicals does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Evangelicals do not change light bulbs. They simply read out the instructions and hope the light bulb will decide to change itself.


Q: How many Atheists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: One. But they are still in darkness.


Q: How many Brethren does it take to change a light bulb?

A: CHANGE?????


Q: How many Pentecostals does it take to change a light bulb?

A: 10, one to change it and 9 others to bind the spirit of darkness.

16 October 2011 at 23:25  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Justin Brett (19.20) [managed to get your identity right this time!]

I'll admit to having sympathy for this argument. In years gone by, I would have insisted that heterosexual people could experience desire that, for whatever reason, could not be fulfilled appropriately (within marriage), and yet this did not absolve them from adherence to God's Law. Marriage, I would have said, any more than sexual congress cannot be considered a "right". On reflection, I think that my attitudes were overly influenced by a legalistic understanding of Christianity - and that the purpose of Christ's salvation was not to present a new series of rights and responsibilities, but rather to release utterly mankind from sin. I don't think that we are being honest as Christians if we view gay people as somehow constituting a special case when it comes to this. Accordingly, as I said above, the most compelling argument that I can advance on the subject is that by admitting gay people to sacramental marriage we would indeed be lifting a block to many people's faith (gay and straight).

The biggest victory, it seems to me, that Satan has won on the issue of homosexuality, is not the fabled march of the gays so often invoked by The Daily Mail, but the commonplace "truth" that being gay is mutually exclusive with being Christian. Being a sinner is mutually exclusive with being justified with God, and yet the Gospel affirms the place of prostitutes, of tax-collectors, and of thieves in the Kingdom of God through His Grace.

I often think reading the passages where Christ encounters such people that we over-simplify the encounter. To sinners Christ says "You are forgiven. Go and sin no more". When we read this in the context of the woman in adultery, no doubt most of us think that this is a rather specific command in relation to her sexual practice - but I can't help but feel that Jesus was telling her "Go and sin no more" instead of "Go and be adulterous no more". Clearly, the latter is included in the former, but in calling us to perfection, Christ casts no stone. In the same spirit, I am certain the message he would give to gay people would also be: "Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more".

Christian gay marriage is a hard hard thing to justify by Scripture. It is not at all clear that the Bible would uphold gay rights. Some will view this as a cause for breaking with the authority of Scripture (as I suspect our original poster might do). For those of us who see the logical end of such views as the redundancy of faith, there clearly needs to be a more convincing argument made that does not solve the problem by degrading the authority to which it originally appeals.

And yet, I can't help but notice that in my haste to reject legalism - to reject the relevance of gay rights to Christian doctrine - I have failed to notice how well "straight rights" have been enshrined by this debate. Because the funny thing is, that just as the Bible doesn't say much on the issue of gay rights - it doesn't say much on the issue of rights at all. In fact it makes it clear that before God we cannot claim justification. Theologically, when it comes to salvation, none of us has rights - we have only the infinite Grace of God.

I know that's probably not a very satisfactory answer. Unlike len I'm not willing to claim I can channel God authoritatively (though I do believe He's working in me bit by bit). But I do think He has given us an authoritative guide in the form of Scripture (the legitimacy of textual analysis notwithstanding).

16 October 2011 at 23:27  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Belfast

You seem to be getting in a bit of a muddle.

If active homosexual relationships are sinful then Christ would welcome the sinner but reject the sin. Surely when he told the adultress to sin no more He meant what He said i.e, stop committing adultery?

What do you think "Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more" might mean when Christ speaks to homosexuals? Not go and get married and contain your lust formen within one relationship - but stop being actively sinful, surely?.

16 October 2011 at 23:37  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Hazel - I made implicit reference to Galatians 3:28 above.

My problem is that liberal Christianity has rather taken the trend that when it comes to awkward questions of theology one can "blame Paul" rather than more closely examine the theology.

You suggest that Paul has "heard" but not "listened". I'd suggest au contraire it is we who have heard and not reflected.

It does indeed seem bizarre that some of the strongest statements for the equality of men and women come from the same person who is held up as the greatest detractor for women. I'm sure some enterprising atheist somewhere will suggest that there are in fact two authors (perhaps Philip Pullman might be commissioned to write "The Good Man Saul and the Villain Paul"). Likewise an imaginative chap like our guest writer might see this as a instance of Paul channelling God on the one hand (where it agrees with modern sensibilities) and venting his mysogynistic spleen on the other (where it offends them).

For myself, I prefer the simpler solution that if the Paul we are reading appears to have split-personalities, it is not Paul who is at fault, but our interpretation.

Very often objection to Paul's exhortion to women to lead lives of submission ignores the fact that all Christians are called to submission. The path of Christ is one of humility - and not humility in the sense of lovely charitable piety, but in the sense of being on ones knees scrubbing puke for Jesus.

A.S. Grey hasn't responded to any of my posts above (do I smell or something?), but I've advanced the argument that not only does reading the Pauline epistles with a sensitivity to Christian theology help us to "understand Paul's mind", but it actually renders the whole thing coherent.

The objectionability of Paul's writing really only stands up to scrutiny when we accept prima facie the now long-worn assertion that "of course Paul was a chauvinist, he says women should submit to their husbands". Well meaning Christians (including formerly myself), accepting these arguments, then go out of their way to accomodate Christ while repudiating Paul. Yet it doesn't say much about our faith, when that argument boils down to the point that we have from the earliest days been conned by a charismatic dinosaur.

Paul champions women. He champions equality. If anything, his arguments are more along the lines of equality than the Christ we see telling the Samaritans they will feed from Jacob's table. For Paul, there is no Jew or Gentile in Christ.

16 October 2011 at 23:46  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Dodo:

I said "Clearly, the latter is included in the former..." - so yes Christ would indeed be instructing the woman not to commit adultery. But he's also instructing her not to lie, not to profane the Lord's name. My point is that we can become so bogged down in identifying others' cardinal sins that we end up casting about for a target to launch our stones at.

Scripture makes it clear that sex is intended to be enjoyed solely within marriage (though monogamous marriage doesn't appear to catch on until a bit later on from all those chaps running around in the desert).

Christ is indeed asking people not to sin again - and this presumably must, in all but the most liberal of views, include not having sex (of whatever variety) outside of marriage. The question is not, then, whether gay sex is wrong - in the present circumstances, it is wrong. The question is whether or not Christian marriage can be extended to include same-sex monogamous relationships. I don't think this is the same as advancing the argument that those relationships have a natural parity with heterosexual ones - they are after all non-procreative. But as others have observed, a great many heterosexual marriages do not come up to the ideal either.

Scripture directs us towards a God who wants every one of us to be free from sin. The possibility that gay marriage might enable some of our brethren have their burden eased should not be dismissed lightly. Nor, should it be used as an excuse to sacrifice the integrity of our faith - Christ forgave and destroyed sin, He didn't negotiate with it. By the same token, it is undeniably clear that whatever one's orientation, gay marriage is not necessary for the salvation of gay people, but then as Paul writes, marriage is not necessary for the salvation of anyone.

As I see it, the possibility of Christian gay marriage rests on certain things being true:

a) That homosexuality is indeed not an issue of choice. I remain confused by the more vocal elements of gay activism, who on the one hand assert its innate quality, but on the other hand pursue at the level of theory a comprehensive system of "queering", not only of concepts but of people. Were homosexuality, as an orientation, to be fairly clearly understood as "natural" (in the biological sense), then it seems that the most reasonable way to read passages that refer to men being given over to perverted lusts as being censorious of the breach of control - of the revelling in lust - rather than in the imparting of the desires themselves.

b) That gay marriage can only come about by inclusion into the institution, not by a compromise of that institution. For many people, this will of course be impossible. But meditation on the issue will always be profitable - even if it results in no shift in our understanding.

17 October 2011 at 00:29  
Blogger Hazel said...

Thank you AIB, that is a great deal better. Thoughtful, clear and on-topic.

A.S. Grey hasn't responded to any of my posts above (do I smell or something?),

Maybe the guy is just catching come Zeds. Don't take it personal now :)

Paul champions women. He champions equality.

Eeek. I don't think you are correct here, but if you want to tread on that stony road due to a desire to support equality then far be if for me to stand in your way.

17 October 2011 at 00:38  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Hazel - I realise that that statement comes as a big surprise. It doesn't actually take very much interpretative footwork to arrive at it though, and even less "wishy washy liberalism" to paraphrase Mr Grey.

Rather than rehearse the arguments and so offend the good Inspector by going on so, may I recommend the following series of links?:

http://www.gci.org/church/ministry/women7

http://www.gci.org/church/ministry/women8

http://www.gci.org/church/ministry/women9

http://www.gci.org/church/ministry/women10

I found them to be not only delightfully thorough, but honest, earnest, and frank. That said, you may still take the view at the end that they are either wrong, or that the conclusions they draw are still unacceptable. I'd be interested to know your response regardless of which direction it heads in.

17 October 2011 at 00:51  
Blogger Hazel said...

AIB

I'll read the links and get back to you tomorrow (I need my Zeds as well) .Again, I don't want to take things too off-topic.

N.B. I was so intrigued by the back-and-forth earlier that I could not resist jumping in, but I should make it absolutely clear that I see no reason to base any actions (or inactions) upon biblical statements.

That said, I hope that gay marriage is recognised by all churches at some point.

This is for the simple reason that friends of mine should have access to any services that I do - whether or not I would ever choose to avail myself of them.

17 October 2011 at 01:08  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

AnonymousInBelfast

Lets be clear and unequivocal on this - active homosexual activity is a disorder and a grevious sin against God. No ifs, ands or buts. This is clear in scripture for all to see but the blind.

Do you accept the revelaton of God's will in the bible - yes or no?

Accept this and the issue becomes crystal clear.

You are advancing a moral relativism of a very peculiar and muddled type. Are some people born predisposed to homosexuality? Are some born predisposed towards bi-sexuality? Are others born inclined towards heterosexuality? Are some born predisposed to sex with children? To sex with animals?Who knows?

Some people are born, because of our fallen natures, predisposed to all sorts of weaknesses and sinful tendancies. Overcoming them, rather than succumbing to them, is our challenge - our cross. People fall, of course, and can turn to the Lord for forgiveness and strength. However, lets not pretend such behaviour is acceptable in God's eyes. It is not. To pretend otherwise is unhelpful to those caught in the vice.

The Divine purpose of sex is both procreation and the human expression of love and unity.

17 October 2011 at 01:16  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Dodo

"Active homosexual activity" - yes, I agree that as sexual congress outside of marriage, it is clearly a sin.

What I think is less clear is the reason for why it is sinful.

If it is sinful because it falls automatically outside of marriage, then it does not seem unreasonable to consider the possibility (even hypothetically) that a legitimate Christian gay marriage could remove the stigma of sin.

If on the other hand the very act (and in that case - which act? buggery? is that sinful within the confines of heterosexual marriage?) is sinful in and of itself, then yes, I'd agree that there is no possibility of reconciling the act to God.

The problem is, that not being au fait with Judith Butler (lucky them!), the various writers of the Bible didn't tend to organise their thoughts towards an ontology of sexual ethics. That's partly why I posted the link half a page above to the article which translates "abomination" as "taboo". Not because, as the author seems to intend, this somehow validates gay sex - quite clearly it still remains an activity in which Levitical priests much not engage - but because it gives a more honest rendition of why certain acts are prohibited. It is because they are taboo, rather than "abominations". Sex outside of marriage is taboo - and therefore sinful - sex within it is not. The distinction (at least in the sense that I offer it) is not to lessen the moral implications of sin, but to provide a more coherent explanation of why they are sinful than the "abomination" argument, which borders on being anachronistic (and therefore, partially misrepresentative).


I'd also not dispute the fact that people are predisposed to sinful tendencies. Human nature is, if we believe Paul, by its very nature predisposed towards sin (Romans 7:14-17). Many of the acts which we may do sinfully may be redeemed, within the proper sacramental context.

I wouldn't dispute either that the Christian ideal of sex/marriage (the two are indivisible) is "both procreation and the human expression of love and unity".

Critically though, we do not hold that the infertile cannot marry. In other words, in that specific instance, the inability of a couple to fully satisfy the ideal of marriage does not bar them from marriage.

One might observe that this provides a possible analogy with gay marriage if, and only if, the sinfulness of gay sex derives from its being beyond the confines of the marriage bed.

God is on record as having provided the blessing of children to the infertile. Clearly though, not all infertile couples are so blessed. Some have asserted that the burden of their homosexuality has been lifed by God. If that homosexuality is essentially of the same natural order as infertility (that is, it is beyond the capacity of the individual to control), I merely wonder if we are right to demand that all gay people are relieved of their orientation.

That is literally it. I have no desire to smuggle in a corruption of Christian sexual ethics by the backdoor...

[Sorry... it's late - my humour gets bluer as the hours roll by]

17 October 2011 at 01:50  
Blogger Justin Brett said...

@AnonymousInBelfast (23:27 and 01:50)
Thank you for a far more coherent account than I could manage of this particular opinion! The place where I find myself is that having accepted point a) as true as far as I can tell, I now believe that we are in a position where we need at least to look carefully at what Christian marriage actually means and is. I am not convinced that it is quite as clear cut as many conservative voices would have us believe.

Incidentally, irrelevantly, (and to me, amusingly, although that might reflect poorly on my humour) the word verification in front of me now is "delect"...

17 October 2011 at 08:51  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

A long article that has nothing new to say. Was particularly amused to read lots of exegesis (flawed exegesis IMHO) only to find that the conclusion wasn't based on any Biblical mandate at all but simply "we should allow it coz society says so and will allow people to 'celebrate their love'".

Wish he's put his conclusion in para 1, would have saved me reading the crock of shite in the middle.

17 October 2011 at 09:25  
Blogger graham wood said...

Hazel. I am impressed with your common sense approach to many of the male contributors on this blog in relation to the male/female issues which continue to generate as much heat, as light.

May I very strongly commend to you a superb small book on the issues -
'What's With Paul & Women? (Unlocking the cultural background to 1 Timothy 2) by Jon Zens.
It is written from a biblically conservative viewpoint and strongly endorses the complete equality of male and females in Christ (though recognising natural and cultural differences.
Its very readable (available from Amazon for about £7).
You will not regret a reading of this - I promise!

17 October 2011 at 09:51  
Blogger Hereward said...

Why must some theologians persist in offering fancy interpretations of scripture in a futile attempt to justify compromise with the values of modern society? Straightforward reading of the Bible offers no support whatsoever for homosexual relationships. Quite the reverse. It is not the way God wants us to live.

17 October 2011 at 10:03  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

Just as the guest blog seeks to address and reconcile the bleedn obvious (God only ever made marrioage for man and woman) and fails miserably.

Ernst has come across this reconciliation of bleedn obvious that British Gas has pledged not to raise prices this winter after raising gas and electricity prices by an average of 18% and 16% respectively in August.

The clue is in the 'after christmas', which would be useless if you want to rake it in as all the highest consumption is throughout those months hence why they put up those prices in anticipation, those nice chaps @foreignfraudsters.eu.ssr.

However Fear Ye Not as Davey boy and Chrissie 'Hissie' Huhne are on the case! *Gulping sound*

What a world of empty soundbites and blatant lying over the truth this world puts on display, daily and monotonously !

Another Mid Bleak Winter to look forward to for us elderly. A night toddy is now getting as expensive as central heating?

A dejected Ernst

17 October 2011 at 10:48  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

AIB

You really are making this more complicated than it need be.

Within marriage buggery and acts that are unfruitful (eg oral sex) are regarded as sinful according to the teaching of my church. It's not a question of them being 'taboo', although why so many societies frown on behaviours such as sodomy, incest and sex with children, points to a natural morality/conscience.

Homosexual sex has no possibility of creating human life. By definition the church sees it as disordered and sinful. Infertile couples and those too elderly to conceive are not engaging in activities that preclude the transmission of life, therefore this is not sinful.

Many of your statements are contradictory as you are trying to reconcile the irreconcilable.

"If it is sinful because it falls automatically outside of marriage, then ... a legitimate Christian gay marriage could remove the stigma of sin."

Sin is not simply a stigma. It is an offence against God and His divine purposes. Sinful acts are often stigmatised by society because people know instinctively that they are wrong.

In any event, there could never be a legitimate Christian marriage between parties of the same sex.

If ... homosexuality is essentially of the same natural order as infertility (that is, it is beyond the capacity of the individual to control), I merely wonder if we are right to demand that all gay people are relieved of their orientation."

But it is not the same at all. One we have no control over, the other is sinful and there is a choice as to whether the disodered disposition is exercised. We are not demanding anything from homosexual people. They are free, as we all are, to exercise free will. But let's not pretend to them or ourselves homosexual behaviour is consistent with Christianity or that such relationships can ever be sanctified through the sacrament of marriage.

17 October 2011 at 10:49  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

ps

"Another Mid Bleak Winter to look forward to for us elderly. " MID as in Mystery Intrigue Deceit !

Ernst

17 October 2011 at 11:06  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Pps

At least Ernst has the Christmas present of 'hot air' blown from The Tiberian Faithful to look forward to over the coming months, to help reduce his heating costs (evangelical efficiency savings)!

Ernst 'Turn down the heating Irma, we are on the papal tariff' Blofeld

17 October 2011 at 11:11  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Dodo:

Yes indeed on the issue of stigma: by linguistic bad. Disregard my use of the term.

The taboo issue seems to be summed up like this:

a) Certain (not all) acts are sinful outside of specific contexts.

b) Some of these acts can cease to be sinful within a sacramental context.

For heterosexual marriage, both a) and b) are true with regards to sex. That is - sexual congress outside of marriage is sinful, within it is blessed.

[This is a system of taboo. I'm not suggesting it is any less morally relevant as a result, nor am I deviating from the notion that sin has caused our world to be fallen. Nor am I suggesting that sin is merely cultural; I likewise hold to it being ontologically real.]

>>All I am asking hypothetically is if gay sex is sinful/taboo would it cease to be sinful/taboo within marriage?<<

However, you've already given me the answer from the Catholic side of the line, which is to define gay sex as sinful because it is, by definition, non-procreative. In other words, its sinfulness derives from its inability to produce children, which in turn excludes it from marriage, which is intended to produce life.

Broadly, I can't see any way around that. I have to say that I wasn't really envisaging the Catholic Church being the first denomination to seriously consider gay marriage - but you clearly have, even if you have ultimately rejected it.

I wonder though if the issue of infertility isn't still pertinent though. If I've understood you correctly, the deviance of active gay sex is that one knowingly engages in non-procreative acts. The issue, you appear to suggest, lies in the preclusion of procreation.

Quite clearly then, a couple who discover that they are incapable of giving birth after consummation will not fall into this category.

But what of those who know they are infertile before marriage? Wouldn't they be obligated to remain single in order to avoid knowingly engaging in non-procreative sex? Or have I misunderstood you?

If, as I assume, infertility is not a bar to marriage, the hypothetical question I asked at the beginning (>><<)still stands, as we would have a precedent for allowing exceptions on the grounds of non-procreation. We would still concede that gay sex could not occur outside of the sacrament of marriage - like adultery, and extra-marital sex it would remain in the eyes of God, sinful. But we would have to consider the possibility that its sinfulness derived from that exclusion from the act of marriage, rather than solely from its non-procreative function.

17 October 2011 at 11:23  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Ernsty

Don't worry too much, old boy. Once you thrown off this mortal coil you may find you're off to warmer climes.

17 October 2011 at 11:24  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

AIB

I repeat:

"Infertile couples and those too elderly to conceive are not engaging in activities that preclude the transmission of life, therefore this is not sinful."

That life cannot be transmitted does not make sexual union sinful.

Your concern appears to be:

"its (homosexual sex) sinfulness derived from that exclusion from the act of marriage, rather than solely from its non-procreative function.

No, no, no. Read Genesis; read Jesus' statements concerning marriage; read St Paul about homosexuality. These are not about containing lust within a sacramental setting and thereby making it acceptable. They are about God's intended purposes for man and woman and we should express love for another. It is possible to commit sexual sin within marriage by focussing exclusively on sexual gratification too!

17 October 2011 at 11:34  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Dodo the travel agent booking Ernst a ticket 17 October 2011 11:24

"Ernsty

Don't worry too much, old boy. Once you thrown off this mortal coil you may find you're off to warmer climes.
" *Chuckle*

The accomadation has been booked courtesy of Papal Airline 'SlaezyJet' and a nice little chalet lined up via Grand Inquisition Hotel??.

Ernst doubts greatly that your organisation have ABBA-TA accreditation, bird, so Ernst goes on Majestic Deals By Grace Alone. He knows where he is going then, as described in Holy Bible..He does what it says in the Book and His Word is Gospel and you can place your soul upon it!

Ta for the offer but Ernst must advise you of his previous booking aarangements.

Ernst 'Only Travels First Class' Blofeld

17 October 2011 at 11:44  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Ernsty

I think you'll find that once you arrive at check-in a place may have been assigned! We all get to the lobby, it's what happens next that counts.

17 October 2011 at 12:11  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Dodo: I shall consider your comments. I suspect you may be right that in fixating on the definition of sinfulness, I have overlooked the positive intentionality behind the sacraments as a means of securing God's plan for Creation.

I will however observe that whilst the sacraments are not intended to merely "licence" behaviours, there is no question that they are given to the Church as a means of drawing us into a state of Grace, and as a way of blessing the Church as a whole. Clearly though, not all sacraments are intended for all people. My gut reaction, however, is still that it is better to pursue the possibility that the sacrament of marriage may be open to same-sex couples without requiring an alteration of the sacrament. I think I've got something wrong somewhere - but I don't think I've necessarily been wrong to test the notion.

If I'm honest though, I can't forsee the Catholic Church implementing gay marriage under any circumstances. Being of an ecumenical mind (sorry Dodo, close though I am to Rome, I cannot in good conscience cross the Tiber), it occurs to me that it may be possible for some traditions to more easily engage with this issue. I'm not suggesting that those that don't are wrong not to do so; just that I hold to the view that the Church is blessed in its broadness (though must be steadfastedly discerning).

17 October 2011 at 12:37  
Blogger Hazel said...

AIB

That said, you may still take the view at the end that they are either wrong, or that the conclusions they draw are still unacceptable. I'd be interested to know your response regardless of which direction it heads in.

Thank you, I have read your links. They were clearly written, but marked by constant struggling and reaching. Whenever, a difference was demanded in female actions e.g. head covering/teaching/even opening one's cake-hole out of turn, then the author generally either:

a) makes the case that Paul didn't mean all the time - so it doesn't count.

b) says that Paul was giving a temporary injunction - so it doesn't count.

c) says that Paul working within the mores of the times - so it doesn't count.

When desperate he either brings in extra speculations concerning the actions of individual women at the time or, when really stressed, says that not enough information has been given to make an assessment.

It simply doesn't work. Paul made many distinctions between the sexes in relation to what power they could exert and have access to, how they should behave and what credence could be given to their statements.

You (and the author) can argue that he was actually egalitarian by using the methods above if you wish. However, I would point out that not once could I find an instance of the author having to explain away a difference between the sexes that placed men at a disadvantage; reduced their access; reduced their speech; reduced the credence that their statements were given; reduced their status, or placed them on a lower rung of the hierarchical ladder.

The explaining is all one way. This in itself indicates a serious problem for the author.

N.B. I would be quite happy for this to work, but it does not. The misogyny and discrimination is in there I am afraid, and it is not going away.

Paul was wrong about many, many things. OK, admittedly he wasn't wrong about wine being good for one's upset stomach, but generally speaking he got it wrong.

Anyway, thank you for the interesting links.

17 October 2011 at 12:46  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Dodo trying to change Ernst's exclusive Travel Agent arrangements..saying Rome has his 'a priori'17 October 2011 12:11

"Ernsty

I think you'll find that once you arrive at check-in a place may have been assigned! We all get to the lobby, it's what happens next that counts.

"
Think you will find only adherents that believe that nonsense are included. It's a papal devotional thing of which Ernst is not one!

Majestic Deals By Grace Alone send a personal representative to ensure that their's arrive at the right place!

Ernst 'no ta' Blofeld

ps

Make sure you have banked enough 'indulgences', lad, it's a long way up! *Chortling crazily*

17 October 2011 at 12:56  
Blogger Hazel said...

Graham

Hazel. I am impressed with your common sense approach

Thank you, I appreciate that - and the book recommendation.

It is written from a biblically conservative viewpoint and strongly endorses the complete equality of male and females in Christ (though recognising natural and cultural differences).

Well there is "equal" and there is "separate but equal", if this is indeed written from a biblically conservative viewpoint, then I would expect some complementarism in there. Which would put me in the "separate but equal" category.

Not my thing at all. :) Life is too short to try to make the unworkable work.

17 October 2011 at 12:58  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Hazel

Read Genesis and try "equal but different".

"And the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise of pleasure, to dress it, and to keep it."

"And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself."

"And Adam said: This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man."

Adam, given dominion, with Eve as his helpmate. Different gender roles with different responsibilities.

17 October 2011 at 13:17  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Ernsty

You be careful you're not already on a downward spiral with a yawning chasm waiting to engulf you. Use the parachute, return to earth and reconsider the flight plan.

17 October 2011 at 13:22  
Blogger Preacher said...

IMO we should listen to Avi's earlier submission & learn from our own experience.
Much legislation that has been presented as an attempt to be fair to minority groups has backfired & been used to gag freedom of speech to those whose views differ from those of these groups. In fact the law has been used in an aggresive way to persecute & prosecute those that dare to hold the opinion that some practices constitute what the Bible calls sin.
If people want to disobey God's law, that's their choice, but all the legislation in the World will neither alter it or justify it in in Gods eyes.
The Bible is written simply to be read by simple people, to direct them to redemption & salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It has been attacked for aeons in an attempt to silence its voice to mans conscience & it has & will survive us all.
Accept or reject its message, you can not twist it or alter it to suit your desires. It is above ALL mens laws & statutes & the law makers & governments are subject to it.
Learn the lesson. God did not ask mans opinion about the fate of Sodom & Gommorah.

17 October 2011 at 13:28  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Hazel

I think the point that document would make is that there is a difference between the roles that men and women play in the Church, and the concept of equality before Christ. Thinking about Church leadership in terms of democratic representation (i.e. rights of access) is missing the point - because theologically, leadership is a calling to further and deeper service, not a recognition of increased power.

What I think the document does quite compellingly is to make the case that Paul's use of submission needs to be understood sensitively rather than as indicative of his imputing culturally normative assumptions of female inferiority. In the Pauline epistles, submission is closer to a willing engagement in humility and a conscious taking on of a position of inferiority as a means of not only demonstrating love, but also as a means of overturning worldly hierarchies that impose rather than voluntarily adopt humility. Of which patriarchalism is surely an example.

In effect, wives submit to their husbands in Paul's writing not because they are inferior, but because they are Christians fully engaged in emulating Christ. Nor does the act of submission imply they are admitting to being inferior. Note also wives submitting to husbands =/= women submitting to men.

In the vast majority of Paul's writing there is no difference afforded to men & women. Read through 1 Corinthians and you'll notice that virtually every command that is given to women is given in exactly the same formulation to men.

The analogical writing does produce differences. I'm not inclined to read this as indicative of an about turn on the part of Paul though - but rather as a theological necessity when discussing God. In analogical instances, Paul cannot use the same grammatical equality as he does elsewhere because it would confuse his portrayal of God. Si Hollet (@14.30) makes an excellent point about where this thinking leads to theologically. Indeed this is precisely the moment where men are placed on the "lower rung of the hierarchical ladder"; not in relation to women, no but in relation to Christ.
Consider though for a moment what this logically implies: Paul's vision of marriage is modelled on his vision of the Church. If his assigning of submission to women is indeed indicative of inferiority - then in assiging the correlating position to the Church, male Christians are feminized, which seems bizarre of someone who would stick with the idea that gender is divine in origin. If instead, we read these terms (submission/obedience) not as being prescriptive, but rather as concepts that expand the meaning of Christian theology on examination, we have a reading that is far more coherent with Paul's normal mode of being explicitly egalitarian.

Your assessment of a), b), and c) is precisely the reason, when taken with the entire body of Pauline literature that I find the articles to be so convincing. If Paul had constantly exhorted strength and superiority, of abasement at the feet of an autocratic Christ, then indeed the submission of wives could only reasonably be understood as mysogynistic. The very fact that such deviations from his writing are numerically the exceptions rather than the rule, inclines me to believe that they are indeed specific and need to be read with reference to the greater body of Pauline works (and also of Scripture). When we focus exclusively on those instances, they dominate the picture.

Now a proviso: the idea that equality in Christ makes Paul a feminist is indeed untrue. Nor is he arguing for absolute or biological parity across the genders. I know that for many feminists this will remain tantamount to discrimination. In this instance, yes the issue is "not going away"; but I'd aver that in this instance we have arrived at a point where the two philosophies are going separate ways.

Thanks for replying though. I hope you don't feel I wasted your time too much.

17 October 2011 at 13:32  
Blogger Hazel said...

We evolved Dodo.

This means that there was no Adam and Eve suddenly magicked into existence (sans rib or no). Genesis is a just-so story.

17 October 2011 at 13:33  
Blogger St. Nikao said...

Hazel, You place yourself outside of the authority of God and Scripture, and do not choose to follow them.

However, the Church does see the Commandments and the Way of Truth, Love and Life described in as redemptive and beneficial and the most excellent way to live.

The secularists and heathen both those inside and outside the Church do not have the right to change the Church, Scripture and 4000 years of Judeo Christian teaching. Nor do you have the right to ignore the obvious science and clinical evidence that shows the practice of pansexuality is not beneficial to the individual or society.

17 October 2011 at 14:00  
Blogger St. Nikao said...

Further, to ignore science research and evidence in medicine, CDC statistics and promote what is unhealthy, even deadly, in the government, church and schools makes a person or group morally and legally culpable.

Those who do so, are looking for a heap big class action suit someday. A group of young men who were told they were 'gay' will someday sue the you know what out of some lawmakers (and hopefully the churches) for promoting the whole concept of 'gay is ok' and condoms are all you need to protect yourself and your playmates.

17 October 2011 at 14:05  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Hazel

Maybe evolution - but under divine direction and intelligent direction, surely?

Genesis is the basis of Paul's later teachings. To understand him you have to understand it. It is more than a "just-so story" if you are a Christian. Are you or does your analytic feminism rule the bible out?

The bible is not just another sexist, androcentric system of human philosophy. It is the word of God. Understanding it requires more than pursuing truth by searching for human notions of logical consistency, objectivity, rationality and justice.

There's no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his purpose and vocation. However, any theory of evolution that provides a materialistic explanation for the human soul and God's ordinances is a "No, no":

"Theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man."
(Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II, 1996)

Humans, in Benedict XVI words, are "not the products of chance and error", and "the universe is not the product of darkness and unreason; it comes from intelligence, freedom, and from the beauty that is identical with love."

17 October 2011 at 14:17  
Blogger Hazel said...

AIB

Thinking about Church leadership in terms of democratic representation (i.e. rights of access) is missing the point - because theologically, leadership is a calling to further and deeper service, not a recognition of increased power.

I wish that the (male) Bishops in the House of Lords thought that way. The thing is church leadership is a power relationship.

In the Pauline epistles, submission is closer to a willing engagement in humility and a conscious taking on of a position of inferiority as a means of not only demonstrating love,

This assumed submission is a unitary phenomenon, I would say that things are more complicated than than. For example, we can all be in a submission relationship to the CO of a company, but this submission relationship will be different for the Chief Accountant and the TeaLady. Hah! I am afraid that Ephesians 5: 23-24 puts me most in mind of the class sketch.

... but also as a means of overturning worldly hierarchies that impose rather than voluntarily adopt humility. Of which patriarchalism is surely an example.

Come on!

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

What part of that is not an imposition? Does Paul sound particularly humble here?

Consider though for a moment what this logically implies: Paul's vision of marriage is modelled on his vision of the Church. If his assigning of submission to women is indeed indicative of inferiority - then in assiging the correlating position to the Church, male Christians are feminized, which seems bizarre of someone who would stick with the idea that gender is divine in origin.

Again, I must refer you to the class sketch. Submission is not a unitary phenomenon. In fact, for many, submission is only made bearable by the thought that others must submit that much further.

Your assessment of a), b), and c) is precisely the reason, when taken with the entire body of Pauline literature that I find the articles to be so convincing.

I don't really know what to say to that! For me it demonstrated one big example of begging the question. I fear that we will not be agreeing any time soon. However that is fine - the discussion has been interesting nonetheless.

As I said before, I do think it a 'good' if Paul could be less of a barrier to people's happiness. I suppose it ultimately makes no difference if he is reinterpreted into meaninglessness or simply ignored.

I hope you don't feel I wasted your time too much.

Not at all :)

17 October 2011 at 14:23  
Blogger Hazel said...

Dodo

Maybe evolution - but under divine direction and intelligent direction, surely?

To paraphrase - I have no need of that hypothesis.

Are you or does your analytic feminism rule the bible out?

Interesting question. Analytic feminism (and analytic philosophy generally) is about seeking logical consistency. So, while not directly ruling it out, it does put the bible in trouble way before the question of the existence of a god (or gods) even arises.

The bible is not just another sexist, androcentric system of human philosophy. It is the word of God. Understanding it requires more than pursuing truth by searching for human notions of logical consistency, objectivity, rationality and justice.

Are you a Catholic or a Lutheran, Dodo?

However, any theory of evolution that provides a materialistic explanation for the human soul and God's ordinances is a "No, no":

There isn't a materialist explanation for the human soul for the simple reason that there is no evidence for us having them. From my earlier link:

How many Analytic Philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?
None-its a pseudo-problem...light bulbs give off light (hence the name)...if the bulb was broken and wasn't giving off light, it wouldn't be a 'light bulb' now would it? (oh, where has rigor gone?!)


I made it clear some time back that I see no reason for basing any actions (or inactions) upon biblical statements and was drawn in by the back and forth alone. I am also sympathetic to the goal of including people who wish to publicly express same sex love and commitment in all areas of society.

Come now, Dodo. Haven't you ever met an atheist who has read the bible before? We do exist you know :)

17 October 2011 at 14:49  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Dodo reveals an OCD Condition?

"Ernsty

You be careful you're not already on a downward spiral with a yawning chasm waiting to engulf you. Use the parachute, return to earth and reconsider the flight plan."

It appears yoyu suffer from that RC Condition called Last Word Syndrome. *Guffaws loudly*

Ernst will now allow you to have it, as he cares greatly for the afflicted in mind and emotion!

Ernst 'keep taking the tablets from the Vet' Blofeld

17 October 2011 at 15:18  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Ernsty

Good man - it's always good to conclude a discussion.

17 October 2011 at 15:39  
Blogger Preacher said...

These new laws remind me of the man who bought a 'cute' baby lizard. it grew & grew until the day his granny disappeared, then about teatime he went too.
Moral: From cute baby Lizards, Big Crocodiles grow.

17 October 2011 at 16:05  
Blogger len said...

Dodo reveals an OCD Condition?

Obsessively compulsive Duck?.

17 October 2011 at 17:53  
Blogger Jon said...

I believe Atlas at 21.27 said that money was the root of all evil.

Since this is a conservative blog, and I know how Tories love personal responsibility, I thought I'd point out that the quote is actually that it's the love of money, not money itself that's the thing.

That's ok though - because it's not like the catholic church or CoE REVELS in it's vast accumulated wealth at all...

Just remember Dodo, it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for the pope to sell his golden palace and his fancy frocks and give the proceeds to the poor.

Mr Grey, though I know I'm in the minority here, I wanted to thank you for your article. It has certainly enlightened me, and wanted to thank Mr Cranmer for having the good grace to host it.

17 October 2011 at 19:01  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Jon

The ‘eye of the needle’ was the archway at the end of a street. Camels (...for a reason unknown to the Inspector...) didn’t like the idea of going through the arch, so had to be cajoled.

Thought you should know that, dear fellow...

17 October 2011 at 19:17  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Jon

So glad you’re concerned about the poor. Ask your employer about GAYE. You can donate, let’s say 10%, of your gross salary to charity, AND there's tax relief. How can anyone like you resist that !!

17 October 2011 at 19:28  
Blogger Jumped Up Chimp said...

It's just been alleged that the Catholic Church in Spain is guilty of taking about 300,000 babies from their mothers, telling them their baby was dead, and then selling the babies on.
That comes amid the ongoing scandal of widespread sexual abuse of children around the world by Catholic priests.
Any other organisation would have done the decent thing and closed itself down after the revelation of such atrocities. (Look at what News International did after a scandal that is almost utterly insignificant by comparison.) Yet not only has the Catholic Church not considered doing anything of the sort, but, quite astoundingly, it still considers itself to be the highest bastion of morality, and fit for meddling in the personal lives of people who aren't even members of the church. Audacity isn't anywhere near a strong enough word.
Why can so few people grasp this outrage. If you ever need an example of how religion is a virus that poisons ration minds, here it is on a plate.

17 October 2011 at 20:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Chimp

The Inspector has heard this too. A full investigation is needed, and the findings to be published in the public arena. Remember, the Catholic Church is not for paedophile priests or baby smugglers. The truth must out.

17 October 2011 at 21:23  
Blogger David B said...

@OoIG 21.23

Apparently it is for peodophile priests, and baby smugglers, not to mention fascist and nazi dictators.

There are reports today of such a priest who has jumped bail, and reports (unsubstantiated) that he is holed up in the Vatican.

It is people who want to ordain women, or save the lives of women at the cost of unborn babies who are not expected to live anyway that the Catholic Church is not for. Along with those who are prepared to accept homosexual marriages.

That the Catholic Church has the temerity to claim to be some sort of moral guardian, on its flock and dissenters alike, would be laughable, were it not tragic that some people still defend it.

It is hard to see those who do not walk away from it as other than morally challenged.

David B

17 October 2011 at 22:34  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector

The tragedy is that the Spanish Authorities have decided against a full public enquiry into this scandal.

Like you, I firmly believe those responsible must be held accountable.

It appears to have been a well thought-out operation that involved the collusion of a considerable number of people in hospitals.

Without the full facts the details of the secret network of nurses, doctors, priests and nuns will not be known, nor will the extent of the knowledge of this shocking practice by the Church hierarchy.

Once again, the Church is being damaged by the actions of its members and no doubt its enemies will use this to discredit it further and to clamour for Benedict's blood.

17 October 2011 at 22:54  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Hazel asked ...

"Come now, Dodo. Haven't you ever met an atheist who has read the bible before? We do exist you know :)"

I have indeed. The worse sort in my opinion because they either misrepresent or misunderstand it. As I pointed out, there is reading and then there Is "reading" the bible.

Ps
What's a Lutheran? Are they some sort of cult?

17 October 2011 at 23:54  
Blogger David B said...

@ Dodo

Or, then again, perhaps we understand it all too well.

David B

18 October 2011 at 00:29  
Blogger Jon said...

Inspector, thank you for your advice, but I already have my plans in place in that area. As a relatively wealthy human in a time of continued suffering, the forest of trees in my own eye is something I'm well aware of.

Neither you, nor Dodo has address the underlying point though - which is how an organisation dedicated to storing up treasure in heaven has managed to accumulate a staggering amount of wealth on earth?

I'm not saying I want St Peter's demolished - I've yet to visit it and understand that it's stunning. It's just that I don't understand why an organisation which was called to be different is behaving like a sovereign wealth fund. Just which sovereign are they serving?

18 October 2011 at 11:04  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Jon

Vatican City is a Free State as well as the seat of the Bishop of Rome. It maintains embassies around the world and receives diplomatic visitors and Heads of State. I'm not sure loaves and fishes would suffice in the circumstances.

The Roman Catholic Church is the longest surviving institution on our planet (as it should be) and has amassed a wealth of hidden literary treasures apart from purely material wealth.

The question really is whether the Pope lives an extravegant lifestyle. I don't think so. How does the Vatican spend it money? I don't see fast cars, lavish holidays, luxury villas in exotic far away places.

The Archbishop of Westminster isn't exactly living on poor street, nor the Patriarch of Constantinople. So, the Vatican has money. Big deal!

18 October 2011 at 11:42  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

David B

I'm not sure its for an aggressive atheist to comment of the affairs of any religion or church. Do go away and concentrate on the banks and corporations that are a greater burden and drain on the poor.

18 October 2011 at 11:48  
Blogger C.Law said...

Dodo, you have obviously heard of the principle of 'the best defence is offence': unfortunately for you it's not working in this case.

As you point out, the Church (in whichever guise) has been a very great burden and drain on the poor for a very long time. For many people the obscene wealth of the Church is, indeed, a big deal.

18 October 2011 at 17:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Chimp: "Yet not only has the Catholic Church not considered doing anything of the sort, but, quite astoundingly, it still considers itself to be the highest bastion of morality, and fit for meddling in the personal lives of people who aren't even members of the church." (my emphasis)

Well, quite.

18 October 2011 at 17:50  
Blogger David B said...

@Dodo

I am sure that it is the right of anyone to comment on terrible immoral actions, whether they come from the Scientologists, the JWs, Islam, those who leech on the ignorant and vulnerable, like those who purvey quack medicines, or who claim to be talking to the dead.

And the Catholic church, for the cover up of priestly sex abuse, for the to all intents and purposes slavery of the unfortunate victims of the laundries, and now for the alleged theft of babies, and the lying to their mothers by telling them that the kids have died.

I do not prejudge, but I shall watch the programme tonight.

The silence of good men, and all that.

I note that you avoid addressing any of my points, and can't help but wonder if it is because you can't.

David B

18 October 2011 at 17:51  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

C. Law

Very clever ... the inclusion of an inappropruiate "er" and you leap in. How is the wealth of the Church 'obscene' and where today is it a burden and drain on the poor?

As I said, go and concentrate on the real institutions that crush the poor - global bankers, corporate businesses and the insurance, legal and state machinery that support them. Or are you a part of this corrupt system?

18 October 2011 at 17:52  
Blogger Jon said...

Come off it Dodo, surely you can see the crushing inconsistency between the Church's alleged mission and its massive wealth? Or is your allegiance to your institution greater than your allegiance to your Lord and Saviour? Can you even comprehend that they may be not consistent?

And your best defence of this wealth is basically that they have to serve a decent dinner to Robert Mugabe when he comes for the body and blood of Christ?

I pity you and the compromises you have had to make to see the world as you clearly do. But not as much as I pity those poor catholics tithing to keep Mugabe in the best tea the Vatican can afford.

18 October 2011 at 18:17  
Blogger len said...

Bankers' best guesses about the Vatican's wealth put it at $10 billion to $15 billion. Of this wealth, Italian stockholdings alone run to $1.6 billion, 15% of the value of listed shares on the Italian market. The Vatican has big investments in banking, insurance, chemicals, steel, construction, real estate.

One day a young ruler came to Jesus and fell on his knees before him. He said, "Good teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?"

Jesus told him to keep the commandments. "Which ones?" the man asked.

Jesus started quoting some of the 10 commandments; "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother."

Then he mentions a commandment, not one of the 10 commandments, but one from the book of Leviticus, "Love your neighbor as yourself." In Leviticus 19:18 the people were told to not seek revenge, or to bear a grudge against one of their people, but instead they were to love their neighbor as they loved themselves.

The young man said he had kept all these commands from the time he was a boy. He had lived a good life. The Bible says that Jesus looked at him and loved him, but Jesus looked into the man's heart and saw something that was keeping him from becoming a follower.

Jesus told him that he still lacked one thing; he must sell the things he owned and give the money to the poor. Then he would have treasure in heaven, and he could follow Jesus.

The young man's face fell and he sadly went away because he had great riches that he would not part with.

18 October 2011 at 18:28  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Jon (18 October 2011 11:04)

Now an intelligent man like you should know the answer; perhaps you do and are just being awkward.

The wealth of the RCC, the CoE and any other religious organisation, is held in trust, to spread The Word to the coming generations. You might have a point if the wealth was obvious, eg vestments dripping with 22 carat, but no ostentatiousness there or anywhere else really. And has it occurred to you where the wealth came form ? From individuals, and freely given. It could be argued by some starving family living in a Calcutta rubbish dump that it’s somewhat unfair that you live like a prince compared to them. But with our ‘eye of needle’ explained, no need to lose sleep over it.

David B (17 October 2011 22:34)

‘Forgiveness’ plays a big part of Christian churches. Once a rogue cleric asks for this, it compromises the church. Of course when civil laws have been broken, the church must co-operate with those authorities. As a Catholic, the Inspector appreciates this and also your criticism. Incidentally, some feminists put it out that all men are potential rapists, on the grounds that men rape women. Doesn’t demean you as a man does it – neither does the Inspector allow it to demean him.

18 October 2011 at 18:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Len you fraud. Haven’t parted with your PC to follow Jesus, the Inspector notes. Would feed an African village for a week, don’t you know...

18 October 2011 at 18:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "But with our ‘eye of needle’ explained, no need to lose sleep over it."

Certainly not in a duck down duvet and luxury feather bed, for sure.

18 October 2011 at 19:09  
Blogger len said...

OoIG,

You first !.

18 October 2011 at 19:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Len. Rather quick reply for you. You normally clear everything through Mr Blofeld first. What !

In answer to your retort, the Inspector has no problem with wealth. And he’s rather grateful that providence didn’t allow him to be born among the dirt poor. There’s God for you...

18 October 2011 at 19:21  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. The Inspector is not envious – not if there’s another man under there with you !

18 October 2011 at 19:23  
Blogger len said...

OoiG,


My blogging is interspersed with going to work, some of us have lives apart from blogging ,don`t you know old bean.

Rather ironic that the 'Son of Man' had nowhere to lay His head, but Papa sits on a golden throne, bedecked with gold and wears prada,says it all don`t you think?.
Jesus said you cannot serve two masters, rather obvious which one Papa`s serving.

18 October 2011 at 19:34  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Len. The Inspector too has to earn his corn, so (...usually...) no daytime postings from him during the week.

If you’re UK based and going to work, you are not a ‘Rent Boy’ are you ??

18 October 2011 at 19:41  
Blogger len said...

OoiG ,
Why are you looking for one?

18 October 2011 at 19:52  
Blogger David B said...

@OoIG

"‘Forgiveness’ plays a big part of Christian churches. Once a rogue cleric asks for this, it compromises the church."

It does, but sometimes selectively and sometimes, I suggest, unwisely. The forgiving of men who go on to repeat offend in other places, and the forgiving them again, without apparently any thought given to those they may, and often have, abuse(d) in future was, I think unwise.

From what I credibly read there was little sign of forgiveness for terrible crimes like bedwetting in the laundries - no, it was assault and, not to put too fine a point on it, torture. Forgiven of course, again and again, if even beating up a kid was considered important enough to confess.

"Of course when civil laws have been broken, the church must co-operate with those authorities."

I am glad to see you say that. It doesn't seem to be the universal view if the hierarchy of the RCC, though. Wasn't there some French Archbish who comparatively recently congratulated a priest for risking jail to avoid such co-operation? Wasn't there some Irish Papal Nuncio not prepared to co-operate? has the Vatican co-operated with the Irish inquiries?

"As a Catholic, the Inspector appreciates this and also your criticism."

Thank you. I hope you will also appreciate my further criticism in this post

"Incidentally, some feminists put it out that all men are potential rapists, on the grounds that men rape women."

So I understand

"Doesn’t demean you as a man does it – neither does the Inspector allow it to demean him."

It does not indeed demean me, nor you.

However, if I were to defend rapists, move rapists on to other places with no apparent concern about whether they rape other women, if I were to threaten those who have been led from childhood to believe me, that they would be excommunicated and condemned to eternal flames if they said anything about the accusation, then, though not a rapist myself, then that would demean me.

And - and I hope you will seriously consider this, my opinion is that if I were to support an organisation that treated rapists and their victims as I describe about, then that would demean me too.

David B

18 October 2011 at 20:08  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David B. Your post read and considered. If there is a criticism to be made about the RCC, it’s that it is TOO forgiving. So agreed, the organisation needs to clean up it’s act. Perhaps the Vatican can introduce an ‘Office of Inspector General’ to look into infringements of it’s rules and the laws of whatever state it operates in. Not going to easy though. With 1 billion adherents, new bad apples are joining the clergy as this reply is posted. Lets hope this blog comes to the notice of someone who can do something about it.

18 October 2011 at 21:10  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector and David B

The Catholic Church has introduced child protection procedures and each parish now has an independant and trained child abuse coordinator to whom all concerns are referred. It is clearly stated policy to involve the civil authorities when any suspicion or allegation of abuse arises regardless of the priest's or bishop's wishes.

An issue that cannot be resolved is when a perpetrator of a crime, be it a priest of a lay person, confesses during the sacrament of reconciliation. This can never, under any circumstances, be disclosed to anyone and priests have been martyred rather than commit such a sacrilege.

The Church made mistakes - it's expressed sorrow and it's learned from them.

len

Jumping on the back of an attack on Catholicism again. How predictable. How boring.

Er, and by the way, Roman Catholics are not obliged to 'tithe' dear chap. Do keep up. We are under no such obligation. This is a protestant practice - no doubt demanded somewhere in the bible.

It seems to me to be the protestant cults that are obsessed with mammon - not the Church of Rome.

The parable you quote has a deeper meaning. Are you really unable to fathom it's core message? If so you really do have a shallow understanding of the message of the Gospel.

Jon

Did Jesus ever attack the wealth of the High Priest? Did He rage against the wealth of the Temple? No.

The anger He vented centred on the exploitation of the poor by the illicit methods used to raise money - money lenders and those refusing animals for sacrifice.

Was the Ark of the Covenant made out of MDF? Was the Temple of Solomon a prefabricated building?

It's the love of money, the holding of wealth for pleasure, placing it at the cenre of one's life that is sinful. The proper use of money is commendable.

Wealth, in and of itself, is not an issue at all. If the Vatican gave everything it owned away tomorrow would it remove world poverty? Better to use it to spread Christ's message and to maintain the Church and it's world wide network.

19 October 2011 at 00:23  
Blogger Jon said...

Dodo - Perhaps it's in the Catholic history books that Jesus lavished the disciples with a multi billion dollar swiss bank account in order that they could ensure that they spread the message more effectively?

How much money did Jesus have? How many documents did he have in hermetically sealed environments? How many renaissance art works did Paul need to spread the Gospel? I thought you guys had the Holy Spirit for that?

When you talk about your institution, I'm reminded of Al Pacino's speech at the end of "Scent of a woman". Whatever spirit there is here, it's gone. Your whole church has become hermetically sealed!

I'm not bothered by the wealth of the catholic church per se. I don't mind other people's wealth and admire those who can create it. I do mind being lectured to about my life and morality by Vatican LLP, the world's oldest and least selective private equity fund.

19 October 2011 at 10:46  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Jon

"I'm not bothered by the wealth of the catholic church per se. ... I do mind being lectured to about my life and morality by Vatican LLP, the world's oldest and least selective private equity fund."

Oh, I think you are bothered! Do you really imagine 12 Apostles could have transformed the world without some structure, organisation and shared vision? The Holy Spirit requires the cooperation of individuals and effort on their part. At least that's what my faith informs me.

The Church 'lectures' no one. It simply speaks to whoever chooses to listen. Your life and your morality is your own affair. However, it is the Church's mission to teach the way God wants us to live. Then it's up (or down) to you to exercise your God given free will.

19 October 2011 at 12:43  
Blogger David B said...

Dodo said

"The Church 'lectures' no one. It simply speaks to whoever chooses to listen."

Hardly 'simply speaks', there is rather more to it than that, I think.

If it simply spoke then I would have no more problem with it than I have with David Icke simply speaking and writing his nonsense. I'd think it sad that some people get taken in by it, but hey ho.

No, the Church does not simply speak, it does a lot more than that.

I'll leave you to work out if and when these practices have ended, but among other things it, and or its tools, does or has, in no particular order:-

Killed dissenters.

Proscribed books, including the Bible.

Threatened abused people who have been indoctrinated into believing it that if they don't keep quiet about then they are doomed to everlasting flames.

Used such influence as it has to interfere with the private lives of all people, not just their flock, by pressurising governments to ban contraception. Causing in the process innumerable deaths from AIDS. And keeping innumerable people in dire poverty.

Channeled money away from charitable purposes from which they were given to boost the funds of the Vatican.

Stolen children and lied to them and their parents at the behest of fascist dictators it has supported, and to take children away from people it has deemed unsuitable to bring them up.

Continually attempted to hide truths to avoid scandals.

Refused to co-operate with secular governments concerned about crimes committed.

The list goes on.

No, it doesn't 'simple speak to whoever chooses to listen'.

It does more than that, far more.

I reaffirm, in different words, my conviction that those who defend it have had their moral sensibilities compromised by it.

Did you see that documentary last night?

How you can have the gall to say that it 'simply speaks' defeats me.

David B

19 October 2011 at 14:04  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

David B

What a tirade of unsubstantiated nonsense! Your considered and erudite summation of 2000 years of Church history. Objective, informed, considered?

I did see last night's documentary from the font of all truth and wisdom the BBC.

Here's what I posted earlier to another who is rejoicing on the latest scandal to befall the Church. I'm sure we'll hear later from others.

DanJ0

Truthfully, I really don't believe these cases reflect oppression by the Catholic Church at an institutional level or that the the Vatican was knowing complicit.

They speak more about facist regimes and structures that run on fear and the brutal intolerance of opposition.

Franco's conception of society was military. He saw himself as the one designated to save Spain from the chaos and instability visited upon the country by the evils of parliamentary democracy and political parties.

Certainly the Catholic Church supported Franco's fight against what they saw as atheistic, anarchistic communists. Did they go further?

Franco was raised as a Catholic but saw no contradiction in this with wanton murder. He was wrong! There is much in the way of accusation that the Church approved of and even encouraged mass murder of the enemies of Catholicism but what real evidence?

Franco's 'National Movement' was not a political party, and had no overt ideological basis. Its membership included monarchists, Falangists, conservative Catholics, members of the armed forces, business groups, technocrats and civil servants. There was overlap among these groups but they had distinct, contradictory interests. Franco fused them together as he was particularly skillful in manipulating groups - including the Church.

Today Spain is democratic and secular. A good thing, you'll say. And it is good too that people have liberty and are able to exercise freedom of choice.

Franco damaged Catholicism in Spain and no doubt this latest scandal will be used by the Church's enemies to harm the it further.

On the down side, as I see it, as a Christian, is the fact that:

- Spain was one of the first countries in Europe to legalise same-sex marriage.

- The country is now home to the biggest legal brothel in Europe.

- The divorce rate has soared by over 200% in a decade.

- The Socialist government has ended religious education in state schools.

- Abortion on demand is now legal.

But back to the main topic. The quote below to me sums up the everyday experiences of people under Franco and their perception of him:

Manoli Pagador (a mother who believes she had her baby stolen):

“Doctors, nuns? I couldn’t accuse them of lying. This was Franco’s Spain. A dictatorship. Even now we Spaniards tend not to question authority.”

The Catholic Church does have 'enemies within' and its structures do allow them to abuse it.

The demons must be rejoicing - as well as you DanJ0!

19 October 2011 at 15:28  
Blogger Jon said...

Hmmm. "Structure, organisation and shared vision" - what biblical basis does this have? Shared vision ought to have been provided by your holy book, but structure and organisation?! From where?

So instead of my analogy of a private equity firm, you see the Catholic Church as more of a lobbying firm? Sort of like Stonewall, but for old men interested in frocks, incense and other people's sex lives?

I'm glad we've got that straightened out.

19 October 2011 at 16:12  

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