Comments: Getting Equal: not yet

The thing is that there is no intention of blocking the legislation altogether. There will be protective legislation with regard to goods and services, and gay and lesbian people.

If the Church really does wish to opt out of this and thinks it will improve its image in today's society to do so, it really is even more out of touch and more willing to hide in a laager of homophobic safety than I thought.

Its not as if any gay people are going to be attracted to anything labelled Christian in any case - thats why so many have jettisoned the Church and no longer find it of any relevance to their lives. I would no sooner choose a 'Christian' guest house for my partner and I to stay in than opt for cockroaches and leaky taps! But I see no reason why the State should legitimise this sort of backwards , outdated religion.

In private, believe what you want. In public, treat people equally, aprticularly if you use public money to provide your 'service'

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 15 October 2006 at 4:32pm BST

Mike keeps his best point to last.
We are lobbying the government vigorously to ensure that those who choose to avail themselves of any opt out with regards to provision of services etc to lesbian and gay people should also be opted out of receiving public money of any sort, including grants and lottery funding.
Of course there are already rules with regard to lottery funding, and some organisations are willing to claim provision of open access when it is not in fact offered. We are presently looking at a few high profile cases where buildings have received massive lottery funding but refuse to provide equal access.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 15 October 2006 at 10:43pm BST

One continues to hear (outside of Nigeria, anyway) that a distinction is to be made, between *the State* (which must be about "equal treatment for all, under the law"), and *the Church* (which reserves the right to give less rites to "unrepentant sinners").

...but when you scratch the surface (you don't even have to do that much w/ Anglican Mainstream---they're proud to tell you they're in favor of legal discrimination!), you see there's very little difference at all.

In this view, LGBTs are nothing other than a criminal class, from which ALL OF SOCIETY must "protect itself".

And yet, for all their 'phobic fulminating, God continues to make some people LGBT.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 1:02am BST

The Telegraph is a sewer of bigotry and the churchmen who wrote in in support should simply be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 3:28am BST

Looking at those who signed the letter, I cannot say I'm that surprised at their attitude. A pillar of 'Reform' is hardly likely to be progressive on social affairs (it's always struck me that 'Reform' was either named ironically or is positively Orwellian). NB the lack of female signatories btw.

Posted by David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 8:21am BST

There does seem to be a rather disturbing similarity between the views of Archbisop Akinola and some backers of the proposed UK Regulations: both seem keen to use the power of the state to enforce their views on those who disagree with them. Is agreeing with Akinola really such a good idea for advocates of LBGT rights?

Similarly, is Martin Reynolds really saying that bodies that don't agree with LGCM on sexuality should not receive public money, even for such unrelated matters as the maintenance of historic buildings?

One key issue is the distinction between human rights based arguments (broadly speaking, "you must have freedom from" or "the state must not" arguments) and equality based arguments (broadly speaking, "you or the state must" arguments). These inevitably clash.

Another issue is that international law on freedom of religion or belief recognises a distinction between holding a religion or belief (including atheistic beliefs) and manifesting such a belief. However, manifestation - eg. of (not just sexual) teaching and behaivour - may not properly be separated from the right. Much ink continues to be spilt in seeking to clarify what constitutes acceptable manifestations!

It is surely far better to defend for others the rights one wants for oneself, and to allow people and religious bodies (say Metropolitan Community Churches and Evangelical Alliances) the freedom to disagree and to manifest this in public teaching, practice and sharing of beliefs. In societies such as the UK, people are free to make up their own minds and participate in whatever body they please.

Religious communities take different views on gay and other issues. It is surely unacceptable that the state should try to dictate what any person or community should think or believe, unless that person or community can - like say racist groups - be provably linked to criminal acts. To enforce one view is only likely to create artificial martyrs and add to the extremism (of all kinds, not just religious) which plagues so many public debates. It's also unlikely to convince those who disagree with the current enforced view.

The danger, on all sides of the debate, is to want society to see one view as the only possible acceptable view. That way lies tyranny. As the Marxist Rosa Luxemburg put it, "freedom is always freedom to think differently."

Posted by Rob Hall at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 9:06am BST

Do the signatories of the letter intend to exclude from employment any and every individual who is in a sexual relationship outside marriage, as their understanding of the their faith would require? If this is the case then it is not discriminatory towards homosexual men and women. But I doubt very much if they would even consider asking the candidate for school caretaker whether s/he is living with their partner outside Holy Matrimony or in a 'biblically unacceptable' relationship of marriage to a divorced person. Let us have this clearly stated by Philip Giddings and then we might listen to his cries.

Posted by Anglicanus at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 1:29pm BST

“New Labor’s” Tony Blair is a real piece of work. He’s a sycophant to those more powerful than him (eg, President Bush), and a creep to those who are weaker (gays and lesbians). He should be an embarrassment to any progressive Anglicans.

Posted by Kurt at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 3:14pm BST

This is just the sort of trouble you get into when you make a piece of flat earth theory, read a certain way in a few scripture passages - six or seven so-called clobber passages if I recall - into a major article of conformed/institutional faith with no leeway.

Nor am I a fan of government legislated micromanagement systems, usually enforced by penal strictures.

If the conserved and conformed faith communities wish to make it as deadly and punitive as possible for any LGBTQ children who have the luck to born into their families - and make no mistake, those variant children will be born for several decades more at least, if not up to a century future - then I suppose that is their institutional and communal and individual privilege of conscience.

Why in the world such strict religious groups would take public monies to provide open services to all, nominally - usually key services to people in urgent need of this or that piece of care or support, but not exclusively so - and then pride themselves on omitting this or that group of needy people is rather beyond me, all said and done.

The realignment campaign to distill just this sort of flexibility and leeway out of all Anglican institutions is going to end up doing far more damage than its strongest partisans imagine. One of the fall-outs is that people with other views are compelled to push back, institutionally, because the Christians are laying claim to simply all the citizen opportunities and resources that God is supposed to have exclusively given them, but not necessarily anybody else. I think we call it polarization, and we know how well it supports splitting and cultural war. Along with institutional weaponizations of differences.

But of course a faith-based hospital must refuse to stitch up a queer fellow or a lesbian woman hit over the head with a tire iron, because God's commandments are at stake. Christian B&B's - not imitating the parable of the Good Samaritan I take it - must be obedient and do exactly likewise. Otherwise God may hold them accountable for the number and type of orgasms, or not, that couples could have under their public accommodations roofs.

The flat earth model behind all of these absurdities is the big elephant standing in the room.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 4:13pm BST

Would you suggest, Merseymike, that the drive out its conservative members in hopes of convincing more liberal people to come back? Somehow I suspect that would have the effect of simply making the CoE totally empty, rather than revitalizing it.


Posted by Jon at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 5:19pm BST

As long as you see the Church as merely a conservative social institution needing to be brought into the modern age, you aren't going to get it at all. "Get with the times" is a non-argument. Our times are no better than any other times. We think we're enlightened and ignore our societal faults just like every culture that has gone before. Evolution, biological or societal, is merely moving from one state to another, with no connotation of improvement at all. Frankly, I don't want to be with the times. If the Church is to be open to gay people, it must be because it is in accord with the Gospel, and whether or not society thinks it's right is immaterial. Society once thought it was right to burn us at the stake, so how does society get to say what's right? In so far as I have misgivings about SSB, it is BECAUSE the social left is pushing it. You can't make society the arbiter of truth only in those areas where society agrees with you.

We wouldn't be having this kind of discussion if we didn't believe we were entitled to the kind of social position that selling out to the State 1700 years ago gave us. And I'm gay, and a Christian, so don't go speaking for me. I happen to find Christianity very attractive.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 5:21pm BST

Onward and Upward

'We're only a couple of weeks away now from the historic investiture of +Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and I'm sensing a "new day dawning" as energy and optimism creep back into the battle-weary, schism-threatened faithful of this great old church of my birth and baptism.

The demand for tickets for the Big Event was so great that a recent ENS story reported only 25% of the requests could be filled and parishes all over the country are organizing "webcast" opportunities for folks to gather at-a-distance and share this new-day-dawning for the Episcopal Church. That's a lot of people excited enough about the future of this church to compete over dropping everything over All Saints weekend and schlepping off to the National Cathedral!' bty Susan Russell

I found this account very encouraging. A new day dawning - that's quite something !

Posted by laurence roberts at Monday, 16 October 2006 at 8:00pm BST

Yes the newest news is not really from the secular or religious right, at least for all the rest of us, unchurched people included. The newest news is that the rest of us are making various plans to just keep on following Jesus - or in the case of many unchurched citizens in many nations, to join/support whatever signs of good change or progress are both our solid foundations for correcting past errors as well as our newest discoveries of good things, mainly unknown in even the best of so many legacy riches.

And that new news is topped off by our continuing varied access to all the legacy riches.

So what's not to celebrate?

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 1:43am BST

One of the best phrases in this thread came from Rob Hall "It is surely far better to defend for others the rights one wants for oneself..."

Laurence's news about the popularity of Schori's investure and demand to be involved is positive and exciting.

I liked both the following articles because they show souls awakening to find Christians and others more interested in reverance and hope over power mongering and repression.

There was an excellent New Scientist article several years ago that demonstrated that the Blair's government should be resigned to a certain amount of scandals, and that the standard he was trying to set was unachievable (can't link - subscription). If they can not achieve the moral high ground within the elected government, then who are they to impose an unachievable standard on the broader population? People in glass houses should probably stop throwing stones.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 10:03am BST

Perhaps I share some of the views Rob Hall offers, the coercive nature of law when dealing with discrimination is uncomfortable as I recently discovered when advertising for a new support worker for our son.
If I had advertised as I wished – now illegal - the applicant appointed would not have come forward and we would have missed the best person for the job.
There is also a delicate path to tread where “criminal activity” can be linked to certain views. I would not like to see the anti abortion campaign made illegal because there are proven links to some who have murdered those working in abortion clinics.
But on the other hand there are a considerable number of corpses to demonstrate the terminal effects of homophobia and sadly considerable evidence to link these murders directly to faith communities. LGCM is holding a major conference next year to explore this issue and over 120 organisations are working alongside us in this venture, have a look on our website.
Faith communities have a long record of seeking such exemption. It is a major step to exempt a group from acting in a way that would otherwise be viewed as criminal and it brings great responsibility upon those so exempted to behave in a way that does not inspire the violent actions of some.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the Episcopal Church of America that if it wants to act in a “prophetic” way by its full inclusion of lesbian and gay people then it has to be willing to pay the price of acting against the consensus. Similarly it can be argued that if the Church wishes to act in a way contrary to the consensus here in the UK by excluding lesbian and gay people then it should also be prepared to pay the price of its stance.
While I personally might deplore the coercion on both sides here, I also have to say that the Church cannot have it both ways.
So, yes I am currently supporting the view that no tax money should be spent supporting the Church as long as it holds these exemptions. I accept some of your arguments about this but feel that the comparison with the Nigerian law is insubstantial other than one could compare the apartheid laws with laws prohibiting racial discrimination and say they are two sides of the same coin.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 11:01am BST

JC F 's point is telling. It has made me think.

I'd appreciate others
feedback or thoughts on a thought I've had.
I think many of these
religious groups (will) go as far as they can.

They will go as far as
they can get away with, either legally, or -- more to the point, in
terms of the bar of public opinion; & their own credibility & say,
funding etc. So, they only make the current private- public distinction
because they must-- in say the Uk, (and USA tosome extent ?). They have
to here, because they would not get away with, e.g. trying to
re-criminalize same-sex love and lovers, AT THE MOMENT. These gains
could be rolled back, could be lost under a future rightwing government;
or after a coup. It seems almost unthinkable. Please let your self think
it ! These anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-bisexual, anti-trangender,
anti-persoanl and sexual freedom groups show that, at the sight of an
opening, a small chink, they will be in there like a shot ! The RC
denomination shows this through its spokes-persons (their 'Cardinals' in
Scotland & Westminster, and the archbishop at Cardiff, who is always on
the Today programme advocating for the suppression the lives of gay
people, and a woman's right to choose), also the 'Christian Institute',
Evangelical Alliance and the Archbishops' Council attacked the reform of
transgender recognition law, civil partnerships; and msot recently our
protections from discrimination in the fields of goods and services.

Posted by laurence roberts at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 11:42am BST

and most recently our
protections from discrimination in the fields of good and services. / ...

Part 2 follows on from previous comment :---

I preferred to spell out the anti list above because I find the word
'homophobia' too weak, too easily passed over. Hardly anyone admits to
being 'homophobic these days -it's like racism-- a mantra, to cover
anti-gay etc...(you got it!) behaviours. "I'm not racist --but....".
"The anglican church is not homophobic-and will not tolerate it it --but
--here's the 'windsor report'!" --Thank you Archbishop Eames mmm......

"We won't marry you or bless you. We won't ordain you or let you
participate in the life of the Church, at certain 'levels'. We won't
give you straight forward pastoral care and occasional offieces without
a rumpus -or at all. We will cause a stink because one bishop is 'open'.

While trying to stiffle & margianlize you, WE will feel a persecuted and
marginalized minority, ourselves." (I love when these anti-gay groups
start to use the language of being a minority, needing a voice, not
wanting to have to hide their true identities!).

BTW "we will accept you
as long as you are not 'openly gay'--keep your heads down, and your lips
sealed --like in the good ole days !" If only robinson had worn loads of
lace and pipping, joined a 'catholic' sodality & opined about
promiscuity and "imperative of celibacy" for american youth --all would
have been well and the Russian Church would have been courting HIM, by now.

Posted by laurence roberts at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 11:49am BST

How is 'extreme' being defined here, Simon? Have you any percentage figures regarding how many people would be opposed in principle, and how many in favour?

Even then, head count is perilous as a principle. By head count alone, a principle which is mainstream can become extreme or even unheard of a few years later, and vice-versa.

All of which demonstrates that you cannot be talking of *intrinsic* extremity, just extremity in one particular society at one particular point of time, under one particular set of circumstances and with one particular set of fashion-setters at work.

But if you are not talking of intrinsic extremity, you cannot be talking of extremity at all. Extremity per se is a logical thing, not a transient social thing. Such a position would force you to the self-contradictory position that one and the same thing can really be (in a real logical sense, as opposed to a transient social sense) extreme in one society and mainstream in another.

If we then take the further step of assuming our own society and historical period as the norm, how is that different from racism or cultural blinkeredness/ignorance?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 12:42pm BST

"I love when these anti-gay groups
start to use the language of being a minority, needing a voice, not
wanting to have to hide their true identities!"

But being persecuted is an important part of the Fundamentalist/Evangelical mythology. It is attractive to anybody to be standing against oppression, it is also a strong motivator for the Left. In this, the Right has bought into the Spirit of the Age, a sin they accuse the left of. You see it in those who claim persecution if there is no Christian prayer in schools. (So why don't they pray at home?) You see it in those who claim oppression if they can't solemnly say the Lord's Prayer at one another before a football game (!) In doing this they give in to their fear, of change, of whatever, and, in my opinion, disobey Christ who tells us not to be afraid. If Christ is who we believe Him to be, then what is there for us to fear?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 1:08pm BST

Yes, indeed m, Ford ! And they have to be careful, or else they end up putting such a convincing case for their own right to freedom of belief, of association, and to be free to lead their chosen lifestyle in peace. So convincing that they beautifully make the case for all minorities! The logic of their arguments embraces gay people, women, racial and linguistic minorities, too -- & yes, theological minorities like Jack Spong, Don Cupitt etc.

Then we start hear of 'theological minorites' and 'two integrities'. I thought lgbt people were the theological minority on any reckoning! But while they want special exemption from the decisons of ECUSA's GC for themselves; they don't want lgbt folk to be able to pray freely, including , blessing of our relationships, marriage, and access to all the occasional offices and ordinances of the Church.

In case you have forgotten 'two integrities' -- it was a phrase devised by C of E clergy who wanted protection from ordained women. This telling phrase won the day for Forward in Faith, the Federation of Catholic Priests and all the other terrified people. The General Synod of the C ofE passed legislation protecting those who needed it, from women priests. You might have thought that with the great majority of FiF members and FCP members being themselves gay, they might have thought "Hey ! we could apply this term to the theological needs of lgbt people, and others"--but if they ever thought it, they certainly never said it , or wrote it !


I want to bring the idea of two (or more)
integrities back into play--that way we could all 'Live & let live'--- if we wished to.

But heck that doesn't mean we each need our bishop / archbishop or separate province, does it ?

Posted by laurence roberts at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 2:01pm BST

I find fear, anxiety, anger and various human feelings come from time to time, and for myself, I find I get on better, if don't hide from my feelings.

Posted by laurence roberts at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 2:13pm BST


I concur with your concerns that these reforms would be overturned in an instant, if and when the opportunity arises.

There are people who like to compartmentalize and then do some mind-boggling postings that belong in a Camus novel - is this really a table that I am sitting at? Is it appropriate to label it a table? It might not be called a table in another time or culture... When you have no reasonable basis for disagreement, then start convoluted passages worthy of any seer or oracle and capable of being interpreted in any number of ways. Then you can always claim that "the other" does not understand your posting, and therefore you are intellectually superior, and therefore you must have the moral high ground.

Rubbish. Both the quality of such postings and those who rely on such kind of sophistry.

Back to the question of reforms being overturned. We only need to look at what is happening in the "War on Terror" to appreciate these are not unrealistic fears e.g. the concerns cited at the United Nation second Human Rights Council Session, as repeated at end of this article:

One of the best catch phrases I've seen in the last week has been we need a "War on Error, not a War on Terror" (linked in above article).

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 7:55pm BST

I am gobsmacked by the distinction I keep reading, in some of these pieces, between the "pure bigotry" of racism, and the denial of equal rights to LGBTs.

Why shouldn't someone be allowed to have a belief-system, that dark(er) skin, or "slanted" eyes, are but the external sign of some internal depravity (a sign Our God has conveniently provided for casting out the cursed to Teeth-Gnashing Land?)


...IF NOT, why should the *external sign of same-sex orientation* (and relationships congruent w/ said orientation), be grounds for thinking *it* a sign of depravity, and discriminating accordingly?

[And please: spare me "The Bible Says So"! 1) irrelevant to the State, 2) it bloody well doesn't, anyway!]

Pure bigotry, is pure bigotry. Period. Either we ALL revert to the law of the jungle, "red in tooth and claw", of our idiosyncratic *hatreds* . . . or else we have a *civil* society where---if you *must* hold onto your hatred---you KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. >:-/

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 6:21am BST

The basic problem with Martin Reynolds' view is that - as he admits - he does want, like Peter Akinola, to use the state to coerce people who disagree with him. That is a very substantial point, despite the very large differences between Martin Reynolds and Peter Akinola about what penalty the state should impose on those who do not fall into line.

That way lies tyranny. Consider the situation if the state reverted to the views of past decades and coerced LGCM instead.

Consider also whether state coercion will persuade, instead of playing into the hands of extremists. Surely this sledgehammer approach will create artificial martyrs and add to the extremism (of all kinds, not just religious) which plagues many public debates?

Martin writes of the "sadly considerable evidence to link these murders directly to faith communities." Which faith communities have been found guilty in a UK court of law of direct responsibility for which murders, and in what exact ways is the current criminal law inadequate to deal with this?

He also states "It is a major step to exempt a group from acting in a way that would otherwise be viewed as criminal". Given that the Regulations are not yet in force, what crimes are currently being committed by which precise persons and how are they being prosecuted?

Martin's claims seem to lack the clear reasoning necessary for good law, or for those of us unconvinced by state coercion to think that he really does in any concrete sense "deplore the coercion on both sides here."

He writes "if the Church wishes to act in a way contrary to the consensus here in the UK by excluding lesbian and gay people then it should also be prepared to pay the price of its stance." If consensus in a particular country – as decided by one interest group - really is the deciding factor, than there are no universal human rights, no inalienable human dignity based on the Incarnation, and no grounds on principle for Martin to argue against Peter Akinola's support for Nigerian law's human rights violations.

Freedom really is always the freedom to think differently. It’s a freedom LGCM has used in the past, but now wants to deny to others. This is as unacceptable as denying that freedom to advocates of LBGT rights anywhere in the world.

Posted by Rob Hall at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 8:47am BST

Strikes me that we have a sort of re-run of the Salman Rushdie affair, where two axioms of liberal western democracies are irreconcilable. In the Satanic Verses controversy we had free speech vs respect for another's belief system (particularly when that belief system belonged to a minority).

Now we have the right of a significant and legally regarded minority not to suffer discrimination (axiom 1) coming up against the right of a member of a belief system not to be coerced into acting against their conscience (axiom 2). Unlike (I think) the race issue, there will be some Christians out there who genuinely believe they're going to be sinning by aiding and abetting (as they would see it) rebellion against God, 'accessories before, during and after the fact'.

Since the state cannot proscribe that which is legal, or permit those engaged in legal behaviour to be disadvantaged, short of conservative Christians getting out of the public sector altogether (and forming a sort of ghetto) I can't see a way round this, any more than there was ever a satisfactory solution to the Rushdie crisis in the pages of the Manchester Guardian.

Having said all that, would ANYONE want to stay in a Christian Guest House? I remember there was one near where we used to stay on holiday, and the sad procession of soggy holidaymakers to the nearest pub, having had nothing stronger than weak tea with their dinner was a sight straight out of Dante....

Posted by David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 11:35am BST

Seeing everything on an emotional level is what proper debate tries to get away from.
You are assuming that people have opinions fixed in stone. That is your first mistake. Honest people read, listen, and develop/modify their views all the time. The things that are fixed in stone (in principle, at least) do not qualify for the name opinion. They are wishes and ideologies, and hence have no place in a debate.

Your proposal is 'agree to differ'. So: no more refining of knowledge and research. No more debate. No more listening.

There is a danger that the only ones who propose to 'agree to differ' will be (a) those who can't defend their own position; (b) those who want their own position to persist without being subjected to scrutiny.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 1:09pm BST

JC, while I agree that it isn't relevant to the secular state, I can't dispense with what's in Scripture so easily. I know the linguistic arguments, and they are powerful. I also know that God is active in my life, and was active in the long period when I abandoned Him. I also know what He has done for me, so I am at something of an impasse. If God so wants me to be celibate, why has He done what He has for me? I can't answer that, but He did, so who am I to argue? Saying "I won't accept this blessing from You because the Bible says it's wrong" seems not only ungrateful, but arrogant. I figure He knows better than I do what He meant when He inspired Paul to write what he wrote. .

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 1:54pm BST

Anglicanism has always been based on agreeing to differ.

There are sacramentalists,and Catholics, Protestant sacramentalists and non-sacramentalists. Evangelcals -some more sacramental (if I can put so) than others.And broadchurch people, some sacramental and some less so. Then there liberals both Catholic and Evangelical, and Broadchurch. And liberal Liberals, and radicals.

So these three broad religions, or presentations / paradigms of faith catholic, evangelcial and broadchurch.

Some 'accepting Christ as saviour',or being Confirmed; some with a more 'gradual' spirituality-often sacramental, not necessarily-like Lydia 'whose heart the Lord opened' (Acts). Some with a spiritualit rooted in Mattins and / Evensong and 'the early srvice 3 or 4 times a year.
As well as devotional approaches, there have always been those drawn to a more critical approach. Wheether textual, form-critical or critiques of doctrine, or of the life & mission of the Church with sociological tools. Or seeking to understand pastoralia with the lens of psychology. (Not that crticism is to be opposed to devotion --look at Schwitzer, John Robinson and Don Cupitt and the good people of the Jesus Seminar)

The C of E has run on the ability of all these to rub long together to agree to disagree. To live and let live.

Also, of course, this kind of dialgue goes on within one person. My inner catholic, and evangelical and liberal all in conversation with each other --as shown in ford's honest and moving commentary, about his own --if you like --inner,,,,,,, but then words only take us so far and I don't want to put words in others' mouths. But there comes a point , I find, where thewords run out............before 'the Silence of eternity interpretted by love'......... could that be it ?

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 4:33pm BST

Rob ; there is a difference between being allowed to think differently, and beine allowed to legitimately discriminate against someone in secular society as a result of that thought.

I believe people can think as they wish. I do not believe people should have the right to discriminate in society as a result against those who their thoughts disapprove of.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 5:09pm BST

Ford, I'm finding it impossible to follow what you're saying. Try again? ;-/

[Christopher, "Seeing everything on an emotional level" is *your* projection. I may express my convictions *with emotion* (seeing that they are about injustice done to me and my people, it would be rather insane if I weren't angry), but it's not from "seeing everything" that way. God help me, I "see" through Scripture, Tradition and Reason, illuminated by the Holy Spirit! :-)]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 9:17pm BST

Ford. If you are capable of being celibate, well and good, but if not take a mate for life 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 God loves and blesses you either way.

The comment "Seeing everything on an emotional level is what proper debate tries to get away from." made me laugh (reference the joke "No emotions please, we are Anglican"). Souls who can say this with a straight face can easily accept a paradigm that lifetime celibacy is the answer to sexual conundrums. Because their sexual and emotional drives are held in check by reason. God bless and love them.

The broader humanity who deals with the reality of hormones (try passing that phrase to a pre-menstrual wife and watch the fireworks) laugh at such a statement. The AIDS pandemic vectors clearly demonstrate that sexuality (and thus other emotions) can not always be deferred until suitable times, places and people are available.

God made most of us to be in relationship - within ourselves (e.g. Laurence's posting), with each other, with an intimate soul mate, and with God.

Any solution that does not cover robustly cover emotional realities is utopian and doomed to failure. Any debate that denies emotions and their legitimacy has forgotten the source of the conundrum.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 9:24pm BST

Mynsterpreost wrote:
"Having said all that, would ANYONE want to stay in a Christian Guest House? I remember there was one near where we used to stay on holiday, and the sad procession of soggy holidaymakers to the nearest pub, having had nothing stronger than weak tea with their dinner was a sight straight out of Dante...."

Well, yes, I do have a certain amount of sympathy, being partial to a pint or four!

But "Christian" guesthouses and conventual/monastic lodgings do exist. Italy is awash with the latter. I note the perception that only homosexuals are discriminated against, but such premises are likely to refuse double rooms to persons of opposite sexes who aren't married. In fact, two people of the same sex might find it easier to share a room than Mr Jones and Miss Brown.

Likewise in employment, there are well documented cases of people being denied employment or even sacked from existing jobs in church schools because of perceived heterosexual peccadilloes. (I seem to recall a fairly recent case of an up-the-duff unmarried teacher in a Roman Catholic school.)

Posted by Alan Harrison at Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 11:17pm BST

Sorry. I've been told I can be obtuse. To explain it is more personal than I want to be. It's just that my experience of God in my life makes me believe that He doesn't have a problem with my sexuality. All the same, I don't like the theological hoops we jump through to explain away 7 or 8 passages of Scripture. I'm aware of the linguistic arguments, but these passages have always, as far as I know, been interpreted as being about homosexuality. I just can't reconcile this interpretation with the reality of God in my life. I also don't think what the Church says, either way, should necessarily be secular law. This was in response to:

And please: spare me "The Bible Says So"! 1) irrelevant to the State, 2) it bloody well doesn't

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 19 October 2006 at 12:56am BST

Merseymike, if thinking is not permitted to be shared and acted on - just as happens here at Thinking Anglicans! - where's the freedom?

Thinking, speaking, teaching and actions which can be legally proved to lead to violence or other forms of criminality should of course be barred.

But what Martin Reynolds and LGCM (and Peter Akinola) are proposing is state coercion of those who disagree with them. In the UK context, that is vastly more than is necessary to deal with violence and criminality against LGBT people.

It also - on LGCM's part - reveals a loss of confidence in the power of ideas, free discussion and seeking the will of God to change minds and actions. When one thinks about where LGCM have come from and the freedoms which have allowed the agenda of LGBT rights to become mainstream, that loss of confidence is bizarre - as well as being wrong in principle. It's also a very effective way of encouraging the growth of support for extremists like Akinola and his friends in the UK and elsewhere.

Posted by Rob Hall at Thursday, 19 October 2006 at 8:50am BST

Wow, that is the first time I have heard it said that 1 Cor 7 endorses taking a homosexual mate for life. Coming as it does only one chapter after 1 Cor 6, this is quite an interpretation. Paul's views underwent a 180 degree shift (which he omits to mention) within less than one chapter.

What is said of Merseymike's views is quite right. I think he subscribes to Frank Spencerism: 'Every day in every way society is getting better and better.' (uttered while the world is collapsing around him). Ignoring the empirical evidence that there is no 'progress': merely progress in some areas, regress in others and stagnation in others.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 19 October 2006 at 12:59pm BST

"Likewise in employment, there are well documented cases of people being denied employment or even sacked from existing jobs in church schools because of perceived heterosexual peccadilloes. (I seem to recall a fairly recent case of an up-the-duff unmarried teacher in a Roman Catholic school.)"

Oh come now, Alan. The question isn't about "heterosexual peccadilloes". It's the DOUBLE-STANDARD, that ***ALL*** homosexual relationships are *defined* as peccadilloes (or worse!). Don't DENY marriage to same-sex couples, and then consign us all to the sinful "unmarried", no different than your up-the-duff teacher! >:-/)


"I'm aware of the linguistic arguments, but these passages have always, as far as I know, been interpreted as being about homosexuality."

ALWAYS? Have you read the esteemed Goran Koche-Swahne {sp?} here at TA, or at Fr. Jake's? Your "always" is *incredibly recent*: an *innovation* that the "reasserters" have believed themselves justified to *invent*!

[Even w/ my lack of scholarship in this area, it's only LOGICAL that the "always" ***can't be any longer*** than than the ~century-old concept of homosexuality! :-0]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 19 October 2006 at 9:41pm BST

I don't see what the confusion with 1 Corinthians 6 comes from. Unless you are taking the catholic stance that sex is only appropriate where there is the possibility of conceiving a child in wedlock. That means post-menopausal women, men with vasectomies, women with hysterectomies or testosterone females are immoral if they partake of sexual activities. If sex is more than reproduction (which I would suggest is the case as God gave women clitorises), then God has presented us with conundrums beyond homosexual sex. If the conundrums exist, then the challenge is to develop an ethics that can be fairly and universally applied. If humans have sexuality, then they need to be able to express that sexuality in a safe reverential manner. The most stable social form has been found to be monogamous life long mating. Unless we are going to start handing out licenses for who is suitable to have sex? Please forgive me and the bulk of humanity for laughing at preposterous arbirtrary boundaries that are unbearable and unfulfillable.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 20 October 2006 at 9:57am BST

Well, JC, I am unaware of any religious writing before this century that speaks positively about homosexuality. I'd love to read some. Why the yelling? I know God loves me, so what Paul wrote about my sexuality doesn't bother me too much. And I am for the most part on your side. It's just that I can't reconcile what is in Scripture with what I know to be God's work in my life. I'll go with the evidence of His blessings rather than with the way we have interpreted "malakoi" and "arsenikitos", but I'd still like to read some premodern writing that is positive about me. If there isn't any, no bother, God loves me anyway.

As to there not being "homosexuality" as we now define it before the modern era, true, and we know why. Overwhelming societal hatred drove people so far underground they couldn't even begin to understand themselves. Seeing someone burned at the bottom of a stake will do that to a person. Still, it really doesn't settle things much for me to say that "Oh well, they didn't understand what homosexuality is." It also doesn't bother me much, since, as I said, God has been very good to me, gay or not.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 20 October 2006 at 12:29pm BST

Heck, you want pre-modern blessings? Easy: read Plato's Symposium and Phaedrus.

Posted by The Anglican Scotist at Friday, 20 October 2006 at 7:21pm BST

Would you then reject all coersive law on this basis. Rob?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 20 October 2006 at 7:29pm BST


The ultrapuritans do not agree that the phrases in the bible referring to either eunuchs or the afflicted could apply to homosexuality. As the term homosexuality is only a modern concept, it is not a surprise that it is not written of per se in the bible. But the precedent of how God treats eunuchs is useful. Do not deliberately mutilate, coerce or create them; but if they are there treat them with respect. Two inspiring passages are Isaiah 56:3-8 and 2 Kings 20:18-19

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 20 October 2006 at 10:28pm BST

Rob ; I think that coercion to prevent discrimination is absolutely right.

I'm not terribly interested in the so-called 'will of God' which is something I don't believe in as a non-realist. I am interested in civil and legal equality.

If that happens to upset religionists, then thats their problem - they have the right to their religious beliefs but not to discriminate as a result of them.

Personally, I think conservative Christianity should be treated rather like racism or homophobia - something which regretfully exists amongst the mentally challenged.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 20 October 2006 at 11:48pm BST

Though we may have a difficult time seeing it so, the problem of reading scripture in connection with homosexuality is not smaller or greater than the problem of reading scripture to reveal a Ptolemaic cosmology complete with flat earth and concentric layers of heaven above and around.

The flat earth cosmology was so taken for granted, so wed to how the texts were read that few average believers (and quite a few non-average ones) could conceive of how one could not just read the whole scripture out then, just as it was given and traditionally read/understood.

Now we face similar lessons. Empirical data shows us clearly that the sexual orientation domains of human nature are not flat, either. And being in the midst of the living discovery, we find it jarring that something so completely taken for granted for centuries, among believers and many non-believers alike, should be so quickly disconfirmed by something as paltry as empirical data. But God blesses Copernicus because his calculations are true, and the flat earth reading of cosmology in scripture seems in retrospect a very small and very passing thing. Just, dare we remember it, not for the people alive and trying to be faithful and correct at the time of Copernicus. He narrowly escaped being handed over to either the secular authorities or the Inquisition, and bartered to shut up, refrain from talking or publishing, and finish his days under house arrest.

Is that just the sort of God we follow, then?

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 6:52am BST

Hate speach is emphatically not "the power of ideas, free discussion and seeking the will of God to change minds and actions".

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 10:10am BST

hi Cheryl-
Your answer was much more subtle than my original point, which was very simple, even simple-minded. So simple that it can't have been difficult to address; but as far as I see you didn't address it.

Namely: why suggest that 1 Corinthians 7 approves lifelong same-sex unions? A: there is not a hint of this in the text; B: this directly contradicts the previous chapter. Bring back honesty, I say. :o)

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 12:13pm BST

I couldn't agree more with Göran - not least as hate speech at the very least implies the threat of physical coercion, in its encouragement of violent criminality and even murder. This should certainly be prosecuted by the state, whoever it comes from - football fans, religious groups, whoever. But hate speech is not what either LGCM or Peter Akinola want to use state coercion against.

Merseymike has every right to challenge conservative Christianity, describe it as "something which regretfully exists amongst the mentally challenged," persuade others to share his lack of interest in "the will of God," in and so on.

I don't agree with him, nor do I like the discriminatory langauage he uses - it's hard to see language about others being "mentally challenged" as non-discriminatory! But I don't want to use state coercion against him and I want him to have the rights to put forward what he thinks, and seek to persuade others to see things his way.

What is repugnant though, is LGCM's advocacy of state coercion against conservative Christians exercising the same rights as Merseymike.

Let's remember here that religious people in good faith take all sides of the discussion on homosexuality. People can freely express all these views, and can freely start, join or leave groups which take all or none of these views.

That freedom of expression and of the choice to form, join or leave a groups is precious. No-one can legally force anyone in the UK to join any group they don't want to be in. I want to keep the state's intervention - in Nigeria and the UK - to where that free expression and those voluntary choices are threatened by hate speech advocating violence or the threat of violence.

It really is better on principle to defend for others the rights one wants for oneself. And in practice that freedom really does advance human freedom.

Posted by Rob Hall at Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 12:22pm BST

But, Rob, no-one is suggesting any coercion in terms of joining groups or expressing views (outside the normal boundaries of blatant incitement to hatred, obviously)

What we are talking about is the ability to discriminate against others in terms of the right to receive goods and services which are not directly 'religious', in other words, not to be treated as equal citizens.

I think it is absolutely right that such discrimination be outlawed. Alternately, these groups should simply withdraw from providing services within secular society

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 6:36pm BST

Whatever Rob may say I have a deep respect for those who take his philosophical approach to these issues. It is plain that in his mind LGCM and Peter Akinola are on a par and I am sorry for it.
In my view the State has two possible ways of dealing with us, they are punishment and reward.
I am not advocating any punishment for any group.
The discretionary grant system is already used by the government (who spend our money this way) to ensure that people who receive our money comply fully with existing legislation. The applications is in itself a way of auditing how applicants behave in areas like Health and Safety, disabled access etc etc.
As I have already said there are many who have received government/lottery funding for community based projects that, once they have the money, ignored the access criteria that govern the grant award – we have evidence of this and are presently engaged in discussing these issues with government ministers and others.
What we are suggesting is that there should be a moratorium on discretionary grant aid for those who choose to opt out of the regulations not only on provision of goods and services for lesbian and gay people but for those who avail themselves of all the current opt outs from European or British law.
Rob may still see this as coercive and an attack on free speech, I do not..

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 6:36pm BST

Rob. I agree with your posting of 21 October.

CS, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul acknowledges that souls have sexual drives and that such souls are better to be married and "come together" (7:5) so that Satan does not tempt them. Paul acknowledges that not all souls are able to be celibate like himself, and that such souls are better to be married and thus have a suitable outlet for their sexual drives.

Paul might not have approved of homosexuality, but then he didn't exactly shine in his attitude to women either. God uses flawed vessels, and Paul was annointed for his strategic drive and vision, not for his interpersonal skills. Unlike the disciples, Paul didn't live and breathe with Jesus, so never dealt with the quiet rebukes to include children, Samaritans, gentiles or women. Thus Paul had not be refined to the same degree as the others (mind you, the others could almost be called procrastinators when it came to planting new churches, which is why Paul was needed).

I was also reading an article the yesterday that the puritans who suggest abstinence as a method to control AIDS at the recent Toronto conference were not accepted with respect. The point being made that sexual abstinence is not seen as legitimate in other cultures, and in actual fact in many countries having children has become a political act as the US neo-colonialism seems determined to deny their people dignity and legitimacy. A perspective exacerbated by things such as US peace corps sterilizing Guatamalean Indian women without their knowledge while they were "helping them" give birth...

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 8:34pm BST

Merseymike said: "Personally, I think conservative Christianity should be treated rather like racism or homophobia - something which regretfully exists amongst the mentally challenged."

So much for liberal tolerance.

As a "conservative" Christian I find this comment amusing. Some of the greatest intellects of the twentieth century were and are "conservative", or more accurately, faithful Christians. C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, just to name two.

What the comment does confirm for me is something I have been increasingly aware of for a few years now. That many "liberal/inclusive" Christians, for all their talk about tolerance and respect for all people, are seething with bigotry and hatred for anyone who refuses to sell out the Gospel.

Posted by Shawn at Sunday, 22 October 2006 at 10:27pm BST

Merseymike, LGCM is indeed suggesting state coercion - through the medium of public funding - of religious groups which express views it disagrees with on homosexuality.

Martin proposes that teaching on sexuality should even define whether or not groups should receive funds for unrelated matters like building works. That is - contrary to his protestations - a punishment. I note that his last post doesn't answer any of the highly relevant questions about his views on the UK Regulations that I put on 18 October.

As Peter Akinola and LGCM both want to use the state against those who disagree with them, that - to my personal regret - makes a clear parallel between them.

Religious groups do have strong views on sexuality and practice, just as on some other key ethical issues. They always have done, they always will. (Though it seems to me that far too many are obsessed with making sexuality the test of whatever they call orthodoxy.) Teaching on ethical practice can change - slavery is the most often-quoted example.

To discriminate through public funds against those who don't take LGCM's line will rightly be seen as an attack on free speech. This should remain a matter where there is freedom to disagree without sanctions either way - a freedom which LGCM and others have previously used to great effect.

The key issue here is: how can and should those who disagree with some groups' teaching on sexuality proceed?

If coercion is used, it will not only be wrong in principle, but more minds will be closed, artificial martyrs will be created, and those who are convinced that there is some vast LBGT plot to "persecute" them will be confirmed in that view. Those really will be the practical results - and surely none of us would want that? It will be as if Peter Akinola and friends were asked to put forward their ideal policy for LGCM to pursue.

It seems to me that this approach will take the "debate" (such as it is) amongst religious people into a polarised dead-end. I'd suggest an alternative non-coercive approach to those religious groups that don't agree with the full acceptance of LBGT people. It's an idea from COC Nederland - the oldest LBGT group in the Netherlands - called De Dialoog. Worried by the increasing polarisation of all kinds in Dutch society, they had the idea to create safe spaces for respectful dialogue between those who don't normally agree with each other. It's long-term and low-key, but it has been found to achieve some remarkable results in changing minds. More details are (in Dutch) at

Why not leave state coercion to the likes of Akinola, and pursue instead "a more excellent way" of love of those one disagrees with?

Posted by Rob Hall at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 8:46am BST

Sure - but I was just questioning your motive in associating Paul with views the opposite of his own.
It is not puritan to believe in abstinence outside marriage. This has always been the only officially sanctioned option among every large international community known to me: whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu etc..

That is why I so often speak of the danger of seeing our own very particular (and quite possibly deviant) culture and time-of-history as some kind of norm.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 1:07pm BST

Selling out the Gospel started 1700 years ago. I have no hatred for anybody, but I have little patience for conservative Christians for whom Christianity seems to be about a 50s style "Leave it to Beaver" lifestyle, and who are utterly incapable of seeing that the Church long ago sold out Her principles and now has a lot of work to do to regain Her credibility. First must come repentance, and a resolve to be, for the first time in 1700 years, in the world but not of the world. Trouble is, most conservatives are unable to see how far the Church tradition they defend is from the Gospel, since the sins they tolerate were declared not to be sin so long ago that you can't even remember how much these things were abhored. And don't call me faithless just because I believe I am called to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. It is maddening that, for you, Christian equals conservative. I wonder where you would have been 2000 years ago listening to the radical from Nazareth. I doubt many of those around Him considered Him a conservative. He wasn't a modern day liberal, either, by the way, as far as I can see. Don't you see that as long as you deny the past sins of the Church, you have no credibility when you speak out against "modern" sins?

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 1:15pm BST

Rob ; I am aware of what LGCM is proposing and I support it. If organisations are unable to offer equality in terms of service delivery, then they should not receive public money. Indeed, this is often the case - organisations are expected to demonstrate non-discriminatory practice.

Those organisations are still entitled to hold their view, but it is right not to accredit it with acceptability just as we would not accredit racism. Just because homophobia is supported by conservative religion does not mean it should be supported in terms of service provision.

Dialogue can and will continue, but I do not think that this sort of institutionalised support for homophobia is acceptable.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 3:08pm BST

Rob asks that this debate be framed in a radically different way.

He makes points that will find an echo in many of the statements LGCM has issued since this “War of the Primates” began:
It is a matter of record that we lobbied hard for the Church to find a way of moving forward on this issue that would not simply exacerbate the position induced by Lambeth 1.10, which is what the Windsor Report has done.
Time and time again we called for a Commission (based loosely on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) where our differences could be explored in a “safe space”. In recent meetings with those leading the Anglican Communion we once again reiterated this in the strongest possible terms, only to be told that “it was now too late”.
We also made it clear that we were willing to engage with the Windsor Process as long as it was genuinely – a process - sadly we saw process vanish quickly moving to “judgment” at the hands of Tom Wright and others.
Despite our cooperative response to the Windsor Report the English house of bishops statement responded to us in the section aptly named “Who pays the price?” like this:

“Any commonly agreed standard of faith or morals is bound to be difficult and even painful for those who disagree with it, and wish to argue for it to be amended. However, a necessary part of Christian discipleship is learning to accept the constraints of living within a community that makes decisions that we may not agree with.”

While our preferred method remains the same our strategy adapts to the present situation – we are told “there is only one poker game in town” !
Our present strategy with this legalistic, highly coercive and corrosive formula developed by others is to seriously if playfully engage with it.
While Windsor seeks to establish monocentric coercive law over the Communion the CofE seeks to escape such “tyranny” at home, they wish to ACT in a way contrary to the law (not LGCM’s line!) with impunity. On this ground, not of our choosing, we say they too should learn “to accept the constraints of living within a community that makes decisions that we may not agree with” and be willing to meet the cost of “acting prophetically”.
These are their own judgments, we appeal for equity.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 4:05pm BST

Anglican Scotist,
When did Plato become a Christian theologian?

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 5:04pm BST

the question is wrongly phrased. It should be 'when did Christianity transmute into Platonism?' :-))


Posted by David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 6:29pm BST

Merseymike, dialogue and coercion are incompatable... There are significant differences between racism and homophobia (however defined). For example, to talk of "racial practice" is nonsensical, but to talk of "sexual practice" (of whatever sexuality) can make a great deal of sense. My earlier posts I think say almost everything else I'd want to say in reply to you!

However, it should also be said there are significant similarities in the reactions of racists and some homophobes. I'm thinking here of violence, extreme unwillingness to consider as an equal human being the "other," and so on. But whilst noting that, we should also admit that that does not embrace the full spectrum of conservative Christian responses.

Martin, I wholeheartedly agree that the record shows that the Anglican Communion has failed - by its tolerance of bullying, human rights abuses, lying, double standards, and so on - to provide the safe space based on mutual respect for LBGT Christians that Christian discipleship requires. The record of public tolerance by much of the Communion's "leadership" of totally unChristian behaivour by the self-styled "orthodox" is at best shameful. I know a number of conservative evangelical Christians who would agree with every word of that - however much they'd want to disagree with LGCM's stances.

So I'd argue both on grounds of principle (see my posts above...) and smart politics (the two can coexist - ask Desmond Tutu!) for refusing to act within a coercive and polarising agenda. The past few years have seen more than enough people acting on that agenda. The record seems to indicate that playing the "poker game" of Akinola and friends is the opposite of being prophetic as Archbishop Tutu was prophetic.

One of the things that so impresses me about De Dialoog is that it deliberately sets out to challenge prejudice of all kinds - including amongst LBGT people against religious people. That's tremendously courageous and inspiring - and also highly effective. It's also, I suspect, exactly the approach needed within the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Rob Hall at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 8:37pm BST

None needed:-)

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 23 October 2006 at 10:09pm BST

But Rob, racism centres on power over sexual behaviour. A key element to slavery was control over relationships; this control was the ultimate dehumanising power reducing slaves to “animals” in a breeding program.
People of different tribes, religions, colours, castes and social classes have been, and remain coerced in a multitude of ways against forming partnerships. Religious groups and political movements frequently have their core values locked up in this type of “purity” and we are all aware of the consequences.
So to talk of “racial practice” is essentially to discuss “sexual practice”.

At its simplest form it is expressed thus:
“I don’t mind black people, as long as my daughter doesn’t marry one.”
Or in the present context:
“I don’t mind gay people, as long as my daughter isn’t one”

It is because this debate is so interrelated and runs so deep, covers such profound fears and deeply held prejudices that we advocated so heartily for the Commission.

Lesbian and gay Christians and their friends come in every hue and philosophical persuasion, and just like all liberation movements before us we struggle to find the best way of achieving our goals. Those today who study the struggle for franchise, self determination and abolitionism can relive their present dilemmas there.

Every day I walk across the road to church I pass the mass grave of those shot on my street when they marched to gain the vote. I regret that in a world where over 80 countries still execute, torture and imprison their lesbian and gay people, martyrs are still all too common see .

I, like you Rob would see an end to all this. I would like to see the Church at the forefront of the end of this tyranny, you (like many before) warn us not to adopt the tactics of our oppressors and they are wise words, well meant. But as with all strategies ours is a complex mixture of nuance and policy embracing wider issues and deeper agendas see .

LGCM is not the caricature our “opponents” (and some of our co-workers!) decide we are, as a membership based organisation we are open to criticism from without and change from within. I have valued and taken seriously all you have to say.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 12:37pm BST

Sorry, Rob, I don't think there is any place for discriminatory legislation, and I do not believe that practice and orientation should have any part to play in civil law. What is being protected is the individual gay or lesbian person, and religious viewpoints on that issue should have no effect on civil law. In my opinion.

So, I disagree with your earlier posts, and your position doesn't convince me. I think equality before the law is much more important than dialogu with followers of harmful religions which would be better off defunct.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 5:41pm BST

Merseymike, I have some sympathy with what Rob is stating, but you have made a profoundly important point, and that is that the rule of law must must have at its foundation the respect for human rights.

Praise be to God, senior justices in both Australia and the UK have come out in the last two weeks to affirm this core tenant. Further, they have rightly pointed out that the failure to embrace and respect human rights and to capitulate to torture and force of the state without scrutiny would be a victory for terrorism. We are fighting an ideological war, and all peoples of all nations and religions are being sifted into those who are for the greater good and those who would impose upon the greater humanity. The former are consistent with and capable of working towards God's vision for a world of peace, justice, abundance compassion and mercy. The latter are of the accusser who dehumanise and intimidate to prop up their narcisstic delusions and are incapable of returning humanity to Eden as their self absorption and antisocial tendencies mean they vandalise and sabotage any attempts to create beauty that does not pander to their whims. Often times doing it, just because it would hurt people and they enjoy inflicting pain on others (and one form of sadism is to state that "God doesn't love you").

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 6:40pm BST

Bravo ! Martin Reynolds

thank you

Posted by laurence at Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 7:44pm BST

Having been a victim of racism, I challenge strongly Martin Reynolds' simplistic analysis that "racism centres on power over sexual behaviour." It can certainly manifest itself as that, but the evil of racism is a great deal more complex than that. Such a simplistic analysis is, quite frankly, patronising to racism's victims.

Not to adopt the tactic of oppressors is more than just to heed "wise words, well meant." If you adopt the tactics of oppressors, you will surely become an oppressor yourself. This is what history has shown, time and again. As Steve Biko once put it in the context of the struggle against apartheid, "a bent policeman is a bent policeman."

I agree with Cheryl Clough that the rule of law must have at its foundation respect for human rights. The two are inextricably intertwined - and as I have earlier said, that respect must in concrete terms include respect for the human rights of those who disagree with LGCM. In other words, equality before the law for all. To attempt like Peter Akinola to coerce groups into thinking differently about practice - (it is different from orientation; you can choose who if anyone you sleep with!) - is to fail to show that respect.

The problem revealed in these posts is the problem of when the agendas of human rights and equality - both valid agendas - come into conflict, as they inevitably do. It is safer to protect human rights, confident that they do indeed allow freedom to achieve equality non-coercively.

I am unconvinced - based on the evidence of his responses - that Martin has even begun to take seriously my (far from infallible!) comments, including the detailed questions I have earlier posed. As I am tired of a dialogue of the deaf, I will conclude my posts on this page by quoting Rosa Luxemburg once again: "freedom is always freedom to think differently."

Posted by Rob Hall at Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 12:33pm BST

May I remind would-be commenters that we have a policy limiting comments to 400 words. So if your comment doesn't appear, this could be the reason.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 6:42pm BST

Rob ; you don't seem to understand the difference between thinking differently, which is fine, and acting on those thoughts by enabling people to discriminate in civil society and in the civil law. Which isn't fine.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 11:04pm BST

I had no idea that LGCM are calling for the abolition of marriage, for mixed sex couples, the removal of the civil liberties of persons in such relationships,the denial of goods and services to them; and the imprisonment or execution of such persons. I am totally against these proposals. Just as I oppose the denial of civil liberties, inclduing the right to marry and to goods and services to lgbt people in Uk--and the draconian law being considered in Nigeria.

I do think that if a gay couple wish to turn away of mixed gender couple, because of their religious beliefs this would be quite wrong ; and vice versa.

Most gay couples use beds for sleeping in, most of the time -- just like everybody else

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 11:44pm BST

' deliberately sets out to challenge prejudice of all kinds - including amongst LBGT people against religious people...'

Gosh, lgbt folk must pose such a threat to --- erm -- 'religious people'. Afterall, we are pretty pissed off with the constant attacks on our communities by the leaders of the mianstream loudmouthed Churches, when ever and where ever they get the chance.

However, religion as a lifestyle choice, is not on the same footing as genetically produced communites like our lgbt communities. I am sure they could give up their homophobic behaviours, with sincerity, help and motivation.

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 11:52pm BST

I grew up in a Britain where B&B’s put up signs saying “No coloureds”.
I don’t want to see signs saying “No Fags” any more than I want to see the very large gay owned hotel industry displaying “No Fundys” – if that is the sort of respectful “equality” of discrimination Rob would like to see in our civil society then God help us all!!

I see we are back to the “disagree with LGCM” line again. I am not quite sure what Rob is talking about. Those who are seeking to opt out are seeking to separate themselves from the law of the land – not the view of LGCM, so “disagree with the law” or “disagree with the government” both correct and honourable.

If Bob had had the patience and the generosity of spirit to engage on terms other than his own, I would have come to the questions he posed as the etiquette of this blog allowed. I must say that usually when I engage with those who advocate his approach to conflict resolution they are normally far less hostile! Those who are keen to see this matter resolved cannot afford to get tired of discussion; we, at least, are here for the long haul no matter what principle guides the dialogue.

Steve Biko was an enigmatic martyr he writes: “Here then we have the case for Black Theology, while not wishing to discuss Black Theology at length, let it suffice to say that it seeks to relate God and Christ once more to the black man and his daily problems. It wants to describe Christ as a fighting God, not a passive God who allows a lie to rest unchallenged. It grapples with existential problems and does not claim to be a theology of absolutes.”

Many lesbian and gay Christians could identify closely with that.

Finally – Rob says above; “thinking differently about practice - (it is different from orientation; you can choose who if anyone you sleep with!)” So it’s all about sex! The type of control Rob and other propose over gay people to make them safe is castration – it takes away their uppity ways you know.

My sorrow is that he could not see the sincerity in what I was saying about his views - that, if nothing else, is a good sign to stop.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 26 October 2006 at 2:35am BST

Merseymike, I would add that the issue is not just discrimination, it is elitism. The idea that just laws and safety measures are the privilege of the elite and to be excluded to the "unsuitables". If a law or model is just and worthy, then it should be available to all. It is bizarre that church establishments are trying to exclude people from reverential relationships and protections. In that sense, there are those churches who are condoning people living immoral lives because they actively advocating that "unsuitables" should be excluded from moral choices and denied access to legal protection.

Based on that morality, we should be stating that sobriety is the privilege of the elite, and everyone else should be consumed by hedonism and narcissm. There is a difference between a soul choosing or struggling with such burdens and a church demanding that it be the only lifestyle that is available to them. The former involves the soul's choice and thus responsibility for their conduct and consequences. The latter makes the churches culpible and accountable for such conduct and its consequent sociological implications.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 26 October 2006 at 3:04am BST
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