Comments: New Orleans: Sunday reports

Although being gay does mean wanting to have sex with men, it also means loving other men. I want the man I love to be happy. I want to do nice things for him. I want to have children with him. I want to nurse him through sickness. And even the sex part--I want him to have pleasure.

I am supposed to experience these feelings as a "disorder," according to many of the bishops who spoke. I am supposed to think these feelings are wrong and need to be changed, and can be changed, and if I don't experience the desire to change them, then even that lack of desire is sinful. If I can't work up the guts to change my feelings, then I need to be celibate.

It's interesting that someone as weak as vacillating on this issue (IMHO) as Rowan Williams would be under attack for saying that my feelings aren't a "disease." Well, gee, that's good to know. And if they aren't a disease, what are they? Why should I stop expressing them? Why should I try to change them? Why can't you bless them?

I think that Jesus was referring to me when He welcomed eunuchs into the Kingdom. There is no evidence from Scripture that eunuchs were either castrated or celibate--even the castrated ones could be the passive sex partner. I think eunuchs were those who, according to Strong's, lacked the inclination to marry.

Our word for eunuch might be "confirmed bachelor." Jesus didn't question their sexual activity--He simply said that some men aren't created for traditional heterosexual marriage, and that those men were created that way by God as part of God's good creation. I don't see Him requiring celibacy or singlehood from eunuchs or confirmed bachelors--simply that they be accepted by His community as His followers.

Posted by James at Sunday, 23 September 2007 at 7:56pm BST

Thank you, Rowan ! At last !

The anti-gay forces will be no more grateful to you for your care of them, after today, than if you had continued to speak up for us gay & lesbian believers, on your translation to Canterbury.

So many of the strident and most vocal anti-gay church-men seem incapable of quiet reflection, empathy for Other people, or a 'Live & let live' approach to sharing a church or a planet together.

Posted by The Reverend L Roberts at Sunday, 23 September 2007 at 7:57pm BST

Jonathan Wynne-Jones is reporting from New Orleans for The Telegraph. Jonathan was formerly on the staff of the Church of England Newspaper, conservative evangelical in stance, and the Telegraph is conservative politically. Jonathan reports:

“Dr Williams's support for gays will fuel anger among conservative Church members who will see his message of support as direct challenge to their deeply held view that homosexuality is a sin.”

“… his message of support for homosexual rights will be seen by religious conservatives as confirmation that he has taken sides against them and that they are viewed as the rebels in the Anglican Church.”

“Evangelical Christians around the world believe that homosexuality is a sin that can be cured, a view emphatically rejected by Dr Williams.”

“Africans and their conservative allies will be dismayed to learn that, rather than using his final speech to deliver an ultimatum to the US bishops, Dr Williams offered support and understanding.”

For the past eight weeks (except when he was supposedly on sabbatical from TA), NP has been predicting doom and gloom for the Episcopal Church and for those of us on TA who support a church fully inclusive of LGBT people. I predicted an outcome rather different from the one NP desires.

We haven’t reached the finale yet, but Jonathan’s reports suggests ++Rowan hasn’t been singing NP’s mood music to the Episcopal bishops.

Posted by Colin Coward at Sunday, 23 September 2007 at 8:52pm BST

If Dr Williams gives up on the conservatives it will at least in part be because they showed impatience and bad faith in the rush to send more and more border crossing bishops into the USA, even before the 30 September "deadline".

Not only was this a breach of catholicity in itself, it also suggested that no realistic outcome would bring them back into line.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is on record as saying that he will pursue unity over truth. But once the conservatives showed that they had no commitment to unity, they made it more likely that the Archbishop would articulate as before his own understanding of the truth.

Posted by badman at Sunday, 23 September 2007 at 11:04pm BST

James - very well said.

I think, though, for me and many other gay men, what the church says doesn't really matter any more. British society has moved on in leaps and bounds without the church - if they want to try playing catch-up then I will welcome it, but really, its no longer a priority for me.

I think it was the realisation that life without church - which is what I have essentially had for a couple of years now - can be every bit as fulfilling.

But if things really do move on, then there's no reason why I couldn't consider returning - without feeling a hypocrite for excusing the inexcusable.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 23 September 2007 at 11:19pm BST

'Mercy' & 'compassion' have taken on a new meaning in this usage. What lexicon is this ! And 'a plea' of the empowered further to exclude and misrepresent the marginalised. :----

'On July 2, the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, Bishop of Louisiana, sent a letter to Bishop Jefferts Schori and enclosing a resolution which he described as “a plea for compassion, mercy, and a united way forward.” The resolution, which also contains the endorsement of 11 other bishops, calls on members of the House of Bishops to end permission for same-sex blessings, deny consent to the consecration of partnered gay bishops and provide for groups alienated by recent developments in The Episcopal Church.'

Posted by L Roberts at Sunday, 23 September 2007 at 11:47pm BST

Jeffrey N Steenson has become disillusioned about the catholicity of TEC --suddenly noticing it acts as an autonomous Church. He has chosen the classic (Anglican) course to re-illusionment. Going over to Rome often only works (if at all) in the short-term --as all the returnees show.

He is likely to find much behind the scenes, and below the surface of the RC denomination, which is far from his imagined ideal of catholicity.

There is something real & honest about the struggles and ambiguities of TEC.

I welcome his tone of respect for TEC and its Presiding Bishop. an honourable approach to them.

Posted by L Roberts at Sunday, 23 September 2007 at 11:56pm BST

"The Archbishop of Canterbury is on record as saying that he will pursue unity over truth. But once the conservatives showed that they had no commitment to unity, they made it more likely that the Archbishop would articulate as before his own understanding of the truth."


The conservatives have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 12:15am BST

I think badman's got it.

Posted by Charlotte at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 12:53am BST

It's a little late but still sounds good, Thanks +++Rowan. I have often thought one day the ABC would finally say enough is enough and finally he has. I have to wonder if Akinola, at his meeting with the ABC, didn't start with the gay bashing and the ABC said, this is not the kind of talk Jesus would condone.

Peace, Bob

Posted by Bob in SW PA at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 3:09am BST

So...schism already...last one out is a monkeys uncle!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 3:49am BST

Badman, the Archbishop made it pretty clear Friday that he has no sympathy for the U.S. parishes trying to play the game of "We're-Anglican-but-not-Episcopalian." I transcribed one of his comments here:
Strangely, few of the conservative bloggers seem to have picked up on his statement.

(Simon, I hope I'm not violating a rule by linking to my own blog. If so, please delete this comment.)

Posted by Lisa Fox at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 4:20am BST

Colin et al....... so, we have not had TEC(USA)'s statement nor, therefore, any response to it from the ABC / Primates - and you are claiming some sort of victory???

You thought the ABC was going to go there and ask them to repent? Rowan Williams to do something like that? Of course not....that would be far too straight forward for him but, look at his record, ask J John - the ABC will be doing his political job, working for a fudge, trying to keep as many as possible in the "party".

Colin Coward - would you not like to see TEC(USA) simply say that it stands by VGR and its decisions in 2003 and still believes it was right?
And would you not like to see the ABC say he thinks TEC's decision was right (even if he thinks they went about it in the wrong way)????
If you had either of these positive statements, you would have something to crow about, Colin.

Posted by NP at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 8:52am BST

NP, are you revealing something of your own self in your recent post, and missing the point entirely?

I have not used the language of victory or of having something to crow about - this is your language, and reveals how you and many conservatives think about the Communion and those with whom you disagree. You either think you are going to achieve a victory or be subjected to a defeat.

That is what ++Rowan and many, many others are carefully avoiding, and in the process, apparently make themselves appear weak or indecisive.

It's a hard road to travel, the road which patiently avoids being pushed into unbiblical polarities by the destructive forces of self-interest.

Posted by Colin Coward at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 9:53am BST

Yes, Colin...we are travelling on a hard road - my point to you was that we have not arrived and it is too early for you to be saying what the ABC has done - he has done very little so far.

I notice you ignore my questions to you - would you not like to see a clear statement from TEC to say its bishops stand by VGR and what they did in 2003?
I would because at least it would show some consistency, honesty and integrity......rather than searching for forms of words which allow people to say one thing while they firmly intend to do another.....that has even less integrity that the CofE's dishonest "don't ask, don't tell" policies. Wouldn't it be great to see bishops saying "This is what we think and we stand by our posiion"???

Posted by NP at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 12:19pm BST

"you would have something to crow about,"
I think that about sums up the mindset of this contributor.
So sad, so desperately sad.
Christ have mercy!

No - quite plainly Rowan does not think we are ill or like the bishop of Chester we need to be (or can be) cured.

I am not normally a fan of J W-J's reportage - but I think he has hit gold here. As I listened to Rowan's response to the question I smiled to realise just how deeply that cuts into the agenda of those who would exclude us.

It will have significant repercussions.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 1:54pm BST

The arresting statement to me was "The interview broadened into attendance at Lambeth Conference. In Bates’ telling the majority of Nigerian bishops want to go to Lambeth — contrary to the position of their primate, Peter Akinola." Quite a statement regarding potential attendance and, far more significantly, an insight into the compex face of GS attitudes.

Posted by ettu at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 2:11pm BST

I think Colin has this right, and Lisa a close observer.

In all of this, Rowan Williams has been criticised for being ineffective, and he frustrates people (including me). However, I do admire this pathway of doggedly plodding on in the messy situation without aggression and without unnecessary assertiveness for the sake of it. It is something to learn from.

I do disagree with his Covenant strategy, in fact I sometimes wonder if he would not disagree with his Covenant strategy (if only in how it has raised expectations of definitions amongst some of those supporting it - I scratch my head thinking isn't my opposition to it somewhat consistent with what would be his opposition to it? But he is obviously pursuing this).

It is most interesting that he has said to Americans to seek a solution within the imperfect institution, as so many are imperfect, and described the boundary crossing bishops as "illicit". He has shown no willingness to sideline TEC in any of this.

Of course there is Tuesday from the House of Bishops and all the responses to come. Much of the Archbishop's meeting in the USA was to say that the ball is in your court - he was rather semi-detached, as indeed follows from his role and powers.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 3:06pm BST

As a gay priest I do of course welcome ++Rowan's remarks. But I wonder if people are not reading too much into them. He said, "I do not assume that homosexual inclination is a disease." Grammatically speaking, that is NOT the same as saying, "Homosexuality is not a disease." He said that he does not assume this at the outset. He did not say that one could not draw that conclusion. I don't think ++Rowan is likely to draw that conclusion himself, but it still seems that he did not rule out that possibility for other reasonable people. Unless there is something else he said that would clarify that sentence (I haven't seen anything but isolated quotations), I would have to say that, unfortunately, the article misrepresents his stated position.

Posted by Charles William Allen at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 3:59pm BST

The contrast in language and style between the posts of Colin Coward and NP, responding to Dr Williams' remarks at the press conference, is a thing to be noted. One labours, at great personal cost, for the continuing sacramental union that membership of the Church of England offers within the Anglican Communion. The other seems determined to achieve purity at a cost which is met by others and not her/himself.
I hope that the result of Dr. Williams meetings with the TEC(USA) House of Bishops and with the Archbishop of Nigeria will be a more transparent willingness on HIS part to call all parties to account for their actions.

Posted by Anglicanus at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 4:01pm BST

Anglicanus says "One labours, at great personal cost, for the continuing sacramental union that membership of the Church of England offers within the Anglican Communion."

Does this include
- plain rejection of certain Anglican Communion resolutions and the interpretation of scripture behind them?
- not just rejection of the words but encouragement of people who are vicars in their rejection of the requirements of their own church with regard to their manner of life?
- demanding membership of the Anglican Communion but not being willing to accept restraint on behaviour demanded of its vicars by the Anglican Communion?

This is labouring for sacramental union???

Colin - I apologise in advance if you deny doing any of the above. I will be interested to know if I am wrong but it seems to me that you reject Lambeth 1.10 and support vicars who do so yet want to be in the AC....this does not seem to me to be struggling for unity in the Anglican Communion so much as demanding your rights in the Anglican Communion - but as I say, please forgive me if I am wrong.

Posted by NP at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 5:18pm BST

Hi James-

There is no evidence that Jesus or any other Jew of his time even considered the possibility of extramarital sexual relations being either lawful or justifiable (as opposed to forgiveable, which they certainly were and are).

By reading between the lines you are exemplifying a very important principle. Namely: as between those who want to make Jesus a citixen of their own country in their own era and those who endeavour to understand him in his own setting it is obvious which of the two is more to be listened to.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 6:08pm BST

Enough, NP. Iy is intellectually dishonest to rant on and on and on about how some people have supposedly rejected ONE Lambeth resolution when you and your allies have deliberately, provocatively and venomously trampled all over repeated resolutions from Lambeth after Lambeth after Lambeth.

Bear in mind the sin for which our Lord seemed to have the greatest contempt. Hint - a nine letter word beginning with "h" and ending with "ypocrisy."

Posted by Malcolm+ at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 6:23pm BST

NP, of course I reject Lambeth 1.10 and support every Archbishop, Bishop, priest and lay person who does the same.

Lambeth 1.10 does not have status as official teaching of the church. If you tell me it does, you are not Anglican. Neither the Lambeth Conference nor the Primates meeting have authority to impose anything on individual provinces. They have a moral authority, but that authority is weakened when it is used to try and impose something so obviously (to me) abusive and unChristian.

Archbishop Rowan is struggling for a unity which includes you and me. I have been a baptised Anglican for 61 years, a priest for 28. I am not threatening to split the church, leave the church, ordain bishops for other Provinces. I support the open ordination of lesbian and gay priests and bishops.

I'm not demanding rights in the Communion, as you put it. I am asking the church to confirm honestly and openly what it did for me 28 years ago. I was ordained into the church as a gay man who was not asked to promise to be celibate. I am asking the church to be honest about her LGBT members now and to change the teaching of the church when the teaching is abusive towards LGBT people.

Posted by Colin Coward at Monday, 24 September 2007 at 7:25pm BST

"I am asking the church to be honest about her LGBT members now and to change the teaching of the church when the teaching is abusive towards LGBT people."


And that is the key point. The Church is irrationally abusive towards LGBT people. It's long past time for it to stop - and at this point I don't think people will rest until it does stop.

The problem lies in the way the Church escapes facing its own abusive and destructive behavior: it objectifies LGBT people. It doesn't think of us as human beings at all, because it can't afford to. And that is the thing that must and will change; the Church must and will be made to face the consequences of its behavior at last. It will have to look us in the face, instead of endlessly blathering on about us in closed meetings.

The church will have to stop pointing its finger at LGBT people; it will have to address its own problems at last. (It will thank us later.)

Posted by bls at Tuesday, 25 September 2007 at 1:43am BST

Celibate means unmarried, chaste means abstaining from sexual activity, I wish people would maintain the distinction and not talk ambiguous nonsense.

Posted by precision at Tuesday, 25 September 2007 at 8:59am BST


It is great that you have your own website to expand on ideas. That idea was canvassed and approved here when the word count was brought in (a bunch of nasty conservatives tried to overwhelm the site and the limit was instated at that time). Simon has on a number of times affirmed it is okay to link to your own site or longer articles elsewhere.

Welcome, I've enjoyed your contributions. Be warned, if you are seen as a competent technically savvy of liberal Christian tendencies, expect nasty postings. They do it to everyone. SOS if they are too bad and we'll send in the back up team, don't let them win, if they defeat you then weaker souls have no advance guard.

I love the snatching defeat from the jaws of victory imagery. Another one "It's our way or the highway. Drats! We've put them on the holy highways to Zion where there are no ferocious beasts!" (Isaiah 35:3-10) Shades of the Pharoah writhing as he realised he accidentally set free his slaves...

You know, Jesus was actually quite vague about judgement relating to sexuality e.g. Jesus refused to stone the adulterous woman John 8:7, Jesus began his public ministry revealing himself to a woman who lived with a man and called him husband, but he was not really her husband and not even her first or only one at that (John 4:7-26). Then the first witnesses after his resurrection were women.

Apparently, Jesus seemed to think that his atoning sacrifice ended the curse rippling out from Cheva and that women and those of dubious sexual history were welcome before God. Actually, looking at the scriptures, they appeared to be more welcome than the Teachers of Law that Jesus saw would contrive his death and attempt to kill his church and teachings.

Hmm... to be a sinner but loved by Jesus or a sycophant to a Teacher of Law who relies on accusation and tyranny to perpetuate their hateful theology? Gee. Shucks. I think I'll choose Jesus.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Tuesday, 25 September 2007 at 10:46am BST

Precision wrote "Celibate means unmarried, chaste means abstaining from sexual activity"

I always took celibate meaning to refrain from sex with another being and chaste to mean modest (i.e. not easy to get or avoids indiscrete sexual activies).

Supporting links

The thing that intrigues me is that Precision has emphasised one element of celibacy and I have been more aware of another.

How does Precision classify someone who does not engage with sex with another living entity, but relies on masturbation to satisfy their sexual needs?

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Tuesday, 25 September 2007 at 12:31pm BST

+Rowan alludes to homosexuality not being a disease. This is of course anathema to the conservatives, many of whom say precisely that, and who quote propaganda masquerading as science to back that up. This goes along with some African bishops claiming there was no homosexuality in Africa before the coming of the white man, a statement similar to Ahmedinajad's "we don't have homosexuals in Iran" statement yesterday at Columbia University. Of course they do, those they haven't executed. CBC did a short piece on gay people in Iran, it can be seen on Youtube. Conservatives who don't understand might want to watch it and listen for once. That is the situation that many fear will develop in Nigeria. Perhaps watching such a piece will help people understand why the hateful rhetoric of the Right is so frightening and maddening to those whose fight has made it possible for them to live more or less free of such evil.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 25 September 2007 at 1:02pm BST

Precision wrote: "Celibate means unmarried, chaste means abstaining from sexual activity, I wish people would maintain the distinction and not talk ambiguous nonsense."

Chaste means chaste, not abstaining. It is about not indulging or abusing anything or any body.

"Moderation, Grace divine" as the Ancients put it.

It has nothing to do with being married or not.

Abstention is a different thing. It starts with Water (for drinking and otherwise), then soap, then bread, then commodité (sorry no English word for that), last comes sex (a Modern to late Modern concept, un-known where and when I was a child).

All this is anti Modern Social Politics, post 1960/70.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 25 September 2007 at 1:11pm BST

Colin - well, someone should have taught you before you were ordained that the scriptures, as understood by the CofE for centuries and still today, do require certain standards of its vicars....... these requirements are set out quite clearly by the CofE, are they not?

"Don't ask, don't tell policies" may have allowed some people to ignore certain CofE requirements - but I really do not see any honour in that.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 7:31am BST

""Don't ask, don't tell policies" may have allowed some people to ignore certain CofE requirements - but I really do not see any honour in that."

Indeed! All my friends tell me that all the time when they talk about the hypocrisy of the Christian Right. "Don't ask, don't tell" has allowed many self hating gay people to put on the breastplate of righteousness and be as homophobic as possible to hide the truth and the Church has graciously helped them do it in this fashion. Then people like you admire their holiness and principle in standing for the Gospel! No honour in either of those things. While we're on the subject, no honour in accusing others of that of which one is guilty one'sself. No honour in lying and slandering those with whom you disagree. No honour in denying their faith. No honour in creating a myth of persecution with which to slander your opponents. No honour in defending oppression. No honour in preaching propaganda and lies as truth. Indeed, no honour in much of what you seem to think is Godly behaviour, by your defence of it.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 12:57pm BST

Ford - any honour in avoiding the primary issue by raising fifteen others?

Two wrongs do not make a right

1 Cor 5:12 We do have to make judgments in the church, even though we are all sinners, to make sure it is in line with God's will and not ours.

Posted by NP at Thursday, 27 September 2007 at 9:35am BST
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