Church of England to begin sexuality ‘conversations’

The Church of England is to begin talks on whether to authorise prayers to mark same-sex relationships.

The question is raised in the resources published this week to go with the “shared conversations” on sexuality which are about to enter their second stage.

The “second circle” of the shared conversations, set up last year in an attempt to resolve the Church’s crisis over sexuality, will begin regionally in April. The dioceses will meet in 13 “clusters” of between three and five dioceses at venues across England between April this year and March next year.

The groups will consist of gay and straight clergy and laity.

One of the questions the groups are being asked to consider is: “Should the church offer prayers to mark the formation of a faithful, permanent, same sex relationship? If so, what is the right level of formal provision that should be made?”

Although the question is explicit, sources told Christian Today that this was in no way meant to infer there was an “intended outcome” of any kind.

A further question asks: “More specifically, given that same sex marriages are now taking place, what should our pastoral and missional response be to married same sex couples who seek to be part of the life of our church locally?”

The Church of England’s position has traditionally been that, whatever their faith, a couple is entitled to be married in the parish church of either, although marriage after divorce is less straightforward.

When same-sex marriage became legal in Britain last year, the Church of England, which opposed the legislation, won “protection” in law for itself from ever having to perform one.

This means that some couples who are legally entitled to marry cannot now do so in their own parish Church, even if they are practising Christians and have been churchgoers all their lives.

One of the difficulties for the Church of England is the consequences of a change of mind for the wider Anglican Communion, of which it is the “mother” church. Some Anglican provinces function in countries where homosexuality is illegal and carries serious penalties.

The questions in the conversations also ask: “How might parish churches in England reflect upon the responsibilities of being part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, in ways which remain true to their vocation to witness to God effectively in their local context?”

Those taking part are being asked to consider whether the concept of “pastoral accommodation” might help Anglicans to honour the consciences of fellow Christians while recognising that the church’s present teaching on sexuality has not changed.

In a paper put forward for the conversations arguing for the traditional, Biblical position, Dr Ian Paul, honorary assistant professor at Nottingham university, concludes: “It has been claimed that the biblical texts do not speak to our current context, since they show no knowledge of stable, same-sex, committed relations. But this is not the case; we know from other ancient texts that same-sex relations took a variety of forms. Though unequal, pederastic relations were the most common, equal partnerships akin to same-sex marriage were not unknown.

“It would therefore be more accurate to say that the biblical texts show no interest in the form that same-sex relations take. Scripture rejects the notion of ‘orientation’ as of defining significance in human identity, instead putting the binary identity of gender at the centre of its theological anthropology.”

In another paper, Canon Loveday Alexander, emeritus professor of Biblical studies at Sheffield university, says just “walking away” from the Bible is not an option for himself or the Church. “We can’t just abandon this text which has nourished the life of faith for two millennia. I can’t turn my back on a text which has sustained and informed my own faith for as long as I can remember. We have to stay with the Bible — but we have to find a way of making sense of it, in a world that is very different from the world (or rather worlds) in which it was written.”

But Dr Philip Groves, of the Anglican Communion, says in a third paper that the answer is not in choosing one option over another, or in finding a compromise that holds the strengths and weaknesses of each option in tension. “The answer is to aim for both.”

He concludes: “The radical step asked of the Church of England in deciding to enter into good disagreement is to find the energy for this mission. It is about reconnecting with society and discovering faithfulness. It is about relevance and identity. It will be hard, but it will be rewarding.

“The process will need to reflect theological diversity and to do this it will need to develop trust and relationships between unlike people so that the Scriptures and traditions of the Church can be properly examined and ways of faithfulness emerge.

“The time has come for good disagreement.”

Jayne Ozanne, director of Accepting Evangelicals, who recently “came out” as gay in an interview with Christian Today, welcomed the publication of the “conversations” timetable and resources.

She said the key was to accept there were different ways of reading Scripture. “What we are looking at is creating that middle space of accepting, as we have done with other issues, that there is an integrity to someone’s faith if they hold a different view on this.”

She said it was critical for the Church to create forums where people of different views could engage “safely” with each other.

“For me, Jesus embodied grace and truth. It is about grace, and understanding the hurt of those who hold a different point of view. For too long this has been a hot issue, a theological debate which has been a battle of words.

“When you embody these words in experience and personal testimony as we see Jesus did, I believe they take on a new meaning and authority.”

The conversations were just the start.

She called for reassurances of a “safe space” for all those taking part, including the suspension of any disciplinary measures against clergy. There are fears that clergy who share things in the conversations that might technically be against the rules, such as experience of a gay physical relationship, could be vulnerable to disciplinary action.

Ms Ozanne said: “For some, their very livelihoods are on the line. Words can never be unspoken. It is absolutely crucial that we look to our bishops to accept a moratorium on clergy discipline throughout these two years.”

Lambeth Palace staff sees split in the offing for the CoE

gay marriage
George Conger
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff believes the Church of England could lose up to 20 percent of its members in the fight over gay marriage, which it expects to come to a head at the February 2017 meeting of General Synod.

These claims came in a blog post made by the Rev. Colin Coward, MBE, the director of the Church of England lobbying group Changing Attitude, after he and other key leaders of the group met last month with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s director of reconciliation, Canon David Porter.

The report, which has since been taken down from the group’s website, offered a detailed summary of the conversation at Lambeth Palace – and its contents have prompted concerns from some commentators that the “Shared Conversation” process of facilitated listening over the issue of homosexuality has been compromised.

On leading Church of England conservative told Anglican Ink, that he was not disinclined to disbelieve the report, in light of history. He explained that the debate had been a one-way ratchet, with movement only towards the progressive side.

Canon Porter told Fr. Coward the “Shared Conversation” process had so far been a disappointment. It had been designed so as to give equal moral and intellectual weight to the Church’s traditional teachings and understanding of Scripture against the arguments for those favoring change. Small group discussions on the diocesan level were to be balanced along ideological lines. However, the process “as hoped because the culture of good facilitation met the culture of the College of Bishops and some of the old school bishops refused to play ball. Good process hit the dysfunctional nature of the Church of England.”

“The intention” of the Shared Conversation project was “to change the tone of the conversation and take some of the toxicity out of it, acknowledging that there is no agreement between, say, us and Reform (the Conservative Evangelical group),” Fr. Coward wrote.

He stated the Archbishop’s staff was prepared for split over the issue. “David assumes there will be a fracture and when it happens, it will be small and done with profound sadness, with a measure of grace, disagreeing well. … Maybe 80% of the C of E will hold together with fractures at either end of the spectrum.”

Canon Porter was also claimed to have said the Church of England was the “primary problem” province of the Anglican Communion because the wider Communion “no longer really know what the Church of England is.”

The issue of homosexuality would likely come to a head after the February 2017 meeting of General Synod, Canon Porter told Changing Attitude, and the schism shortly thereafter. “David believes the General Synod can’t put off a debate and vote on the core issues affecting the place of LGBTI people in the Church of England beyond the February 2017 meeting. This for me was the most significant new piece information I gained on Tuesday. David does not control the timetable or agenda of General Synod but he does have direct authority from the Archbishop of Canterbury, so this ambition may well be realized.”

The veracity of Fr Coward’s report cannot be confirmed. Asked to comment a spokesman for Lambeth Palace told Anglican Ink: “Unlike others, we do not comment on private meetings. Private conversations have been offered and held with individuals and groups from a range of views and constituencies within the church to enable the process to move forward addressing the concerns that each have expressed.”

Taking into consideration the source of the report and interpreted through their experiences, the English conservatives contacted by AI stated they believe the report to be substantially correct, with key bishops holding fast for the church’s traditional teachings. The abdication of the teaching office by the Archbishop of Canterbury in favor of becoming a referee, said the sources who asked not to be identified, coupled with the progressives hold over the central apparatus of the church, made a split likely. The true issue, however, was not how many left the Church of England, but which of its members withdrew.

Christians March for Life Plus Some Methodist Mockery

IMG_1388.PNGYesterday’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. was a tremendous day both as a demonstration for human rights and a display of Christian unity. Catholic bishops marched with Anglican bishops and Orthodox clergy, with Lutheran and Southern Baptist leaders.

In the morning I attended an Evangelicals for life seminar co-hosted by the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Commission, featuring its leader Russell Moore and Hispanic Evangelical Samuel Rodriguez. March for Life President Jeanne Monahan, a Catholic with an angelic disposition, thanked Evangelicals for their ecumenical solidarity. Moore smilingly explained that future matches don’t need fewer rosaries but do need more Evangelicals. A fiery young Southern Baptist pastor shared his testimony of complicity in the “murder” of his own child by abortion at age 21, after which he sought God’s mercy.

Back at the IRD office, 12 Anglican bishops, including Archbishop Foley Beach, joined us for brunch in what has become a cherished annual tradition. Afterwards, IRD staff and bishops together joined many thousands for the march down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the unofficial pro-life caucus of United Methodism hosted its annual service in the Methodist Building chapel. United Methodist theologian Edgardo Colón-Emeric of Duke Divinity School delivered a thoughtful message on the “luminosity of life,” citing St. Thomas Aquinas. General Board of Church and Society chief Susan Henry Crowe, even though her agency is not pro-life, courteously attended the service.

Sadly, one of her colleagues was less courteous. Her agency’s “Director of Civil and Human Rights” Bill Mefford tweeted a sarcastic photo of himself outside among pro-life marchers with a sign proclaiming: “I March for Sandwiches.” His tweet further explained: “I was inspired by the march for life to march for what I believe in!”

Har-har-har, and no doubt he did. Mefford’s bio on the GBCS website explains his job entails opposing the death penalty. But while defending several hundred convicted murderers evidently is imperative, the nearly 1 million unborn children destroyed every year in America apparently are a topic of mirth.

Unfortunately, Mefford’s sign and tweet embody the lack of moral seriousness in much of modern Methodism’s social witness. Some day, this church’s social witness will be redeemed. Some day.

But Mefford’s antic in no way detracted from the powerful Christian witness of more dignified church leaders. Check out some photos below, especially the robed Anglican bishops in a prayer circle.

Church of England gets wrong about discipleship

Ascension Trust
Discipleship is worked out in ministries such as Street Pastors, but the Church of England lacks a clear discipleship theology.

The Church of England’s understanding of ministry is “lopsided”, its mission is too narrowly focused on the Church and it is failing to equip Christians to live out their faith in daily life, says a new report to be presented to the General Synod next month.

Introduced by the Bishop of Sheffield, Rt Rev Steven Croft, the Developing Discipleship report says that there are “significant obstacles” to the growth of individuals in the Church, among them a concentration on the development of ministers at the expense of lay people. In an Archbishop’s Council survey, “It was widely perceived that the biggest obstacle in lay development is the clericalised culture of church and ministry.”

While lay discipleship is worked out through initiatives such as foodbanks, Street Pastors and other forms of ministry, the report says that the “lack of a coherent and concisely stated common understanding of discipleship” means that “Our vision for the Church and for discipleship is not as clear as it could be,” that “Our understanding of service becomes restricted to the life of the Church” and that “Our theological understanding of ministry becomes lopsided” as lay people are marginalised.

It says: “Finally, and most seriously, the witness and mission of the whole Church is impoverished as Christians are neither encouraged nor sustained in the living out of their Christian faith in daily life.”

The report proposes adopting 10 “marks of a diocese committed to developing disciples”, including recognising gifts of leadership among lay people and encouraging innovation and experimentation.

Introducing the report, Bishop Croft said: “The main focus of the paper is the need for the Church of England to take more seriously the call to all of us, lay and ordained, to be and to become a community of missionary disciples called to love God, to love one another and to love God’s world.”

An online comment forum has been created to allow Anglicans to engage with the issues that Developing Disciples indentifies.

The report comes after the Archbishops of Canterbury and York warned that decline in the Church of England had to be reversed if it were to continue its nation-wide ministry. Average attendance at Sunday services has dropped by nearly half during the last 40 years and currently stands at around 800,000.

“If 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France”

The words of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls echo down the centuries of anti-Semitic Europe, where Jews have been marginalised, persecuted, reviled, expelled and turned to ash in the ovens of Auschwitz. France could survive the emigration of any ethnic group, he avers. But if the Jews leave, “France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”

His comments are published in The Atlantic, in an interview he gave to Jeffery Goldberg before the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the subsequent murder of four Jews in a kosher delicatessen in Paris. Given what he calls the “intensifying crisis”, Goldberg hastened publication of certain sections of the interview because of the demographic reality that thousands of Jews are certainly fleeing France. Indeed, Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicletweeted: “Every single French Jew I know has either left or is actively working out how to leave.” Manuel Valls insists that France must do more to halt the exodus. He explains:

The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens. To understand what the idea of the Republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle.

..If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.

..Jews were sometimes marginalized in France, but this was not Spain or other countries – they were never expelled, and they play a role in the life of France that is central.

..There is a new anti-Semitism in France. We have the old anti-Semitism, and I’m obviously not downplaying it, that comes from the extreme right, but this new anti-Semitism comes from the difficult neighborhoods, from immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who have turned anger about Gaza into something very dangerous. Israel and Palestine are just a pretext. There is something far more profound taking place now.

..It is legitimate to criticize the politics of Israel. This criticism exists in Israel itself. But this is not what we are talking about in France. This is radical criticism of the very existence of Israel, which is anti-Semitic. There is an incontestable link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Behind anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.

..The Jews of France are profoundly attached to France but they need reassurance that they are welcome here, that they are secure here.

Prime Minister Valls may speak with piercing clarity on the nature and scale of the evil, and President Hollande may be equally unequivocal in his recognition of this “new anti-Semitism” (though it isn’t entirely clear what is “new” about oppressing Jews). And yet it is reported by Haaretz (and tweeted by Channel 4′s Jon Snow) that Hollande urged Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend the Paris march for freedom and unity: “Hollande wanted the event to focus on demonstrating solidarity with France, and to avoid anything liable to divert attention to other controversial issues, like Jewish-Muslim relations or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Audibert said that Hollande hoped that Netanyahu would understand the difficulties his arrival might pose and would announce that he would not be attending.”

Which is curious, because the murder of four Jews in a kosher deli might just have something to do with Jewish-Muslim relations. And journalists have fallen over themselves to suggest that Israeli policy toward Gaza explains (if not justifies) attacks on Jewish people, institutions and economic interests. “Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well,” said the BBC’s Tim Willcox to the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. The same sentiment is found in the Financial Times: basically, the political provocation known as Zionism offends against justice and peace, so taking up AK-47s against Jews – whether they are Israeli or not; whether they support Israeli policy or not – may be rationalised and justified. As Tim Willcox enlightens us: “You see, people see it from all sides.”

Don’t they just.

The suffering of Palestinians is caused not by Israel, but devised and formed by “Jewish hands”. Willcox didn’t say those hands offend and must be cut off, but he might as well have. When Jews are victimised, their businesses raided, their synagogues bombed and their cemeteries desecrated – and journalists and politicians justify this by objecting to ‘offensive’ cartoons and pointing to the plight of Palestinians – it is no wonder that Jews are leaving Europe for a safer home.

A survey published in November 2013 by the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union observed that Jews across Europe “face insults, discrimination and physical violence, which despite concerted efforts by both the EU and its member states, shows no signs of fading into the past”. Two-thirds considered anti-Semitism to be a problem across the countries surveyed. Overall, 76% of respondents said that anti-Semitism had worsened over the past five years.

In the last International Religious Freedom Report issued by the US Department of State, tucked away amidst the horrors being perpetrated in Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, we find this:

Throughout Europe, the historical stain of anti-Semitism continued to be a fact of life on Internet fora, in soccer stadiums, and through Nazi-like salutes, leading many individuals who are Jewish to conceal their religious identity.

..Rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment in parts of Europe demonstrated that intolerance is not limited to countries in active conflict. The European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) survey of perceptions of anti-Semitism among Jews in eight member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and United Kingdom), released in November, found that in some countries as many as 48 percent of the local Jewish population had considered emigrating because of anti-Semitism.

You see, it isn’t only France: incredibly, half of the Jewish populations of many European countries are so fearful, intimidated and oppressed that they are considering leaving their homes, families and communities and emigrating to a foreign land. Cries of “Death to the Jews” ring across towns and cities as the spectre of Nazi ghettos descends once again. “They pursue the Jews in the streets of Berlin… as if we were in 1938,” says Israel’s Ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman. He has also heard chants of “Jewish pigs” and “Gas the Jews”. “Since March 2012, I am ambassador of Israel in Germany,” he said. “If someone had told me that I witnessed such hateful, incites hatred and anti-Semitic phenomena would be in public in this country, I would not probably have thought it possible.”

Jews are being advised not to go out onto the streets wearing a kippah. In Toulouse, Jewish children are shot in a Jewish school. In Brussels, people are randomly killed in a Jewish museum: if they happen to be Jews or Israelis, all the better. In Liege, a café displayed a sign in its window which said dogs were welcome, but Jews were not allowed to enter.

This is Christian Europe, which, of all the continents of the world, ought to feel the deepest shame at the rise of this “new anti-Semitism”. And the oppressors are not all hardened Islamists obligingly plotting their next spectacular on SnapChat and WhatsApp for the convenience of MI5: no, many are simply ordinary but angry, young, male Muslims, itching for some self-proclaimed imam to issue the Call to Jihad.

To these young male Muslims, the Israeli occupation of Gaza is a certain grievance, but the Jewish occupations of Paris, London and Amsterdam also need sorting. To the media, they may be male; they may be Asian or “of Asian appearance”. But no, they may not be called Muslim, for that would cause great offence. These extremists, Baroness Warsi insists, “do not follow any faith”. Sajid Javid, the first elected Muslim to join the Cabinet, is not so blind: “The lazy answer from people out there is to say that this had got nothing whatsoever to do with Islam and Muslims and that should be the end of that part of the debate,” he said. “That is lazy and that would be wrong. You can’t get away from the fact that these people are using Islam, they are taking a great religion, a peaceful religion of a billion people around the world, taking this religion and using it as their tool to carry out their horrible activities.”

The Jews are leaving Europe not because the Jihadists are coming, but because they are already here, dwelling among us. They hate Israel and they loathe Jews, but, pace Manuel Valls, we say almost nothing and do very little. Instead, we let the Jews emigrate to the United States or “go back” to Israel, and they are doing so in their thousands every year. In the Holy Land they may be surrounded on all sides by the enemies of Zionism, but at least they have in Benjamin Netanyahu the leader of a government which will not hesitate to shelter and defend them. It will even bury their martyred bodies in fortified Jewish cemeteries in Jerusalem, where their sanctified graves will never be defiled with swastikas.

Free speech is sacrosanct – as long as you worship the Gods of the liberal elite

There is a stench wafting down from Mount Pompous. The liberal elite, who inhabit Mount Pompous, are generating such a stink of hypocrisy it is difficult to stand.

“United” in their condemnation of the Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris, we are told freedom of speech will not be defeated. They will defend – Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the muppets who cannot protect their own people from some idiot losers getting their hands on AK47s – the freedom to offend. This from the PC Brigade!

This stench of hypocrisy is so overpowering because it comes from those architects and defenders of the PC agenda who depend entirely on shutting down debate that offends the new liberal-PC norms. The entire raison d’etre of the PC agenda is  essentially to outlaw thoughts and speech deemed beyond the pale. Anything that offends with be mercilessly rooted out.

You can offend religion, or the religious. That is fine. But you cannot offend the secularists Gods of Equality and Diversity for instance. Now, I will accept that the PC police will not shoot you for offending the PC/Liberal Gods, but they will attempt to ruin you and your livelihood. Demanding resignations is now stock in trade for anyone who does not toe the Liberal line.

It was only last week that the resignation of none other than that hapless jobsworth Gordon Taylor was demanded for making an idiotic comparison between the campaign for justice by the families of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster and Ched Evans, who maintains his innocence against a conviction for rape. Sure, this was stupid but did not justify calls for his resignation.

When the welfare reform minister Lord Freud suggested ways of improving employment prospects for people with disabilities, including the option of paying them less than the minimum wage, the braying PC mob – including those in his own party – wasted no time in demanding his resignation.

Ed Miliband said: ‘It’s very serious. He didn’t just say that disabled people weren’t worth the minimum wage, he went further and said he was looking – and I quote – whether there is something we can do if someone wants to work for £2 an hour. Surely someone holding those views can’t stay in his Cabinet.’

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries was one of the few to call a spade a spade saying that Labour was whipping up a ‘faux outrage, PC trial by Twitter.’ Lord Freud had to issue the usual groveling apology to keep his job.

The ‘colourful’ Michael Fabricant MP (who no person in their right mind should take seriously) also found himself lynched by the PC Brigade when he expressed his less than PC views about The Independent’s sanctimonious Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

After she and Rod Liddle got into a bunfight on Channel 4 News, where she expressed her delight about being able tell Mr Liddle to his face how much she hated him, Fabricant tweeted: “I could never be on a discussion prog with Alibhai-Brown as I would either end up with a brain haemorrhage or by punching her in the throat. You can read the usual outrage – if you are bothered – here.

So on and on it goes. Ironically, even those at the forefront of the PC agenda can be caught out. It was some time back that Diane Abbott MP faced calls to resign after she tweeted “white people love playing divide and rule. We should not play their game”. She survived.

MPs should be fired for being incompetent or useless in their work, criminal, or indeed dodgy financially. But the PC Brigade want more than this. They want total obedience to PC views – or else.

What is so galling in the last week is how the PC Brigade have been extolling the necessity of having the freedom to offend while, on the other hand, they waste no time rounding on anyone who dares offend any of their own beliefs. So you can be free to offend – as long as you are willing to resign.

Unbelievably, the PC elite are even using the terrorist attacks to shut down any debate that does not fit the “we are all in this together” agenda. If anyone – as Nigel Farage did – raises issues that go beyond this, he is shouted down as a ‘making a political point’ (can you imagine – a politician being political?) and his comments being ‘sickening’. All this heretical talk will only divide us – which is what the terrorists want – so shut up.

We can expect this stench from Mount Pompous to continue for some time. I am seeking refuge.

Why I Am Not Negotiating On Christian Sexual Morality
January 8, 2015

To those who say the Reform voice should be heard in the House of Bishops’ facilitated conversations on human sexuality in order to maintain the unity of the Spirit among disagreeing Anglicans, your curate would respectfully respond as follows:

Biblical sexual morality is a first order issue on which all of us who profess Christian faith are called to holiness. Negotiating on this would surely be contrary to the Apostle Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5 when he commanded that within the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ ‘fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints’ (v3 — NRSV). He went on to say in v5: Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

As is clearly recognised in our Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer in its Solemnization of Holy Matrimony, fornication is defined biblically as any form of sexual intercourse outside of heterosexual marriage.

In the light of Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 5, it is clear that, when he exhorted the Church in Ephesians 4 ‘to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’, he expected such unity to be firmly grounded in Apostolic truth and its ethical entailments. The choice by professing Christians to reject Apostolic truth in important spiritual and ethical matters addressed by the New Testament is thus by its very nature antithetical to the unity of the Spirit and disruptive of it.

To apply this to the facilitated conversations, in which the voices of those who have departed from the truth of the New Testament on human sexuality are being treated as legitimately Christian, surely it would not be maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace to participate. For the same reason, it would not be right to participate in any ecclesiastical negotiation in which equivocations about the biblical doctrine of the Trinity were accepted as Christian.

By God’s grace, there are other ways in which the orthodox Anglican voice can be heard – through preaching, synodical debate at which a vote to uphold the received teaching of the Church is offered and in the media. These ways do not involve negotiating but rather contending for biblical truth.

The Rev. Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge in Sheffield Diocese

Gay marriage and the death of freedom

Rather than striking a blow for individual liberties, the dogma of gay marriage is stifling them/>

By Brendan O’Neill
December 6, 2014

Has there ever been a sweeter-sounding, more goosebump-inducing phrase than ‘Freedom to marry’? Everyone likes freedom (even illiberal politicians pay lip service to liberty), and who doesn’t love a good wedding? Marry these two things together (pun intended) and you end up with an endorphin-releasing buzzphrase that will make anyone grin wildly.

So it has been following Senator David Leyonhjelm’s unveiling of the Freedom to Marry Bill. Across Oz, right-minded people who think gays must be allowed to get hitched experienced paroxysms of joy at the introduction of this new phrase into the political vernacular. Sure, those of a leftish bent had trouble computing the fact that it’s a classical liberal politician who’s championing their most beloved cause. But the instant they made peace with this seeming anomaly, they, together with small-l liberals, gay-rights activists and the Age-reading patrons of non-chain coffee shops across the land (well, in Melbourne), were giving themselves adrenalin rushes by whispering those three magic words: ‘Freedom to marry…’

I hate to rain on this fabulous parade, but there’s a massive problem with this happy-clappy rallying cry. And it’s this: everywhere gay marriage has been introduced it has battered freedom, not boosted it. Debate has been chilled, dissenters harried, critics tear-gassed. Love and marriage might go together like horse and carriage, but freedom and gay marriage certainly do not. The double-thinking ‘freedom to marry’ has done more to power the elbow of the state than it has to expand the liberty of men and women.
There are awkward questions the ‘freedom to marry’ folks just can’t answer. Like: if gay marriage is a liberal cause, how come it’s been attended by authoritarianism wherever it’s been introduced?

Consider France. Hundreds of thousands of French people — or ‘bigots’, as the gay-marriage lobby brands anyone who disagrees with it — marched against the legalisation of gay marriage in 2013. And they were beaten and tear-gassed by riot cops. Parisians in t-shirts celebrating traditional marriage were arrested for holding ‘unauthorised protests’. In the words of Parisian writer John Laughland, critics of gay marriage were turned into ‘ideological enemies’ of the French state. It’s a funny expansion of freedom that so violently pummels the right to protest.

Consider America. The authorities there haven’t had to whip out their truncheons because non-state mobs have policed the opponents of gay marriage on their behalf. In the words of the author Damon Linker, a supporter of gay marriage, Americans who raise even a peep of criticism of gay marriage face ‘ostracism from public life’. We saw this with the medieval hounding of Brendan Eich out of his job at Mozilla after it was revealed that — oh, the humanity! — he isn’t a massive fan of gays getting married. Linker says the gay-marriage brigade has created a menacing climate, where the aim seems to be to ‘stamp out rival visions’. Americans who fail to bow at the altar of same-sex hitching, from wedding photographers to cake-makers, are harassed and boycotted and sometimes put out of business. The ‘freedom to marry’ clearly trumps the freedom of conscience.

Consider Britain. One of the first things gay campaigners here did when they won the right to marry was demand Catholic schools be forced to teach that gay marriage is as good as straight; even though they don’t believe this. Screw you, freedom of religion. Perhaps Catholic schools should bring back ‘priest holes’ to discuss their beliefs free from the watchful stare of the gay-marriage lobby, which, in Linker’s words, demands ‘psychological acceptance’ of gay marriage from all.

Why is this alleged freedom so feverishly embraced by politicians who can’t spell the word freedom? There’s David Cameron, demolisher of press freedom; French officials, so allergic to liberty that they won’t let Muslim women wear what they want; Obama, Christendom’s spymaster-in-general. What draws such freedom-fearing rulers to the ‘freedom to marry’? It’s simple: gay marriage has diddly-squat to do with freedom. Rather, this new institution, invented from pure cloth by tiny numbers of sharp-suited lawyers and agitators, is better seen as a Trojan horse for the enforcement of a new morality, one which calls into question the old virtues of lifelong commitment and familial sovereignty and replaces them with the flightiness and flexibility more commonly associated with gay relationships. ‘Gay marriage’ is the lick of paint modern society gives to its own discomfort with the traditional family set-up and its desire to dismantle, or at least dent, that set-up in favour of pushing new, post-traditional, state-defined hook-ups.

Twenty-five years ago, American thinker Christopher Lasch argued that ‘progressive rhetoric has the effect of concealing social crisis and moral breakdown by presenting them as the birth pangs of a new order’. Bingo! There’s no better description of gay marriage. Here, too, progressive-sounding rhetoric is really the dolling-up of our atomised, risk-averse societies’ growing disdain for those deep relationships in which families and communities traditionally socialised the next generation, mostly away from the prying eyes of the state. This is why the gay-marriage campaign is so contradictorily illiberal, so hostile to dissent, and so attractive to petty-authoritarian politicians: because it isn’t about expanding liberty at all; it’s about unilaterally overhauling the moral outlook of the traditionalist sections of society and elevating the commitment-phobic, passion-lite, short-termist values of the chattering classes instead.
Aussie campaigners for the ‘Freedom to marry’ are actually lucky that the PM isn’t cheering their moral crusade. Because this means that when they finally win this illiberal liberty — which they unquestionably will — they’ll be able to present it as a great victory for civil libertarians who bravely took on The Man. When in truth, their victory will be built on the spilt blood of French protesters and the trampled-upon right to dissent of Americans and Britons and the transformation of gay marriage by Western political elites into a new orthodoxy that you question at your peril.

Poor Mr Leyonhjelm — he thinks he’s striking a blow for liberty, when really he’s completing the final act in a pink-tinged tyranny kickstarted by the new authoritarians of the modern West.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 6 December 2014 Aus


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WATCH Response to ‘Headship’ Bishop

woman bishops

WATCH is disappointed to read that the Church of England is set to appoint a Bishop based predominantly on a narrow theology of ‘Headship’ (ie. a Conservative Evangelical who believes only men should be in positions of overall leadership).

Evangelicalism has long been a much broader tradition than one defined by its position on the ordination and consecration of women. We believe that to choose a bishop based on one specific view, held by only a small group, can only serve to be divisive. It is likely to lead to the separation of parishes from one another within a local area and diocese, when the whole thrust of the legislative package for women to be bishops was that we would remain together in our work and mission.

In a separate development, we are keen to know whether the Archbishop of York will consecrate the newly appointed Bishop of Burnley, Rev Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women. It would seem to us bizarre if a suffragan bishop declined to be consecrated by his own archbishop and even his own diocesan bishop, because he did not recognise them as bishops.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH says: ‘We have never accepted the appointment of any bishop on the grounds of a particular minority belief: this is distinctly un-Anglican and unorthodox. This goes far beyond disagreement about the ordination of women: it is about bishops recognising each other as bishops. If we lose that, what kind of unity are we demonstrating as a national church?’

Advent Resources


Advent1. Advent Bible Reading Plans

Scripture Union USA: ‘Take The Essential Journey to Bethlehem this Advent’ – Spend just a few minutes each day following the Bible’s story of Jesus’ birth

The Dawning of Indestructable Joy: Daily Readings for Advent – John Piper – free download
and he has daily devotionals
Good links to Bible reading plans for Advent and Christmas from Bible dot com
Billy Graham Advent Readings


2. UK Calendars and Daily Readings

The Archbishop of York’s Advent Calendar – daily readings and reflections
24-7 Prayer: ‘When God comes near’ – helpful daily reflections but no verses and prayer time this year.
and onYoutube
Advent Church Calendar – Premier Christian Radio daily readings starting with Canon Andrew White
Angels, Dreams, Stars, Visions – online Daily Reflections from St John’s College Nottingham
Advent in 60 Seconds – daily reflections from Tim Sanderson at Holy Trinity Jesmond
Live the Challenge from the diocese of St Albans


3. For Families and Children

Love Life, Live Advent –  25 resources including social media – Paula Gooder and Peter Babington
Archbishop Sentamu recommendation:
Animations of the Christmas Bible Story from Scripture Union England and Wales
more resources here suitable for groups
A family Jesse Tree from the Diocese of Bath and Wells


4. Challenges from Mission Agencies and others

Advent Conspiracy 2014 – Worship fully, Spend less, Give more, Love all
Bible Society Advent Challenge – requires registering
Awaiting Christ Together: Weekly Anglican Primates’ messages – Anglican Relief and Development Fund


5. US

Trinity School for Ministry Daily Advent Devotional
The Second Coming – Daily Bible teaching from Bishop Julian Dobbs
Lent and Beyond Advent links [check out those in the right hand column as well]
and their 2014 Advent entries


6. New Zealand

Advent features and links from Bosco Peters
The early story of the Bible in New Zealand
An Advent voyage to Oihi Beach – Anglican Taonga
more about the 200th Gospel Anniversary commemoration in December


7. More Advent Links and Resources

Lent and Beyond Favorite 2014 Advent Resources – one of the broadest and most comprehensive sets of links
Evangelical Alliance have a good roundup
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have a roundup of links particularly from the charity sector
Diocese of Durham
Nearest UK Advent and Christmas services can be located here


8. Old Favourites

Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar 2014

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