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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pilling: It's all about Eve




It is ten years since Michael Kalmuk and his long-time partner Kelly Montfort recited their solemn Anglican vows that would bless their relationship in what was described as the World's first "official" Anglican same-sex blessing. They had been together for twenty-one years and spent much of their careers working with people with disabilities. Story here.

Unless one is homophobic it is difficult not to be touched by such a story but the Rev. Margaret Marquardt who conducted the ceremony said in her homily that it amounted to "an act of healing for gay and lesbian people throughout the Anglican church"! In another report here she is quoted as saying said that it was an affirmation of "God's presence" in the couple's relationship, making one wonder if she was familiar with the Bible or simply chose passages to re-interpret Holy Scripture  according to her will, now common practice in liberal Anglicanism. 

A similar story can be read in the report of House of Bishops Working Group on human sexuality, the Pilling Report, where natural sympathy leads to the wrong conclusion that members of the clergy should be allowed to offer blessings to same-sex couples (summary here). Another of the report's recommendations is that The whole Church is called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past, and to demonstrate the unconditional acceptance and love of God in Christ for all people. This it seems to me is the main thrust of the report. God loves all, we have been beastly to gays so same-sex unions should be blessed by the Church as an act of repentance. This conclusion ignores biblical facts but there was not unanimity. The report includes a dissenting statement by the Bishop of Birkenhead who said that he was "not persuaded that the biblical witness on same sex sexual behaviour is unclear". It is true that gays have been treated badly in society but I have not witnessed the reported lack of welcome and acceptance in the Church and don't know of anyone who does, quite the contrary.

The item in the report which I find most illuminating is the advice given by a female 'expert' which so baffled the Review Group that it is included as a separate Prologue "Living with holiness and desire". As Pilling remarks in his Forward, "One of our advisers, [the Rev Dr] Jessica Martin, challenged us to think about human sexuality more widely than most of our evidence was leading us to do. We asked her to write a paper which now forms the prologue to the report. We wanted to give others a chance to read it and reflect on it and we feared that, if we tried to integrate it into the main body of the report, much would be lost."

After her opening statement "Desire begins and ends with God", implying that its all His fault, the Rev Dr waffles on page after page implicating St Augustine of Hippo in the process before her aim is made apparent in the final sentence: "In Christ all things may be made new, every failure may be made the occasion of a generous forgiveness", or to put it another way as Pilling does, to demonstrate the unconditional acceptance and love of God in Christ for all people, ergo, same-sex blessings!

The Rev Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) welcomed the Pilling recommendations as "a small step of the Church of England towards greater inclusion but urges them to continue this work to enable the church to witness effectively to God’s love for all", echoing the Prologue message, God loves us, so what the hell!

Speaking on behalf of the Inclusive Church we have another female cleric, the Very Rev’d Dianna Gwilliams, Dean of Guildford Cathedral and Chair of Inclusive Church who says: "We hope that this will enable all Christians to find ways of celebrating the covenantal love between people which reflects the love of God for all people."

The House of Bishops has become incapable of coming to any conclusion without using women to do their thinking for them but only women who represent the old Eve. Women in the image of Mary, the new Eve, who gave us the Church in the Body of Christ have no say. Accordingly, even when it is absolutely clear that marriage is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others and that Christ deliberately chose men, not women, to be his Apostles, they work their way around these awkward facts by spinning a yarn about inequality which, if true, must have been what Christ intended. But He saw no inequality, only difference.

The process which gave us women deacons and priests, soon to be women bishops, is being repeated. Not quite as grand as Charles and Camilla but gay couples will be able to get married in a Registry Office before their grand Church service which will appear to be a marriage ceremony. That is a very small step from an actual marriage ceremony, just as women claimed it was only a few words separating deacons from priests.

Shortly after the World's first "official" Anglican same-sex blessing took place, an article in Orthodoxy Today was published under the heading 'Thoughts on Women's Ordination'. One sentence particularly stands out: "Virtually every Protestant group that has decided to ordain women has to one degree or another begun to reject Biblical language and images of God in favor of images more acceptable to feminist theology." Pilling it seems is no exception.


29 comments:

  1. It is sad that people place their faith in human desire over the desires of a loving God. That is the terrible sin to which we are witness. Granted, it is a sin to which we all fall. The real sin is codifying it as a blessing.

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  2. "Virtually every Protestant group that has decided to ordain women has to one degree or another begun to reject Biblical language and images of God in favor of images more acceptable to feminist theology."

    The swiftest route to "gay theology" is via the ordination of women - as has been amply demonstrated by Anglicans in the USA and Canada.

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  3. Should I be surprised/shocked/applaud the fact that the Bishop of Fulham - the chairman/person of Forward in Faith was one of the three bishops who signed off the report?

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  4. Never has such a small minority group commanded such attention. It is reckoned that no more than 5% of the UK population is gay, and yet the gay exposure in the media, the church, politics and education is disproportionate.
    The funny thing is that since high-jacking the word gay in the 1970s the same liberal elite, who tell us that we have to move with the times, have been caught out by a further development of the language. Ask any school kid today what is meant by gay and they say ‘rubbish’. So the phrase ‘those training shoes are gay’ suggests that the person concerned is sporting an inferior model of footwear. How times changes? Gay = happy, pretty; to gay = homosexual; and now gay = rubbish, inferior, all in one generation. That’s the development of language and usage so beloved by such intellectual giants as Stephen Fry.

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    1. Lovely story reported in the press a few months ago. A 7 year child in the playground of a Catholic school was overheard by a teacher calling another kid’s shoes ‘gay’. The first child was taken to the head-teacher who had recently been on an equality and diversity course. Fearing that he school was now a hot bed of extremist homophobia he panicked. Stonewall were called in to give the kids a seminar on same-sex relationships. There was general confusion amongst the teaching staff and the Stonewall team when it was realised that the kids were using ‘gay’ in its modern context meaning ‘poor quality.’

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    2. I think I have made this comment before, but the argument that gay people form such a minority and that therefore they should be denied their human rights and be discriminated against is an insidious one. If there were just 1% of the population who were gay then I would hope that the 99% majority would be supportive of their rights and bang on and on and on and on about those rights until they were secured. We are still at a stage in outr society were 50% of lesbian and gay pupils in our schools report homophobic bullying and were a small minority go on to take their own lives. I suppose we should not be concerned? It's just onr or two teenagers who kill themselves ... is that yourt logic? God forgive you if it is. A sad posting, sad indeed.

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  5. Can I respond calmly and factually to your assertion "It is true that gays have been treated badly in society but I have not witnessed the reported lack of welcome and acceptance in the Church and don't know of anyone who does, quite the contrary". Sadly I could given you the names of so many people who have been forced to leave their church on account of being gay. I can also speak from personal experience (sadly) at having been on the receiving end of a lack of welcome and acceptance even to the point of receiving the most awful letters from those who wished to "save" me from my sinfulness. One wouldn't mind the sincerity of that desire if the letters themselves were not so lacking in any sensitivity and love.

    It tickled me, once again, that you use the phrase "unless one is homophobic" with the inference that that charge could not of course be leveled at this article. Of course as someone who is gay I feel affirmed, welcomed, accepted, celebrated-with, cherished, delighted in, rejoiced over, blessed and unconditionally loved by the tenor of this most embracing-of-homosexuality articles. This article is an exercise in pro-gay theology without any apology.

    Yes, as a gay man I don't find an ounce of homophobia here because of course homophobia is phobia against homosexuals and the author of this blog counts many homosexuals as his friends ("I'm not homophobic, some of my best friends are gay" etc etc).

    In innocence, therefore, can I just ask why it is that the possibility of ‘gay marriage’ is something that for him/her detracts from heterosexual marriage? I can only imagine that author of this blog must think that that homosexuality is a choice rather than the God-given identity of a minority of us. And so I ask - Is it not perhaps slightly (ever so slightly) homophobic to believe that the development of marriage for same sex couples is somehow a threat to marriage itself rather than a very strong endorsement of marriage as a wonderful God-given institution for all of us who seek to living in faithful, loving, stable relationships?

    Thank you for your most anti-homophobic of entries. Can we look forward to more? I find them so wonderfully affirming and make me glad to be a christian (and gay). Have a lovely evening.

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  6. Let's try "calmly and factually", shall we? There is no scientific evidence for a gay gene and certainly no evidence in the bible that God created not only Adam and Eve but additional categories of gender. To claim that homosexuality is a "God-given identity" is either revisionism or fantasy designed to bolster an argument resembling a house of cards. The possibility of gay "marriage" detracts from heterosexual marriage because it is patently a parody of the institution of marriage as the Church has received it from the time of the Apostles and ultimately from Christ himself. But there is no possibility of rational argument about this because everyone who attempts to do so is shouted down by screeches of "homophobia!" "homophobia!", a slogan worthy of George Orwell or Aldous Huxley. So perhaps you might consider why many of us, on hearing the "H" word, simply conclude that the speaker is not worth paying any further attention. Closing down opposition with shouted slogans is the stock-in-trade of many a fascist ideology, and some of us can remember quite a few of those, and recognise one when we see one.

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    1. I suppose I might calmly and factually point out that there is no evidence for a heterosexual gene either. But that was not the point of my initial reply. Never mind, since writing the Diver Tom Daly has come out as gay .... there's no going back now. He did so calmly, factually and with dignity. No shouted slogans, no fascist ideology. An example to us all. I do hold to the view that whatever our identity (the identity with which we find contentment and a sense of peace with ourselves) is God given. You might also consider reading liberationist hermeneutics of Jesus' healing of the Roman Centurion's servant (or male lover) but I would imagine that that would be a step too far for you. Far from fascist, I prefer to be considered educated.

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  7. It seems to be that the problem with the argument is a presumption to understand the fullness of God's love, and furthermore our failure to be able to imitate that love in our human lives.God IS love and my belief is that God is capable only of love ; and we cannot understand how it is (to be trite) that God does not see it our way in respect of any situation of which we believe we are 'right' to censor? We all 'love' imperfectly in this life :society and the Church is full of improperly fulfilled heterosexual relationships and marriages .It is unfortunate to link up feminist theology ,women's ordination and homosexuality-they do not necessarily go together. Being in favour of women's ordination is one thing and being gay is another.When any one of us believes he truly understands the mind of Love ,then,and only then,may we dare to judge.

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    1. Simple Soul - I fully appreciate what you are trying to achieve in your argument (and much to your credit - you strike me as prayerful in your deliberations.) However, I sense that you miss an intrinsic link in your premise: "Being in favour of women's ordination is one thing and being gay is another." They are entirely linked from the standpoint that each is premised upon the notion of relationship (as is the primordial construct of the Church; that is, the All-Holy Trinity). The Ordination of women is premised upon the relationship within the Church (and between the Church and Christ) - issues of human sexuality are to do with relationships with each other - and the one notion of relationship cannot be extricated from the other as they both have to reflect the Trinity. The key difficulty now becomes how we interpret the nature of that relationship that exists in the Community of the All-Holy Trinity and how that should be reflected Ecclesiologically and Sociologically.

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    2. Hello Anonymous- I find you contribution in relation to the link between women's ordination and gay relationships interesting,but it is however a discussion that I have not previously met and my hunch is that I am not alone in this.. Clearly you are writing with a theological background; I am 'simply laity' ,for which reason I have found the need to read your paragraph several times.Without attempting to 'label' any sections of worshipping Anglo-catholic congregations,I am wondering how those who are in same sex relationships and also against the ordination of women would meet and understand your argument? Your reply would be of genuine interest to me, ( and possibly others?)

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    3. As someone who is gay and in a same sex relationship, I also find it odd how Anglo-catholics who are gay (and in relationships (all be it secretly, often)) can square that with being against the ordination of women. All quite irrational i would have thought.

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  8. "It is unfortunate to link up feminist theology,women's ordination and homosexuality - they do not necessarily go together." Or so you assert. Try thinking of it this way. Once the Church deliberately and knowingly substitutes a secular ideology (the "rights" ideology) for the plain teaching of the Bible, that of Tradition, and the express judgement of the Catholic Church, then quite literally, anything goes. The secularisers are happy to dress it up as "love" and the revisionists just as happy to declare it to be God's love (how would they know, since they don't accept the authority of scripture any longer?). The evidence against you, simple soul, is substantial, and can be seen in the recent history of the Church of Sweden, the Church of Norway, the Church of Denmark, the Episcopal Church USA, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and of course in what remains of the late Church in Wales. "Women's Rights" expressed in the shape of the ordination of women is swiftly followed by "Gay Rights" since there is no longer any reason to accept the authority of the Bible or the verdict of the universal church. Each local church does exactly what it wants to do, according to secular wisdom and influence, guided not by Christian doctrine but by the opinion polls, the BBC, and that well-known theologian, Dave Cameron MP. Forget about the Creeds - get with the program!

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    1. Anonymous, you maintain that in Wales each local church does as it feels right according to secular wisdom.

      Not in tune with you there old chap/madam. There is nought more fundamental than a liberal when it comes to towing party line. In Wales you do not continue as you please, but rather, 'As we please' , the autonomous Body of Christ.

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  9. Sometimes only satire will do:

    http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/church-of-england-agrees-to-bless.html

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  10. http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/news/2013/12/archbishop-joins-gay-and-lesbians-for-christmas-carols/

    Dr Barry Morgan is the special guest at this year’s Carols for Christmas organised by the South Wales Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
    Archbishop Barry said, “I am delighted to support this carol service. Christmas is a time when we remember that God made all people in his own image and loves us all. Christ was born in a stable to parents who were refugees and he spent his life with those on the fringes of society or who were victimised because of what they were, and challenging those in authority. I think this is still a relevant message for today.”

    Whilst his Cathedral is falling apart around him, Darth Insidious carries on regardless.

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    1. Dr Wonga does what he knows best, which is, falling on his own sword. We may 'challenge those who are in authority' so long as you're a gay cleric who is not openly critical of His Darkness. Following which there are multiple choices of restrictions, notices and gags available which could be imposed under ' Canonical disobedience to a bishop'. How's that for a 'liberal fundamentalist'?

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    2. As for your sacking Rev Williams, you got off rather lightly. Rumour has it that the great 'I am your Archbishop' is contemplating the introduction of stone throwing as disciplinary measure for all womanising straight clergy, under 'Canonical disobedience to a bishop'. Chapter 1X Book of Constitutions. There will be no whitewash at 39 Cathedral Road folks.

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  11. Good for him. And of course he's right, if Christ can be found anywhere it's amongst those whom society has (and to a lesser extent, still does) marginalise. It's just a shame the event isn't at the Cathedral. Maybe next year. I'm sure the south wales gay men's chorus would happily step in in the absence of a choir - bit of glitz in in the choir pews. Perhaps that's the future - camp it up at the Cathedral and its fortunes may turn. Hymns with a swoosh and a swing and a few more smiles about the place. Perfect.

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  12. Crumbs queerme what a good idea! Seems to me these Christians are a pretty (I almost wrote petty - but that would work as well!) gloomy lot - and sooooooooo judgemental. I think a camp Christmas carol knees up at the cathedral would be fabulous! Why not throw in a Roumanian/Bulgarian choir as well? The paper that loves to hate (The Daily Mail) would lap it up and it would give the misogynists, homophobes, burgerflipperphobes, Barriphobes and all their fellow travellers something else to whine on about. Merry Christmas queerme! Perhaps we could organise a Christmas do for those of us that read this blog and marvel at its sheer spitefulness!!!

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    1. Yes ding dong merrilly on high and deck the balls with lots of holly - ouch

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    2. From Archbishop Cranmer’s blog: Somewhere around Maaloula, Syria, 12 nuns are cowering in fear of their Islamist kidnappers. They may be being beaten, raped or beheaded one by one. But who cares? We've got Nigella Lawson's coke habit to tickle our itching ears.
      Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf and 11 of her sisters were abducted at gunpoint from St Tecla Orthodox monastery and taken hostage by an army of "rebels", along with the orphans who were being fostered and cared for. But who cares? We've got the identity of Tom Daley's handsome new boyfriend to fantasise about.
      The international community and world governments are indifferent to the plight of the nuns of the St Tecla convent.
      And so are most people in Britain.
      Churches, monasteries and convents throughout Syria are being razed, desecrated and pillaged. Maaloula is being cleansed of Christians. But who cares?
      We've got celebrity drugs and gay sex to gossip about.
      Of course, if these were gays and lesbians being kidnapped, beaten and tortured by Islamists, we'd soon have celebrity declamations and government condemnation. There'd be Twitter campaigns and Facebook pages dedicated to their freedom, and the media would full of Stephen Fry demanding justice.
      But these are only nuns.
      And no one really gives a shit about Christians.
      We've got Nigella's coke and Tom's boyfriend to titillate us.

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    3. Still no message of support from the Church in Wales for our sisters in Christ, the kidnapped nuns of St Tecla monastery? I suppose it is a question of priorities? Singing a few carols with the gays of Cardiff is more to the liking of His Darkness.

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  13. Why not a full-scale gay orgy in the Cathedral? That would make certain contributors here very happy, and the Archbishop could preside in a pink frock coat and sequins. Photos taken by his official photographer for the ChurchinWales.org.uk web page... Why wait? It's only a matter of time on the present trajectory.

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    1. ++Bazza could dress up in his Valentino Liberace sequined vestments and play his new £1.5 million Wurlitzer. He has the dry ice and bubble making machines already but needs to launch a further fund raiser to have the organ console dressed in glitter, flashing lights and a dance floor spinning mirror ball mounted on his mitre.

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    2. Of course as President of the Llandaff Gay Christian Golf Club His Darkness already has the Liberace kit, albeit made out of polyester. I do so hope that after his Wurlitzer gig that they will be selling those ever so delightful Rum Pansy cocktails. Oh how we enjoyed them in the good old days!

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    3. His ++Darkness would be delighted if dozens if not hundreds of his new found friends in the LGBT community turned up for Christmas 'midnight' Mass dressed in all their Mardi Gras makeup and costume finery with false eyelashes flitting and headdresses flying.
      One wonders if bully boy Bazza would have the balls to tell a Lily Savage look-alike that s/he was not permitted to instinct at his high altar?

      Would 'queerme' make the arrangements please?

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  14. The Archbishop making a guest appearance at the gay Carol service is all very well but what is he doing about the gay haters in his own Cathedral Choir?

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