This week’s news and links – 1st February

A few interesting links…

Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, was interviewed in Saturday’s Telegraph.  In part of the interview he discussed his opposition to gay marriage.  This is a short extract:

“I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just overnight, no matter how powerful you are. We’ve seen dictators do it, by the way, in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine what I call very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.”

I predict the issue of gay marriage is going to cause a huge storm over the coming months as the government will be launching a consultation on the issue in March.  David Cameron is very much in favour, but many of his Conservative MPs along with the majority of church denominations and other faiths are not.  Dr Sentamu has pitched his position early on, but already the backlash has begun.  This article by Andrew Brown in Monday’s Guardian gives a flavour of his opponents’ arguments.

You can read the full transcript of the Telegraph’s interview with Dr Sentamu, which covers a whole range of subjects here.

As the debate over welfare reform continues to be picked apart, Victoria Coren’s piece in Sunday’s Guardian focuses on what we should actually expect bishops to be doing in the House of Lords.  This is very readable and makes some good points.

I’ve recently had the A Grain of Sand blog drawn to my attention.  It has some excellent articles including this thought provoking one posted on Monday.  Entitled ‘Fairness’, it considers what fairness means to politicians in the light of this year’s round of bonuses at RBS.

Finally, on Monday I received an email from Christian Concern asking for prayer for Lesley Pilkington, a Christian counsellor.  Today is the day of her appeal against the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) who are intending to strip her of her accreditation because she attempted to assist a homosexual client in a therapy session. Her client was actually a ‘gay rights activist/journalist’ who deliberately misled her and then reported her to her professional body. on Sunday (29th January) a statement was issued by a whole list of church leaders including George Carey and Michael Nazir-Ali supporting her cause.

If you want to find out more, you should really head over to eChurch Blog where you can find a very helpful summary of the case and find out why it matters.

Categories: Banking & capitalism, Homosexuality, Marriage

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Thanks Gillan for this excellent summary. Yes, I agree fully with your assessment and at long last a senior establishment cleric is taking a stand on important Christian values – putting the backbone back into Britain!
    It’s interesing that an internationally recognised intercessor remarked last week upon arriving here that ‘England is at a crossroads’ – perhaps all this is part of it?

  2. When i became a Christian in 2007 one of the issues i had most difficulty with was homosexuality and it was a real barrier for me for quite a long time. I suppose i was for the popular morality that the guardian article describes. Why ? In my youth Gays were subject to some very unpleasant and discrimatory names, their pubs were trashed and they suffered brutality in police cells and to me this was abhorrant. I sang Tom Robinsons ”sing if your glad to be gay” with all my heterosexual mates with gusto.In those days i worked as a male nurse and met many Gay nurses who seemed no different to anybody else often exceptionally caring and very good company and i learned that their sexuality was as natural to them as my sexuality was to me. How could i look a nother human being in the eye and tell them that they were unnatural. The call of Jesus though was stronger than any liberal sensibilities that i may have , because he has transformed my life i find it equally hard not to believe the bible. I am left with a notion that Gay people are unable to create new life through an act of loving intimacy and it hurts me to even write these words because that must be a difficult thing for some apart from making somebody feel second class, but then again i suppose many people feel that way in areras other than their sexuality . We are all imperfect to Gods standard. I also look at infective sexual health issues for all expressions of sexuality and conclude that all unbiblical expressions can be problematic. At the end of the day Jesus loves us all regardless. We are not required to be judgemental of people but marriage i believe should be a sacrement between a man and a woman because without it we have no new life in a context of Godly union nor a relationship where we promise to love honour and submit to the wellbeing of our wife/ husband. We have the added problem of how do you define consumation in same sex union. I try not to look at these things in terms of right or wrong but leave them to the cross and the grace of God. God though had defined marriage for us.The issue has the potentiality to blow the church apart and the Gay lobby will admit that equality is part of the issue its really about changing the notion of family which they view as an oppressive institution . I have to sayfo me , that at its best the familt is the bedrock of society. I have spoken to many Gay people but never a Gay christian. I would like to hear previous poster Rheas view on all this. We are in for a difficult time

    • Hey Graham:

      I just wanted to say that I read your comment, and really appreciated it. It’s clear that you’ve really wrestled with the issue of homosexuality in light of Christianity. I find that too many Christians will just blindly believe what they heard a ‘pastor’ say one time about homosexuality, without really researching it themselves. The truth is, many Christians do this for a VARIETY of issues, and not just homosexuality.

      For myself, it was a combination of prayer, studying the Scriptures, and doing research on the cultural and historical context of when the Scriptures were written that I’ve come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin. I do not believe that it is a sin to be gay, nor do I believe that same-sex sex is automatically a sin. When I approach the Scriptures though, I do my best to understand them in context…so I like to learn a little background in terms of the culture, history, and literature of the time that it was written, and specifically who it was written to. I guess that I try to approach the Scriptures from a holistic point of view. I’m just not sure that you can apply the various definitions of marriage in the Bible to life today in the UK (or anywhere else, for that matter). I mean, according to the Bible, a valid marriage is one between a rapist and his victim. Surely no Christians are suggesting that we take that definition, and start forcing rape victims to marry their rapists.

      In terms of same-sex marriage, I don’t really think that it’s as important in the UK as it is in the USA. In a lot of ways, the UK is more ‘progressive’ than the USA in recognising non-married couples…for example, in issues of immigration. A big reason in the USA that same-sex marriage is so important for same-sex couples is health insurance. As you all have socialised medicine, you don’t have to worry about trying to get on your same-sex partners medical insurance. So practically speaking, I think that there are probably less benefits for same-sex couples in the UK vs. the USA in terms of getting marriage rights.

  3. If he doesn’t think that the state needs to be defining what marriage is, then the state needs to stop giving out marriage licenses.

  4. Thats interesting Rhea. The bible has not much to say about homosexuality in actual fact. I am not sure that Jesus mentions it at all but the approval of marriage between a man and woman is implicit in much of his teaching. I think the old testament references apply to homosexual orgies rather than committed same sex relationships. The other references are mainly attributed to Paul who clearly was led by the holy spirit and people argue i think according to their own position on this. Heterosexuals will generally say that God was revealing to Paul what was acceptable or not in terms of human sexuality while Gay people will often say that Paul was speaking merely in a cultural context in the same way that women were told to keep quiet in Church and defer to their husbands. Like so many aspects of human behaviour the biblical teachings hold it in tension. Its as if we are required to search for meaning in the words yet take it to the cross in prayer. I am a divorced man who remarried a couple of years ago to a life long Christian. We had a debate as to whether we should ask to be married in Church or not and we decided after much discussion to have a civil wedding instead and our main reason was that we felt had previously  fallen short in Gods standard for marriage. I think we were trying to put God first in a sense but we did have some feeling from others that we were engaging in a kind of second class union. We simply took it to God in prayer. We asked for a Church blessing though during which i had my first ever experience of the Holy spirit. Its about what God requires of us and i think its about putting him first and asking. It sometimes feel that people are worshipping their own sexuality more that God himself. I visit two elderly Christian ladies who are life long”sisters” but not in any biological sense, In discussion they clearly beleive that homosexuality is against Gods plan, they are visibly caring in love and companionship for one another and they are really lovely people to spend time with. We often say love the sinner but not the sin. I agree Rhea Its not a sin to be attracted to or love somebody of the same sex  and homosexual relationships are no less loving, its not as if all heterosexual relationships are free from power or abuse. Love for another human being can never be seen as unnatural but the homosexual act as an expression of love i can find no positive affirmation for in the Bible. Even heterosexual expression other than to ”go forth and multiply” is seen as a concession to a natural desire. He would much rather that we just wholly worship him. He not our sexuality should be our greatest desire. ‘(Oh dear yet another tension ) . Any way there is a great big elephant in the room for the church that isnt going away any time soon. Overall the Bible points to sexual union having a profound purpose to which we all owe our lives , whatever our sexuality. We have institutionalised this in history through the traditional marriage between a man and woman and i beleive that we should hold this as Gods preffered pattern for human union. This is very difficult if your homosexuality is as natural to you as having blue eyes and can be quite glib for a heterosexual to opinionate on. But i am trying to take my lead from scripture. Barbara and i for example would have loved a Church wedding for ourselves but we were in the end mindful of God and i do beleive he blesses and nourishes our love and has listened to our desire for forgiveness of our imperfections whatever they are and have been but some still view  our marriage as not a proper marriage before God.  In the end we all probably see what we want to see in the desire for ourselves. Having said all this i am not a biblical scholar nor a cultural historian and cant claim to understand in entirity. We are all learning and being guided and i hope others may further help by posting and give their perspective.         .     

    • Graham:

      If you’re interested at all in how a person could reconcile Christianity and homosexuality, I’d suggest two books and a sort of short ‘booklet’ on the subject. The two books are “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality” by Jack Rogers (he was the moderator for the largest Presbyterian denomination in the US a while ago) and “What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality” by Daniel Helminiak (he’s a former Catholic priest and university professor). The short ‘booklet’ is by Justin Cannon (an Episcopal priest) and called “The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality.”

  5. Thanks Rhea i have a christian book list as long as my arm (and leg ) but i will certainly look those up.

  6. It’s great to see so much respectful conversation here. Hopefully I’ll put a piece together soon on gay marriage and the potential consequences of the government’s move on this.

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