Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans NZ - style and substance

Some 360 participants turned out for the first of two Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (NZ) conferences, held at La Vida, Christchurch (and the second begins tomorrow at St Chad's Meadowbank). I estimate that 330 of the 360 were from the Diocese of Christchurch and 30 were from Dunedin, Nelson and Wellington Dioceses. By my count 30 Christchurch clergy were there, including vicars or priests-in-charge of 19 parishes, with 7 clergy from other dioceses. That is probably the largest Anglican conference held in NZ in a long decade. (I do not know how many are registered for the Auckland conference).

The event was well organised and superbly led from the stage by Amy Hayward (MC and worship leader) and Jay Behan (Chair of FCANZ).

We had a Bible Study led by David Short,  of St John's Vancouver, three addresses by Vaughan Roberts, of St Ebbe's Oxford (and Canon of Christ Church Cathedral in the Diocese of Oxford) (True Sex, True Love and True Unity), each speaker was interviewed, and there was a workshop space in the programme with five workshops on offer.

For readers here tremulous about the possibility that the day was long on hellfire and brimstone and short on gentleness and grace, let me assure you that it was the latter and not the former.

For readers here anxious that somewhere in our church there is space for clear, convictional, conservative/traditional teaching on sex, based on the principle that sexual intercourse is approved by God within a marriage between a man and a woman and not outside of such marriage, then yesterday was that space, particularly in Vaughan Roberts' first address.

For readers here troubled by how such convictional teaching sounds when it comes from the proverbial happily married mother or father of multiple children, let me tell you if you do not know or remind you if you have forgotten, that Vaughan Roberts is a same sex attracted single man who lives celibately. I salute him for his personal courage and I salute the FCA organisers for inviting him to speak to us. There was an authenticity and integrity to what he had to say which would not be present if (say) I had been the teacher for the day.

For readers here anxious about how the future of our church will unfold then the conference was a clear reminder that there are matters to be anxious about, all of which turn on whether General Synod comes to a decision or decisions which we can live with. The conference was a frank and robust reminder that synodical government can make decisions which cannot be lived with by the whole of an Anglican church. This was so especially when we heard from David Short (whose church, then St John's Shaunessy Vancouver, tried to stay within the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada when that Diocese first agreed to and then implemented blessings of same sex relationships, and found that, in the end, and to great personal cost to David as well as to his congregation, this was not possible).

So, an interesting day, an informative day, and a day which may turn out to be instrumental in clarifying 'the' way forward some Anglicans will go in, depending, of course, on what General Synod makes of 'A Way Forward'.

25 comments:

Andrew Reid said...

Great to hear - may it be a blessing and encouragement to Anglican ministry in NZ as well as connecting you in fellowship to many others in the global communion.

Father Ron Smith said...

And may it not be the death-knell of ACANZP's 'Unity in Diversity'

Mr Behan's F,o.C.A. (Fellowship of Cofessing Anglicans - N.Z.) is following in the footsteps of dissident Anglicans in Australia (mostly Sydney), North America and the United kingdom; whose alignment with the GAFCON Provinces on issues of gender and sexuality have led them into the introduction of schismatic entities such as ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) and AMiE (Anglican Mission in England'.

These schismatic bodies - fostered by GAFCON - have raised up local Churches in the U.K. and North America, in direct opposition to and in competition with their local Anglican Communion counterparts - the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the Anglican Church of Canada, ans the Church of England.

My question, that should concern all Anglicans in New Zealand, is: "What does this irruption of FoCA in our country mean for the future stability of dioceses and parishes in our Province of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP)? I suspect, not very much. However, we must be on our guard against the sin of intentional schism.

Bryden Black said...

I can only endorse your report Peter of Saturday’s inaugural FCANZ Conference at La Vida, Christchurch. It was a blessing to be there. And here follows a small confession of another kind!

FCA attempts to embrace a wide variety of Anglican clans under its tribal banner (if I may use such anthropological categories), not unlike ACNA. And there was certainly a good spread among those present, as already tabled across parishes and dioceses. Of interest to me was the ‘stable’ Vaughan Roberts comes from, St Ebbe’s in Oxford, since my family attended St Aldate’s back in the mid 1980s, and back then there was a slight strain between these two ‘camps’ one felt. The fault lines were mostly but not solely around things “charismatic” (which category for me, coming directly from Africa back then, was somewhat curious: just about all faith matters in that continent are saturated by s/Spirit). I’d heard Vaughan Roberts before in Chch some years ago and so was slightly primed ahead of time. Conclusion: his three main addresses were of an especially high quality, theologically, exegetically, and pastorally. Frankly, one could not have asked really for anything more. May the Good Lord continue to bless him that he’d be a continuing blessing for others. David Short’s exposition of Luke 4:16ff, with which we began, was simply stunning; may all preachers “break open the Scriptures” with such clarity, succinctness, and effectiveness! The sung worship too was ably led, using both tunes and lyrics which expressed our breadth and depth well.

Upshot: well done Jay Behan and team! May your yeast leaven the dough. And may our Provincial Church eat well from this table.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You are in error on many fronts and so your comment above is lucky to be published.
E.g.
- the Diocese of Sydney is not "dissident" as it remains firmly within the polity of the Australian Anglican Church;
- ACNA was established before and not after GAFCON was established;
- AMiE appears to be as much involved in planting new Anglican congregations as it is fostering any CofE congregations leaving the CofE (in fact, can you name one AMiE congregation which schismatically left the CofE?).

But on one matter I agree entirely with you, we must guard against intentional schism. That is why I am very anxious lest General Synod should intentionally cause division in our church!

Anonymous said...

"These schismatic bodies - fostered by GAFCON - have raised up local Churches in the U.K. and North America" - Father Ron

How exciting to hear of church growth occurring in the UK and USA!

Father Ron Smith said...

If schism actually happens in our Church, Peter, it will be because of conservatives splitting away - because of their inabiity to keep up with the reform of homophobia and sexism. I can't see any other reason.

When you assert that the Gafcon Provinces were not involved in piratical intervention in North America, which ended up in the schismatic 'ACNA', you are splitting hairs. It was the same Provinces involved that later helped to form the Gafcon sodality.

Whatever AMiE happens to be doing in England, it is not under the authority of ther Church of England. It is therefore, per se, by representing to the 'Anglican', bypassing the Church of England's jurisdiction and setting up in opposition to the C.of E.

The Diocese of Sydney is a law unto itself. You know that, Peter and I know it. It does things that are outside of normal Australian Anglican Provincial polity - even planting its own 'parishes' in other dioceses. Is that not 'dissident'?

Sarah Behan said...

I don't normally comment on your blog Peter, but I would love to here {if I so dare, I say}.

Being a long-standing member of St Stephen's, a good friend of many of those involved in FCA {including Amy Hayward}, and - dare I say it - a Behan, I can only attest to the heart of those who dare not "keep up with the reform". Please come and spend a month at our church and see us wear our heart, for all people, on our sleeve. See also the burden, pain and struggle to stand firm in our convictions.

I don't want to move away from the Anglican Church, I love the heritage and history and all that it stands for. But if it changes what has historically been Biblical teaching on the essence of human relationships and how we relate to one another as male and female {because we are oh, so different}, then I can't, in my own conscience before God, remain. I may be accused of all sorts of intolerance, and that grieves me. But I know my heart, I know my story, and I certainly know the deep love and care of those of my family {both church and blood}.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Sarah
Thank you for your comment and for your boldness in making it!
I hope readers here ponder what you say, for you have expressed brilliantly the "heart" of Anglican conservatism which (it seems to me) is often pigeon-holed as being more a matter of the "head" (i.e. preoccupied with doctrine).
Cheers
Peter

Father Ron Smith said...

"I don't want to move away from the Anglican Church, I love the heritage and history and all that it stands for. But if it changes what has historically been Biblical teaching on the essence of human relationships and how we relate to one another as male and female {because we are oh, so different}, then I can't, in my own conscience before God, remain." - Sarah Behan -

I, for one, am deeply sorry, Sarah, that you should feel as affronted as you obviously do by our Church's desire to move forward on acknowledging and accepting that there are human beings whose innate sexual nature is different from 'the norm', and their need of deep and meaningful personal relationships, like yourself.

However, this is a fact of life, and our Church, as part of the Body of Christ, dedicated to the liberation of all humanity from prejudice and injustice, must take a stance for the radical inclusion of ALL people in the 'hospital for sinners' which is the Church. If you find this personally uncomfortable, on grounds of conscience; I must weigh that against the discomfort suffered by many people - in our Church and beyonbd - whose lives, especially in the Gafcon Provinces, have long been threatened by persecution and violence.

If you have to go, then you must go with our blessing. But I hope it won't come to that. Christ is risen, Alleluia!

Sarah Behan said...

Ron,

I may be wrong, but I thought the Anglican Church does include all people as a place for sinners. If you believe that the conservative side thinks differently, then some wires have been crossed. I cannot speak for others, but for myself, I believe the Church is a place for any person - straight, gay, black, brown, adult, child, male, female. It doesn't matter where we have come from and what we have done. We are saved by our faith alone in Jesus. But, in our gratitude, we consciously decide to forsake behaviours we know are sinful.

I understand the desire to allow people with same-sex attractions to have the same relationship status as opposite-sex people. It makes sense - if this world was all we were living for. But we aren't. We're living for our lives hidden in Christ. He is our true fulfillment and the only place we ought to be searching for our affirmation, value and heart's content. This is the same if we're married, single, same-sex attracted or not. We are all the same.

It saddens me when conservatives are considered heartless, cruel or people/love-haters. We believe in love and the ability for all people to experience love - but love on God's terms, not my own, because my life isn't about me.

I'm not very good at discussions like this, so I apologise for my naievty and lack of skill. I am very confident that you are far more capable at this, Ron, so please bear with me. I am a stay-at-home mum, just turned thirty, and have forgotten many good argument skills from my university days. But what I lack in skill, I gain in heart.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Sarah, I completely agree with this paragraph of yours:

"I understand the desire to allow people with same-sex attractions to have the same relationship status as opposite-sex people. It makes sense - if this world was all we were living for. But we aren't. We're living for our lives hidden in Christ. He is our true fulfillment and the only place we ought to be searching for our affirmation, value and heart's content. This is the same if we're married, single, same-sex attracted or not. We are all the same."

This is all very wonderful, but I think you're placing all your trust in the next world, without engaging with our current presence in this one. We have been given a bodsy to live out our commitment to Christ in this world. Perhaps you have been given a body - as a woman - to enjoy the procreation of children, all part and parcel of your life IN THIS WORLD, not necessarily in your eternal life, hid with Christ in God.

The very same circumstances happen with those with S/S attraction. They are called to live IN THIS WORLD, to work with what they have to obtain a l;oving, monogamous life with another person (if possible, with the blessing of the Church and the State).

In both instances, this physical enjoyment will not be a part of our common life in the hereafter, so woll be of little use to us then. As a priest in the Church of God on earth, I have to deal with people in the here and now of daily life - as they present to me, sinners yet redeemed.

In the meantime, we have to deal with the affections we are dealt - as lovingly and as generously as we are able. This is MY view - one that is consistent with the liberality of Christ in the Gospel.

Sarah Behan said...

Thank you, Ron, I really respect this comment and your heart behind it. I think this is why this issue is proving to be so hard and challenging. Each side believes so fully in the people they are fighting for, as well as their understanding of scripture.

One question I do have, in regards to what you would consider sexual sin: where is the line that you draw? If same-sex couples are allowed to be married, are single people allowed to be in a sexual relationships outside of marriage?

Fornication is marked as sinful in the OT and NT, but does it not become fornication if two people love each other? If so, if an adulterer genuinely loves the person he/she is relating with outside of marriage, does that make it acceptable before God?

Though in one sense I want to bless same-sex relationships because of their genuine love and care for one another, I find I then come across too many "what if's?" everywhere else... Does this make sense? And if things are as liberal as the above, why am I called to repent of sexual sin? What is sexual sin?? {You can see the tangle that I get into!}

And I also wonder why God didn't make it clearer if same-sex marriage is blessed in His eyes. Surely he understood, cared for and knew the desires of homosexuals then as He does now? If He didn't, why has He suddenly changed His mind? If He has, where is the solid ground of scripture we can put our feet on?

I would really appreciate your thoughts, Ron {and yours, too, Peter since this is your blog! Sorry for hogging it!}.

Father Ron Smith said...

"One question I do have, in regards to what you would consider sexual sin: where is the line that you draw? If same-sex couples are allowed to be married, are single people allowed to be in a sexual relationships outside of marriage?" - Sarah -

I really don't find the two situations quite comparable, Sarah. Now, if you were to contrast Same-sex with Heterosexual activity both outside of marriage) you do have some sort of viable comparison. This is one reason why - on your own comparison here - same-sex mongamous couples might seek the legal (and moral) stability of marriage.

Regarding your wquestion, though, I can only answer you in terms of the experience of people I know and am very close to: Our daughter, a researcher in public health and currently embarking on her Ph.D, lives with her partner, a former Roman Catholic, I.T. professional, in a mongamous relationship and they have a beautiful daughter, just started school in Wellington. They are not married! - A situation that used to bother me. It does not bother me any longer. They happen to be devoted to one another and their child - sharing her care when necessary, if the other is away working. They have established their own home and are good citizens and loving family members.

They are not married but They fulfil Jesus' call to faithfulness!
___________________________________________________________________

".... And if things are as liberal as the above, why am I called to repent of sexual sin? What is sexual sin?? {You can see the tangle that I get into!}"

You, certainly, Sarah, are called to repent of what you see as your own 'sexual sin'. That is a matter for your own private conscience. That calls for faithfulness to your private conscience. As a friend of mine once said: "The Church's jurisdiction stops at the bedroom door". And I believe there is a great deal of wisdom in that.

In my 86 years of living in this world, Sarah, I have come to believe that what you call 'sexual sin' is when a person takes advantage of another person's vulnerability for self-gratification, with no regard for the societal or legal consequences. There are also some sexual activities - even within marriage - that, on the above rating, would be called 'sinful'.

Interestingly, Jesus himself did not take too much time judging what we might called 'sexual sins'. In fact, he seemed kinder than most of his followers on such issues. Jesus seemed more concerned with the Scribes' and Phariaees' hypocrisy, readiness to judge and invocation of the Law, while yet falling short of God's call for mercy and generosity towards others. Jesus' reminder of motes and logs in eyes was quite powerful, and that's why they had him crucified.

Being an Anglo-Catholic, Sarah, I am always mindful of the wonderful Father Faber hymn:

"There's a widenss in God's mercy, like the wideness of the sea, There's a kindness in God's justice which is MORE than liberty.
For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
But we make His love more narrow by false limits of our own; and we magnify His strictness with a zeal he would not own.
If our love were but more simple, we should take Him at His word, and our lives would be all gladness In the joy of Christ our Lord." AMEN (EH 461)

Christ is risen, Alleluia. He is risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Sarah
Keep asking great questions, including why God has not been clear about blessing same sex relationships - they did exist in biblical times.
As for hogging the blog, I think a few hundred more comments would be required before you would gain ground on the more prolific commenters here :)

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Sarah, just an afterthought to my last response to yours:

Your question, Why did God not tell us (if) he really wanted same-sex relationships to flourish?

My only answer to that is that, the books of the Bible were not actual telprinted messages from Heaven. They were the sum of a particular human being's understanding - in the cultrue of their age - as to what God required of them as part of a human family.

When Jesus left his earthly disciples for the final time he told them that "When the Holy Spirit comes, S/He will LEAD YOU (still at that time yet to happen) into ALL the Truth. This can only mean that 'all the truth' - about God's relationship to his human children - was not yet revealed. I believe, as a modern human being and a devout Christian, that there is still plenty of God's Truth to be revealed (the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the world). In this context, it is eminently possible that honourable same-sex relationships could yet be found acceptable to God - in fact, has already been, by some faithful Christians - if not to others.

Sarah Behan said...

Ron, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Your heart and position is clear, and your daughter's family sound like they are a lovely, committed household. When a situation as your own is so personal, I understand where you are coming from, and I really respect that.

Yet, for my own personal hunger for answers, basing Church statutes and laws purely on life situations is just not enough for me. I want clear words from the Bible. I don't want to sin - whether ignorantly or consciously - and so I am always looking at God's word for guidance. This is why, which I mentioned in my first comment, I cannot, in good conscience, have faith that this is God's will. If it was clearer - as in, in the garden there were a variety of couples, or, Paul's teaching on this was as obvious as his "Being single is a good thing" - then I would most likely be right there with you.

Blame it on my history degree and all those essays I wrote where I could not make a historical statement without foot noting my source. I just can't step forward without clear Scripture. And, in lots of ways, that grieves me because I don't want to hurt anyone. It's not like I'm out to get people and ruin their lives. The thought of any pain my convictions may cause on you, or your daughter and - dare I say it - my own father, hurts me as equally. But I just can't go forward.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Sarah, I CAN see where you are coming from. I do realise that for 'Sola scriptura' Christians, all the answers for daily living have to be found in the Scriptures. However, there are some difficulties - especially for oyster-lovers, and women without hats in church - all of which instruction were given for a particular culture, ethos and tradition, but we do not any longer believe they are a prescription for everyday life. Even the Prophets and Apostles were subject to human fallibility - as is the Pope!

Also, do you not think that the Holy Spirit may have inspired other writers - post-Scriptural - who have added immensely to our knowledge and love of God for hundreds of years. These are not 'scripture', but they certainly are seem by many Christians to give perspectives on life that were completely unknown to the biblical writers, whose own perspectives could only have been formed by their own (limited0 understanding of the world as God created it. Some of your own congregation probably have a great faith in the wrtiings of today's Protestant theologians. Also, Sarah, think of Galilleo, and how he altered the Church's perspective on The Creation!

Not all Church Doctrine, either, is consonant with the understanding of Scripture - a fact that theologians, such as Bryden here, have to constantly come to terms with. I am only a simple parish priest, but I, like you, must follow my own conscience - according to my own relationship with God, which is renewed constantly by the sacraments of the Church - accompanied by Bible Readings from the Lectionary.

Easter Blessings on your striving for perfection. That's not a bad idea, by the way. We each must follow our own path, with guidance from the Holy Spirit - still active in the world today.

Sarah Behan said...

I totally agree with the idea that the Spirit guides writers today and for centuries since. My heart just thrives when I read the works people of faith have written - Elisabeth Elliot and Charles Spurgeon are a few of my favourites. I am a voracious reader! But I do try to maintain the "Sola Scripture" stance, because I do believe all Scripture, regardless of age and culture and who wrote it, is God-breathed. I have been wrestling with the head-covering issue in the last year and, due to living in the East and lack of good schooling, whether homeschooling will be a good option for us. And, despite other Christians who believe very much that God commands parents to teach their children {their foundation being Deut. 6 and several Proverbs}, I cannot come to the same conclusion on that issue. I read a book by R C Sproul Jr. which is his take on why all Christian parents should homeschool and, though I agreed with many of his reasons why homeschooling is good and a great idea, I cannot agree with him that it is a mandate for all people. Scripture is just not clear enough.

Anyway, that is a side note. Thanks so much for the discussions, I have enjoyed them thoroughly. I'll be praying for Synod next month that the split won't happen, because no-one I know wants that to happen, but for wisdom and grace for everyone.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks, Sarah, for the conversations. We are one bread, one body, for we all partake of the One Bread. It is Christ who holds us together not our doctrines about Him.

By the way, re Schooling, there's always St.Michael's in the City.

Many Blessings
Fr. Ron

Bryden Black said...

A. Dear Ron; Easter greetings - for otherwise you and I are “most to be pitied”. And because we are indeed pitied in the fullest sense, being recipients of Divine Mercy, I have sadly but truly to call you out somewhat here (cf. Rom 6:1-2).

“If schism actually happens in our Church, Peter, it will be because of conservatives splitting away - because of their inabiity to keep up with the reform of homophobia and sexism. I can't see any other reason.

“When you assert that the Gafcon Provinces were not involved in piratical intervention in North America, which ended up in the schismatic 'ACNA', you are splitting hairs. It was the same Provinces involved that later helped to form the Gafcon sodality.”

1. One of the things that FCANZ carefully and clearly said on Saturday was this: do your very best to understand and state the position of your opponent. Well; let’s look at the first para above from you.

The reasons many people like myself cannot hold to the blessing of same sex relationships let alone SSM are essentially these. The reason behind the negative stipulations of “those six Scriptural texts” has nothing to do with - ritual purity, oppressive power relations, cultural specifics. Rather; it is our own culture that has become “obsessed with sexuality”, to the point that “human identity” has become itself “sexualized”, and in addition sexualized to the point that unless “expressed” and so “not repressed”, we humans run the great risk of “harming” our very natures. Who says so ...?! What are the sources of these claims? Meanwhile, on the contrary, the negativity of, for example, Rom 1 and 1 Cor 6 regarding some human sexual activity is this: God’s identity is ‘somehow’ caught up with our own, as His creatures made in His Image; what we do and don’t do reflects God’s own character. Indeed; the entire Biblical Story is a Love Story - just so, Song of Songs 2:16, 6:3, 7:10 (noting the progression), and note how the entire canon of Scripture is enfolded between a pair of bookends, Gen 1 & 2 and Rev 19-22. The human institution of marriage bespeaks the fullness of the Divine-Human betrothal of the People of God: that’s the core of the trajectory, from the Beginning to the End. It’s also the raison d’etre behind celibacy - embodying the eschatological betrothal to Christ. And tragically, ironically, SSM, precisely with its inevitable constituency of sameness and not difference, can only parody this singular institution. Imagine if Jesus were indeed the same as ourselves; then we would be most to be pitied once more, since He could not in fact redeem us! It’s His very difference (see the Letter to the Hebrews) that ensures our rescue, so that we become “without spot or wrinkle” (Eph 5). It is this salvation dynamic that undergirds the sharp warning of 1 Cor 6:9, just as it is also the reason for the “wrath” of Rom 1:18ff.

To foist the label of “homophobic” upon such a stance betrays the compassion God Himself bestows upon those caught up in this particular expression of wounded human nature through sin. True; the list of 1 Cor 9ff speaks of a wide range of habitual sinful behaviours. But that’s the point: none of them reflect God’s character, and I’m sure you yourself would not want to affirm any of the non-sexual traits; so why the sexual ones? Because we supposedly have a better handle on the complex aetiology? Yet alcoholism is also a mixture of nature and nurture ... And we have great compassion for the alcoholic, setting up AA and 12 Step Programmes and all the rest.

Bryden Black said...

B. And to show I really do get the essence of proponents of SSB and/or SSM, let’s look at our own parliament’s logic behind the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act. And I do this for one key reason: WGWF Report follows on from the State’s definition - no; its redefinition - of marriage. The Act’s preamble states the governing principles of the Bill to be equality and non-discrimination. And yet, as I pointed out in my submission, the sections that followed only provide for the further ‘marriage’ between two men or two women. On what basis were there no subsequent sections for the provision of ‘marriage’ among, say, two women and a man, or two men and a woman, or among a number of men and women; that is, why are not polygamy, polyandry and polyamory not being legislated for—on the basis of equality and non-discrimination ... among consenting adults?

The crux is of course that marriage is far more than the business of private consenting coupling ... The nature of marriage—and NB the distinction between “nature” and “definition”, to be pursued in a moment—the reality of marriage simply may not be addressed adequately via such language as “equality” and “non-discrimination”, however laudable those features may be - and they are of course laudable in and of themselves.

The trouble is simply this. While advocates of SSM champion their stance via notions of “justice”, such a notion is itself, when construed primarily via “equality” and/or “non-discrimination”, hardly relevant to define marriage. For marriage proper is characterized by additional features such as procreation and the biological parents’ ‘normal’ role in primary socialization. The human creature, being what it is, is totally reliant upon a long maturation process. All the longitudinal studies of children’s success strongly favour their upbringing be within the household of their biological parents. This does not preclude the option of adoption or other domestic arrangements under less than ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ circumstances (such as excessively dysfunctional families). It merely advocates a due norm, one that society deserves to cultivate and honour. That is why traditionally Marriage is a Social Estate, a Public Institution, not merely a function of ‘personal commitment’.

And here of course enters another claim, championed by advocates of SSM: why should gay and lesbian couples not enjoy children? Enter therefore ART/IVF etc. Yet enter too a third party necessarily! A third party moreover who may be either simply consenting or contractual. What does this do to the sense of one-on-one mutual embrace, where “the two become one flesh”? What does this furthermore do to the children’s sense of identity long term? What too of the enormous cost of the inevitable technological failures of ART, which presently run at some 60%? At this stage of this latest social experiment we simply do not know ... What we do know already however is that early creations of IVF, now well into adulthood, tend to see themselves as “orphans”, as ‘somehow’ bereft of a sense of being fully parented. (This is a self confession, by the way, of early IVF children, when prompted for an answer, in many cases.)

Bryden Black said...

C. The matter of children raises a final point—at least, in the eyes of same-sex advocates. They claim the natural argument for conjugal marriage with its emphasis upon children is misguided, since no-one ever denied marriage to a man and a woman who were beyond natural child-bearing age. Yet this too is itself misguided, since the initial focus upon the ages of the couple is misplaced. Infertility is of two essential kinds. On the one hand, there is the necessary infertility of gay and lesbian couples; they require a third party to create human life—all the time, every time. On the other hand, we may view the natural couple who happen to be too old to have children as just that: they happen to be too old. It is vital we employ the subjunctive mood here. It might have been the case that this couple could have been younger, in which case they in all probability would have had children. A similar logic is to be applied to a younger couple who are infertile for physiological reasons: one of them is for some reason reproductively compromised; it may have been otherwise; in which case they probably would have had children. Yet in the case of a same-sex couple, it is quite simply always indicatively the case that they are infertile; there is no subjunctive ‘may-be’, ever.

So Ron; I get it! I know the sense of frustration and anguish; I am close enough to members of the LGBT communities to know, and have been for many a year ... What grieves me most of all however is the Church’s failure to imagine creatively enough how to fully and appropriately respond. All we seem to be able to do is trumpet the world’s tragic and ironic solutions that will inevitably disappoint and destroy, in the longer term.

2. And now for the second paragraph re border crossings, which may be quickly addressed. Where were you and I during the ghastly genocides of the 1990s in Rwanda and Burundi? Did we cross their frontiers and lend our aid then? For that is their question! And to avoid a similar accusation, they now will willingly cross frontiers when we westerners face not such material destruction but spiritual disaster—that is the raison d’etre for their actions. And at least let’s understand it before simply getting all riled up and declare “schism” ...

Bryden Black said...

Ron: “It is Christ who holds us together not our doctrines about Him.”

One has heard this claim before Ron, and at first bluish it sure does have a certain cogency. Yet on closer and fuller inspection it fails to deliver. How so?

I recall years ago coming across a delightful wee book by JB Phillips, Your God is Too Small. He paints a number of pictures which caricature what people mean by “Christ”, and which seriously fall short of who He truly is, one way or another. Even calling Him Incarnate is not sufficient, since what one might mean by ‘God’ itself is not at all to be presumed/assumed. In other words, a level of doctrine must be engaged with, as we gauge what people mean by “Christ” over against the FULL picture given us by Scripture and summarized by the Creeds of the Ecumenical Church. And please don’t merely quote Jn 5:39-40 back at me. You have failed to engage with my earlier exegesis of the Johannine corpus ...

Father Ron Smith said...

Just, Bryden, as is my wont on such theological philosophical matters, on which you expound so voluminously; a short quote from the martyrology re St. Anselm - a REALLY expert theologian whose Feast-day is today - and which I enjoyed (quoted in the homily at today's Mass at SMAA):

"I do not try, Lord, to attain your lofty heights, because my understanding is in no way equal to it. But I do desire to understand your Truth a little, that Truth that my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but I believe so that I may understand. For I believe this also, that "Unless I believe I shall not understand."

In my own experience, Bryden, over many years, I have found that understanding on the mystery of Christ is given in direct proportion to one's Faith. Learned treatises need the base of Faith - even more than one's intellectual capacity. Also, meeting Christ in the Eucharist on a reguar basis helps. Christ is risen, Alleluia!

Bryden Black said...

Dear Ron,

Your quoting Anselm, who himself only cites Augustine, who also reads the Vulgate translation of the differing Hebrew of Isa 7:9, made me smile. For after all, Anselm went on to write quite a few seminal treatises ... And St Aug VOLUMES! But I guess we might also after all simply pass them by - ??? Pace, meus Pater in fidei!