Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

More on the Pilling Report
January 30, 2014, 3:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In a recent BBC interview, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “The Church of England’s view on same sex marriage is very, very clear and my own view on that is very, very clear. In this country we also need to be very, very clear about our profound opposition to homophobic behavior. And we are working on, and if I am really honest, struggling with the issue of how we recognize the love that exists between people who have a same-sex orientation; and who are committed to each other, and how that is recognized.”

He also said, “I do not support the idea of same sex marriage, and I hold the teaching of the Church of England which has not changed to any degree at all, that marriage is a lifelong union of one man with one woman.” That is indeed very, very clear, and welcome. But it is not at all clear what he means by “how we recognize the love that exists between people who have a same-sex orientation; and who are committed to each other, and how that is recognized.”

Love can mean many things. There is the love which is Christian charity, which we are commanded to have towards all, even our enemies. This is a matter of grace, and is a virtue. There are also loves which come from human nature, including that between parents and children, and between friends. These are good in themselves, though not automatically virtues. There is also erotic love, which flows from our human nature, but which is quite ambiguous. Christian teaching endorses it when it leads to marriage and procreation; but does not endorse it when it leads to sexual activity outside marriage (or even to selfish and exploitative behaviour within marriage). Such things occur. “Commitment” is not sufficient, and in any case not clear either. It could be found in adulterous relationships, or incestuous, or homosexual relationships. It does not sanctify any of these.

It cannot easily be maintained that Scripture sanctions sexual activity outside marriage, or that Scripture recognises marriage otherwise than as between male and female. The Chairman of GAFCON has rightly reminded us that, “At Lambeth 1998, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, by an overwhelming majority, affirmed in Resolution 1.10 that homosexual relationships were not compatible with Scripture, in line with the Church’s universal teaching through the ages, but the Pilling Report effectively sets this aside. The conversations it proposes are not to commend biblical teaching on marriage and family, but are based on the assumption that we cannot be sure about what the bible says.” He notes that “There has been intensive debate within the Anglican Communion on the subject of homosexuality since at least the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it is difficult to believe that the [Church of England Bishops’] indecision at this stage is due to lack of information or biblical reflection. The underlying problem is whether or not there is a willingness to accept the bible for what it really is, the Word of God.”

This is well said.


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The Archbishop says “we are struggling with the issue of how to recognise the love that exists between same sex orientation” We have no mechanism to measure and define the love that exists between heterosexual couples ,let alone same sex relationships: we cannot measure love,and the implication is that because the Church is “struggling” it is suggesting that it can measure love in marriage but that same sex love is not real! How much do we understand our own emotions ,and therefore how can we presume to judge and approve of the love between two persons of whatever gender? The motives in many aspects of our lives are uncertain and unclear in our own minds (although we think we may know) and certainly we may not presume to measure love,commitment ,intention in the mind and heart of others. May we legislate for love? The Pilling report refers to ‘being in line with the Church’s universal teaching. Listen to Pope Francis, who has said “who am I to judge”.

BBC News – Pope Francis: Who am I to judge gay people? 29 Jul 2013 – Pope Francis says gay people should not be marginalised but integrated into society, in an apparent softening of his predecessor’s line on the …

Regards, Veronica.


Comment by Eleanor Care

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