Monday, July 28, 2003

Gay Marriage, Polygamy and Polyamory

Maggie has written several important books related to the divorce culture and sexuality.--P.T.
In the new internet issue of The Weekly Standard: July 26

-Maggie Gallagher on gay marriage:

GAY MARRIAGE is no longer a theoretical issue. Canada has it. Massachusetts is expected to get it any day. The Goodridge decision there could set off a legal, political, and cultural battle in the courts of 50 states and in the U.S. Congress. Every politician, every judge, every citizen has to decide: Does same-sex marriage matter? If so, how and why?

The timing could not be worse. Marriage is in crisis, as everyone knows: High rates of divorce and illegitimacy have eroded marriage norms and created millions of fatherless children, whole neighborhoods where lifelong marriage is no longer customary, driving up poverty, crime, teen pregnancy, welfare dependency, drug abuse, and mental and physical health problems. And yet, amid the broader negative trends, recent signs point to a modest but significant recovery.

Divorce rates appear to have declined a little from historic highs; illegitimacy rates, after doubling every decade from 1960 to 1990, appear to have leveled off, albeit at a high level (33 percent of American births are to unmarried women); teen pregnancy and sexual activity are down; the proportion of homemaking mothers is up; marital fertility appears to be on the rise. Research suggests that married adults are more committed to marital permanence than they were twenty years ago. A new generation of children of divorce appears on the brink of making a commitment to lifelong marriage. In 1977, 55 percent of American teenagers thought a divorce should be harder to get; in 2001, 75 percent did.

A new marriage movement--a distinctively American phenomenon--has been born. The scholarly consensus on the importance of marriage has broadened and deepened; it is now the conventional wisdom among child welfare organizations. As a Child Trends research brief summed up: "Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes. . . . There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents."

What will court-imposed gay marriage do to this incipient recovery of marriage? For, even as support for marriage in general has been rising, the gay marriage debate has proceeded on a separate track. Now the time has come to decide: Will unisex marriage help or hurt marriage as a social institution? . . .

-Stanley Kurtz on polyamory:

AFTER GAY MARRIAGE, what will become of marriage itself? Will same-sex matrimony extend marriage's stabilizing effects to homosexuals? Will gay marriage undermine family life? A lot is riding on the answers to these questions. But the media's reflexive labeling of doubts about gay marriage as homophobia has made it almost impossible to debate the social effects of this reform. Now with the Supreme Court's ringing affirmation of sexual liberty in Lawrence v. Texas, that debate is unavoidable. Among the likeliest effects of gay marriage is to take us down a slippery slope to legalized polygamy and "polyamory" (group marriage). Marriage will be transformed into a variety of relationship contracts, linking two, three, or more individuals (however weakly and temporarily) in every conceivable combination of male and female. A scare scenario? Hardly. The bottom of this slope is visible from where we stand. Advocacy of legalized polygamy is growing. A network of grass-roots organizations seeking legal recognition for group marriage already exists. The cause of legalized group marriage is championed by a powerful faction of family law specialists. Influential legal bodies in both the United States and Canada have presented radical programs of marital reform. Some of these quasi-governmental proposals go so far as to suggest the abolition of marriage. The ideas behind this movement have already achieved surprising influence with a prominent American politician.

None of this is well known. Both the media and public spokesmen for the gay marriage movement treat the issue as an unproblematic advance for civil rights. True, a small number of relatively conservative gay spokesmen do consider the social effects of gay matrimony, insisting that they will be beneficent, that homosexual unions will become more stable. Yet another faction of gay rights advocates actually favors gay marriage as a step toward the abolition of marriage itself. This group agrees that there is a slippery slope, and wants to hasten the slide down. To consider what comes after gay marriage is not to say that gay marriage itself poses no danger to the institution of marriage. Quite apart from the likelihood that it will usher in legalized polygamy and polyamory, gay marriage will almost certainly weaken the belief that monogamy lies at the heart of marriage. But to see why this is so, we will first need to reconnoiter the slippery slope. . . .
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The Bishop of Quincy (who had to endure much ignominy in his waiting to be confirmed as bishop of the diocese) writes about the upcoming General Convention of the ECUSA. He is an Anglo-Catholic, a member of FiF NA and episcopal patron of the Prayer Book Society of the USA. It was my privilege when in the USA to be a member of his diocese.

July 27, 2003

Beloved in Christ,

I greet you in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit whose servants we are. I am certain that the Readings at Mass today have touched you deeply as we anticipate the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church. It is important that we recognize that it is a general Convention and that it is a general Convention of one small part of Anglicanism which is an even smaller part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I say this to you because it is very easy for us to elevate our status beyond what it was ever intended to be. The Episcopal Church's general Conventions do not have the same authority as an Ecumenical Council, nor does it have the same authority (obviously!) as does that of Holy Scripture. As a convention its prime purpose is to order our life together in the small part of Anglicanism called the Episcopal Church, and does not have authority to change doctrine or the Holy Scriptures. It is important for all of us to remember this. This very costly gathering of Episcopalians that occurs every three years in origin was simply a gathering of the family and has evolved into a Convention that exceeds in size virtually every political gathering that exists in this nation. Indeed, its name alone "convention" carries a very different meaning than what our brothers and sisters in most parts of the Anglican Communion call themselves when they gather as a "Synod." The difference, by the way, is worth noting. We are convening a convention to transact business, not to change doctrine or dogma.

Certainly Protestant Denominations in the United States gather together with the authority to assess, evaluate, and change because they are, in many instances THE authority not connected in a worldwide sense and not in Communion with an historic See. In our case we are in Communion with worldwide bishops and with the historic See of Canterbury. The question is, does the Episcopal Church exceed its authority as one of many Provinces in the Anglican Communion when it revises doctrine, dogma, practice, and Holy Scripture? Indeed, we have heard often that parochialism and congregationalism are contrary to Anglican ethos. We have heard that "diocesanism" that is, unprecedented practices by a single diocese are contrary to the ethos of Anglicanism, and by implication so is "provincialism", namely unprecedented actions by one province without the consensus and cooperation of the worldwide Anglican Communion in conversation with ecumenical partners. The Archbishop of Canterbury has raised the question of what it means to be a Communion as opposed to being a Confederation of Provinces, and the same question can be applied to our Episcopal Church as to whether we are a "national church" or a confederation of dioceses. Virtually all legislation of late has reinforced a "national church" concept unlike our pre-1950's model, but only in certain cases, and in many instances, when it is convenient.

In the case of the New Hampshire election it has been noted by those who advocate the confirmation of the bishop-elect that each diocese has a right to elect whomever they wish. It is interesting to note that in 1994 many of those dioceses and bishops did not feel that way about the January 1994 election in the Diocese of Quincy, and thus the confirmation process took many months and the bishop-elect was barely approved because of one issue. There were notable exceptions to this rule, including the then Bishop of Newark and his Standing Committee. The confirmation of the bishop-elect of New Hampshire, however, will be center stage at general Convention, due to the canonical requirement that all elections held within 120 days of general Convention must be confirmed at the general Convention. Usually the "traditional" way during the rest of the triennium is for the name of the bishop-elect to be sent to all Standing Committees in the Episcopal Church and then to the Bishops after a sufficient number of consents have come from the Standing Committees. In addition bishop -elect rarely appear on television or in the secular newspapers, for they take a low profile and decline interviews that may prejudice the process. One must wonder why this post election and pre-convention process has been punctuated with an unusual number of personal interviews. The process now cannot be dealt with on a theological level nor a procedural level, but it is now all about a person. The public will make its own decision on a human rights level, and any theological debate that speaks contrary to the confirmation of the bishop-elect will be called a "homophobic reaction." What a shame that we cannot lovingly disagree without it becoming a personal issue and without labels being applied. Indeed, one might conclude that opposition to certain traditional perspectives is a matter of "paralabaphobia" that is, an irrational fear of tradition. But that is not necessarily the case, for there are often well meaning people drawn into both sides of debate.

Therefore, since this election has been placed into the center of media coverage it is not inappropriate to include worldwide bishops and theologians of the Anglican Communion who can remind us that this is not just a decision to be made by a single diocese, nor is it simply a human rights issue; it is a biblical, theological, and ecclesiological issue that cannot be determined by a vote. God does not change His mind on the basis of a vote, and to ask Him to do so on any subject is a bit arrogant.........

There is room for everyone in Christ's Church, but it does not mean that we canonize every perspective that is brought. St. Paul, the Patron of our Diocese, told us in today's Gospel that there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all." There are not multiple lords, multiple faiths, multiple baptisms and multiple gods......

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Cosmic significance - holy matrimony

I think that we can agree that it is no accident of history that the debate over marriage/sexuality is raising much emotion and dividing friends and families now.

What is being revealed clearly to those with eyes to see is the rebellion of human beings against the Lord our God, against his revealed order, against the true nature of man as male and female, and against the poor of this world.

From within the Bible, and emphasised by the doctors of the Church, marriage has been understood for centuries as having a cosmic significance, while at the same time being about the relation between a man and woman. Marriage is a sign provided by God of the mystical union between Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church, the Bride. It is also a sign of the union in the one body of Christ and in the one eternal kingdom of God of Jew and Gentle. The one flesh union of holy matrimony serves as a pointer to what God wills for humanity.

Therefore, any attempt to disturb, hide or destroy this sign is to become an enemy of God and his holy order.

The Churches of the West, and the Episcopal Church of the USA in particular, have been allowing even encouraging such disturbance and destruction in recent times. From their abundance and enjoyment of the goods of this world, from their commitment to the autonomy of man as central in the universe, from their commitment to self-realization and self fulfilment, and from their morality based on civil and human rights teaching, they have allowed even encouraged the break-up of marriage, the divorce culture, the cohabitation of couples and the blessing of same-sex partnerships. And they have done and do this in the name of their new “God/dess” who seems to be an idol, set up in opposition to the LORD.

We need perhaps to look again at the Preface to the Marriage service in the BCP of 1662:

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee: and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprized, nor take in hand, inadvisedly, lightly or wantonly, to satisfy man’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.

Thirdly, it was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.

Here we get the cosmic significance of marriage and then a down to earth statement of what marriage in the real world ought to be about – not personal autonomy but co-creators with God where he makes this possible. The ECUSA especially, but not only, has got way off track!
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Friday, July 25, 2003

Orthodox, a relative term

If we exclude the ancient Patriarchates of the East and what is historically called [Eastern] Orthodoxy, it will be easier to reflect upon the use of the words "orthodox" and "orthodoxy" in the Western Church and within Protestantism in particular.

I want to suggest that within the Anglican Communion today "orthodox" is a relative term and relates not to fixed dogma and principles but rather to a position that is at the conservative end of the spectrum of public doctrine in a given Province at any one time.

"Ortho" means straight, right or correct. Thus "orthodox" is the holding of right doctrines and principles.

Who defines what is right? The Church meeting in sacred ecumenical council or in lesser synods. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope also defines dogma on rare occasions.

For Protestants such as Lutherans and Presbyterians orthodoxy has been seen as those dogmas/doctrines, based on the Bible, defined by ecumenical councils and confirmed by synods together with further doctrines defined by local synods and usually stated in confessions of faith.

For Anglicans orthodoxy has been seen as relating primarily to the holding of the dogmas and basic teaching set forth by the early Church from the Scriptures in the definitions of the Ecumenical Councils from Nicea (325) to Chalcedon (451), the teaching reiterated in the sixteenth century and made the foundation of the Book of Common Prayer, the Articles and the Ordinal, the classic Formularies.

In a true and proper sense, orthodoxy is what is held and taught by the Church or by a jurisdiction of the same. Orthodoxy is a mark or characteristic of the Church. However, in modern times, with the increase of diversity of opinions in society and churches, it is common to use "orthodox" of a person.

And the way it is used today is often not in an objective sense, that is measuring a denomination or parish or an individual clergyman against a known standard [e.g. the classic Anglican Formularies or the Book of Concord (Lutheran) or the Westminster Standards (Presbyterian)]; but, it is in comparison with the known teaching and opinions of those who are at the "left" of the ecclesiastical spectrum - the revisionist radicals or whatever we call them!

Thus in the Episcopal Church people claim to be orthodox even when they have abandoned much of the classic heritage of dogma, doctrine, worship and discipline that belongs to the historic Anglican way. If they oppose same-sex blessings and state that God's plan is for the union of male and female in marriage, and if they express the view that the Bible is the Word of God and authoritative, then they are "orthodox". And they are so even as and when they are committed to the full use of the 1979 prayer book and to its teaching (which was intended from its creation and first approval in 1976 to change the doctrine of the Protestant Episcopal Church in major ways).

To be orthodox as an Anglican even in 2003 surely means more than being opposed to the innovators and radicals who lead the ECUSA. It means embracing the One Canon of Scripture, with its Two Testaments, with its major doctrines set forth in Three Creeds, and its dogmatic Truth expressed by Four Ecumenical Councils, and its required discipline, polity, ministry, liturgy and moral order set forth in principle in Five Centuries of development. And embracing this foundation one also embraces the classic Formularies of the Anglican Way from the 16th century. Then one may humbly claim to be orthodox - but, at the same time, one also needs to live out daily in one's life this faith and have fellowship with those of like mind and together be witnesses to Christ, saving grace and divine truth and order.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Not all Primates want to interfere in ECUSA GC

ACNS 3522 | USA | 24 JULY 2003

Anglican leaders raise concerns regarding human sexuality; Archbishop of
Cape Town responds

by Matthew Davies

A gathering of over 60 worldwide Anglican leaders held a press conference yesterday at Truro Episcopal Church, Fairfax, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, DC), to raise awareness of their concerns regarding issues of human sexuality in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.

Their discussions particularly focussed on the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church, USA, where it may be decided to confirm the election of Canon Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be elected bishop in the Anglican Communion. The other chief concern is that the triennial Convention may vote to approve the blessing of same-sex unions.

Participants at the gathering included Anglican Primates and Archbishops, US Episcopal bishops and international Anglican bishops, clergy and laypersons.

Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Bernard Malango of Central Africa, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Yong Ping Chung of South East Asia and Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, wrote a letter to the Primates of the Global South asking that they confirm their agreement with a statement that they had drafted. The text of the statement read:

"We, primates of the global south of the Anglican Communion wish to indicate to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA that, should the Convention decide to confirm the election of Canon Gene Robinson as bishop or approve the blessing of same-sex unions or both, then we will convene within three months to confirm our view that ECUSA has thereby placed itself outside the boundaries of the Anglican Communion and that appropriate action will follow."

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Ndungane Njongonkulu, has responded to the request expressing that he "cannot in conscience and faith agree to support this draft statement".

"I believe that it is wrong and contrary to our Anglican Tradition and understanding of Canon Law to presume to interfere in the affairs of another Province," he said. "Such actions are a major threat to the fabric of our Communion. Let us respect the integrity of each Province."

Archbishop Ndungane was keen to proclaim that the Anglican Communion is bound together by shared links with the See of Canterbury and that "it would be profoundly inappropriate for any Province or any group of Provinces to presume to take on a role which properly belongs to the See of Canterbury, and with the whole Communion acting with the See of Canterbury."

"We need to approach each other with the love of Christ," he said. "We need to recognise that there are those who love our Lord on both sides of this difficult debate around human sexuality."

At the end of the statement the Archbishop said, "I would therefore plead with you my brothers to draw back from the way envisaged by the draft statement, and rather seek other ways of addressing our differences in the Body of Christ."

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Order & disorder in the ECUSA

Adelphoi (Brothers and Sisters),

Order and disorder

Before I leave the comparative safety of the Church of England for the General Convention of the ECUSA, I offer further comment on divorce, women in orders and same-sex blessings within the ECUSA.

Those who argue against me are only able to cite a very few examples of divorced men being retained in ministry before the 1960s and as far as I can see will never be able to cite examples of women who are ordained as presbyters not exercising headship in some way or another (for it is within the vows they take and within most actions they perform).

One thing is very clear to me. The way that the divorce culture and the women's ordination culture are prominently placed within the ECUSA in 2003 can only be justified on modern human rights and secular arguments, never at all on biblical or theological or traditional canon law ones.

But there is an obvious connection between divorce and remarriage, women in orders and same-sex blessings which is deeper than the fact that they are all inter-connected as direct products of the post World War II civil and human rights movements - movements whose ideology now supplies public morality for much of the USA and western Europe.

That deeper connection is that each of the three in a different way violates the doctrine of divine order for the relation of the two sexes, who are equal before God but also different in their God-given natures and vocations.

Divorce shatters what God has joined together - order is broken. Remarriage confirms and solidified the broken order (whatever human happiness may be claimed by parties involved in these acts).

Women in orders shatters the rule first stated in Genesis 1. God created man in his own image, male and female created he them. There is order in God's creation and in this the man is first and the woman second - this is not inferiority for her but second in order. Equal but different. The N T idea of headship of the male is based on this fact of creation. Further, the human relation is an image and sign of the Order within the Blessed Holy And Undivided Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Three Persons in an ordered relation one to another.

Same-sex blessing also is against the order of creation and the order of holy matrimony. For it is a blessing of serious disorder, of male united to male.

Because so many of us are involved in the divorce culture (directly or indirectly) and because all of us recognize the gifts and graces of women, we do not find it easy to see that divorce with remarriage and ordaining of women are both attempts to set aside the divine order within creation and within the new covenant. We find it easier to see that gay unions are against order because most of us have what is these days called a heterosexual orientation and we find some of the practices of consenting gay men repulsive.

It is no accident that in the post World War II history of the PECUSA, these three have been absorbed into the ECUSA at the same time as this Church set aside her classic Formularies (BCP, Ordinal & Articles) and adopted new liberal ones contained in the 1979 prayer book.

To be saved dioceses and parishes presently in the ECUSA need to return to divine Order so as to be recipients of divine Redemption!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

AAC, GC & Orthodoxy

(the major problem with this group who believe that they are orthodox is that their definition of orthodoxy is based on their comparison with the radicals of the ECUSA. If they were to compare their positions and pastoral practice with that of the classic Anglican Formularies and its traditional Canon Law, they would see that in many areas they too have departed from orthodoxy. But orthodoxy in the ECUSA is simply the latest line in the sand drawn by the more conservative membership and activists. So it includes much that is a departure from classic standards and norms.--P.T.)


"We're staying," says AAC President.

The American Anglican Council (AAC), the mainstream Anglican network in the Episcopal Church, today unveiled its comprehensive plans for the Episcopal Church's 74th Annual General Convention. The Convention will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from July 30-August 8, 2003.

"The AAC will launch an unprecedented mainstream Anglican presence at General Convention designed to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through legislative engagement, special events, worship and prayer, and the media," said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, AAC President. "We will also work diligently to prevent, on theological and practical grounds, any attempt by General Convention to step out of orthodoxy and affirm homosexual behavior."

In what most are calling a defining moment for the Episcopal Church, General Convention, through its votes on homosexuality issues, will be deciding whether or not the Church will break from the historic Christian faith and thus depart from the fellowship of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Specifically, Convention will vote on whether or not to give its consent to the election of Canon Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual Bishop Coadjutor-elect of New Hampshire. Canon Robinson is the first openly homosexual person to be elected bishop in the Anglican Communion. Convention will also likely vote on a resolution that would authorize the development of liturgies for the so-called "blessing" of same-sex unions.

"There are apparently many in the Episcopal Church who have decided that homosexuality is more important than remaining a part of the vibrant and growing Anglican family," said Canon Anderson. "Sadly they are willing to divide the family over an issue that the vast majority of the Communion has already concluded to be inconsistent with the Biblical faith."

"We will see at Convention if their voices win out," he added. "If they do, the Anglican Communion will see one of its family members leave the fold. As for the AAC, we are committed to remaining very much a part of the Anglican family. We're staying."

The AAC announced that its General Convention operations will be headquartered in the Central Lutheran Church, which it rented for the duration of the event. Central Lutheran is located directly across the street from the Convention Center. Most AAC events will be held in this venue, including the AAC's popular daily Legislative Briefing Lunches. Over the past several Conventions, the AAC's Briefing Lunches have earned the reputation of being the best way to find out what is happening legislatively on any given day. Legislative Briefing Papers, containing information compiled by the AAC's legislative committee monitors, are handed out during the daily luncheons and contain the very latest information on the status of most Convention legislation.

The AAC will also produce a daily newspaper at Convention, entitled "Encompass Daily." The four-page publication will offer daily Convention news, commentary, feature stories, a schedule of events and other items of interest. Douglas LeBlanc of "Christianity Today" will be joining the "Daily Encompass" writing team.

For those who can not make it to Minneapolis, the AAC has launched a special interactive website designed to provide the very latest news and information on Convention, Up-to-the minute news, daily photographs and prayer requests will be posted on the site. Those who sign up on the website will receive regular Convention email news and prayer alerts from the AAC.

The AAC and its affiliated ministries will hold a series of innovative educational, worship, and prayer events throughout Convention. One of the highlights is a "Concert for the Orphaned Children of the World." The concert, which will be held at 7:00 PM on Friday, August 1st, is jointly sponsored by Compassion International, TOUCH (Treasure One Ugandan Child) and the AAC and will feature contemporary Christian recording artist, Dove Award winner and four-time Grammy nominee Geoff Moore. Convention attendees will be able to purchase discounted tickets.

Throughout General Convention, in fact, the AAC will encourage Episcopalians to sponsor African AIDS orphans through TOUCH. This important ministry provides a way for Episcopalians to make a difference in children's lives and to engage proactively in the fight against the African AIDS epidemic.

"To help make the AAC's plans a reality, we will be bringing a small army of volunteers to Convention," said Canon Anderson. "These individuals are giving up their valuable vacation time and coming to Minneapolis at there own expense to help the AAC take a stand for mainstream Anglicanism and Biblical orthodoxy. We are very blessed by their willingness to serve."

"We now face the moment of truth," he said. "What will happen is anybody's guess. But I urge all Episcopalians, and all Christians, to pray for General Convention. What happens in Minneapolis will affect us all."

The AAC is a network of individuals, parishes, specialized ministries and Episcopal Bishops who affirm Biblical authority and Anglican orthodoxy within the Episcopal Church. For more information on the AAC, please visit our website at

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Presiding Bishop of ECUSA writes to the Primates of the Anglican Communion

ACNS 3519 | USA | 22 JULY 2003

[ACNS source: Episcopal News Service]

My dear brothers in Christ,

I write you on the eve of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to let you know some of what is on my mind and heart during these days of prayer and preparation.

I am aware that earlier this month a letter was sent to "concerned primates" from a number of bishops of the Episcopal Church, USA outlining what they called a "deteriorating situation within the Episcopal Church and elsewhere." They particularly pointed to two matters that will be before our General Convention: one pertaining to the confirmation of the bishop-elect of the Diocese of New Hampshire and the other dealing with the authorization of the development of rites for the blessing of same sex unions which would then be brought to the General Convention of 2006 for debate.

The polity of our church places the election of a bishop and the nomination process which precedes it entirely in the hands of the electing diocese. The election then must be confirmed by a majority of the diocesan standing committees (made up of clergy and laity) and by bishops with jurisdiction, each voting separately. When an election occurs within 120 days of a General Convention, the General Convention becomes the consenting body. Each bishop-elect must first gain the consent of a majority of the dioceses in the House of Deputies, which is comprised of elected clergy and lay members from each diocese. Next, ballots will be received from bishops with jurisdiction and the bishop-elect must receive a majority of those votes, as well.

At this General Convention ten dioceses will present bishops-elect for consent. The Diocese of New Hampshire and their bishop-elect are the focus of attention, not because of the competency and gifts of the Revd Canon V Gene Robinson, or because he was elected overwhelmingly by the clergy and laity of a diocese in which he has served for 28 years, but because he shares his life with a partner of the same sex. As Presiding Bishop and chief pastor, my concern, as I said in a letter to our bishops, is "how we move with grace through this time." I am including a copy of this letter for your information.

This election, though profoundly disturbing to a number of Episcopalians, is not surprising given that increasingly in our part of the world there is an acknowledgment that some men and women find that their deepest affections are ordered to members of the same sex. Our church has a number of lay persons and clergy for whom this is true. Some have chosen the path of celibacy and others live within the context of a sustained relationship. In this latter case we are not talking primarily about sexual behaviour which in both its heterosexual and homosexual manifestations can be profoundly sinful and little more than the compulsive pattern of lust so soundly condemned by St Paul . What we are talking about is the core of the personal identity of men and women who share with us in the risen life of Christ.

I, perhaps more than anyone else, realize how very problematic this election is for some of you, as well as for some members of my own church, including the bishops who wrote to you. I am also aware of the efforts that have been made to draw you into this impending debate. Because we are members one of another in the body of Christ through baptism and are called to share each other's burdens, your concern is appropriate and welcome. And may I say that I am always grateful when one of you contacts me directly to express your concerns.

Over these last five years I have continually reminded our church that we are part of a larger reality called the Anglican Communion, and that what we do locally has ramifications both positive and negative in other parts of the world. At the same time I am mindful that each of us has to interpret the gospel in our own context and within the particular reality of our own Province; there is no such thing as a neutral reading of Scripture. While we all accept the authority of Scripture, we interpret various passages in different ways.

I believe that the report of the House of Bishops Theology Committee, which was shared with you, can be helpful here. In a section entitled Living In Disagreement it states: "Our present conclusion is that equally sincere Christians, equally committed to an orthodox understanding of the Faith we share, equally looking to Scripture for guidance on this issue, are deeply divided regarding questions with respect to homosexuality. It will be crucial for all parties in this debate to ask God's blessing on their ever-deepening conversion in Christ, and to pray for God's love and forgiveness to be granted to all. Faithfulness and the courage to offer love and acceptance to those with whom we disagree is the great need of the moment."

As Professor David Ford told us several years ago during one of our primates meetings, we are in the process of becoming a communion. I have reflected often upon his words and come to see more and more that communion is not a human construction but a gift from God. Communion involves not only our relationships to one another on earth but our being drawn by the Holy Spirit into the eternal life of communion which belongs to the Holy Trinity. Communion on this earth is always in some way impaired, both because of our limited understanding of God's ways and our own human sinfulness. Because we have been baptized into one body through the death and resurrection of Christ, we cannot say to one another "I have no need of you." (1 Corinthians 12:21) This means that maintaining communion is a sacred obligation. It is not easy and involves patience with one another, ongoing conversion, and a genuine desire to understand the different ways in which we seek to be faithful to the gospel. Declarations of being "in" or "out" of communion with one another may assuage our anger or our fear, but they can do little to show our broken and divided world that at the heart of the gospel is to be found a reconciling love that can embrace our passionately held opinions and transcend them all.

Please know how deeply I value each one of you as fellow pilgrims on a continuing journey into the ever unfolding truth of Christ. Grounded in Scripture, the historic creeds, the councils of the church and the sacraments of the new covenant, it is my prayer and deepest hope that our General Convention will reflect the mind of Christ such that our church can be an authentic sign of God's reconciling love.

Yours sincerely in Christ's love,

The Most Revd Frank T Griswold

Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church, USA

Where I agree with bishop-elect Gene Robinson

I agree with Canon Robinson that those within the ECUSA who threaten to break communion with him and all dioceses who support him (presuming his election as bishop) are neither wholly consistent nor genuinely pastoral in their doctrine.

By voting for the right of “gay” couples to have their personal covenant blessed by the Church as a partnership that God blesses and will bless, the ECUSA will be consistent in the path it has followed and walked for about fifty years or so.

By voting for the right of “gay” couples to have their personal covenant blessed by the Church as a partnership that God blessed and will bless, the Bishops of the ECUSA will be pastoral in their treatment of these persons, female and male, as they recognize their human rights.

In stating these things, I am not saying that the ECUSA will please God the Holy Trinity by approving and blessing such unions (and confirming persons in them as worthy persons to be candidates for holy orders). I am saying that in terms of what the ECUSA has already approved, to approve this further measure is merely to continue her modern tradition and is to be acting justly and fairly to a minority with claimed rights.

Consider these things.

When the PECUSA in the 1950s and following approved the marriage of divorced persons, including priests and bishops, in church and then allowed divorced priests and bishops to be ordained or to continue in office, it was generally agreed that the Church was going against the mind and teaching of Jesus and also against the moral teaching of Anglican (and western catholic) canon law. Now the divorce culture is so much part of modern Episcopalianism that it is taken for granted.

If the solemn teaching of Jesus can be set aside for heterosexual persons, why not for homosexual persons?

Further, in this area of sexual relations, if marriage can be understood as only a union for sexual pleasure and companionship (as is common now in the ECUSA) without procreation being intended, why cannot “gay” persons enjoy companionship and sex?

When the ECUSA changed her Formularies in the 1970s, setting aside the classic received Formularies and putting in place new ones, many recognized that deliberate and major changes were being made to the doctrine, worship and discipline of the Church. Those innovations are now embedded in modern Episcopalianism, providing a foundation for its innovations.

If the classic received Formularies of the Anglican Way can be set aside and new ones brought in, why cannot the old rules about homosexual sex be changed to meet new conditions?

When the ECUSA, having innovated by ordaining women as priests and bishops, then went ahead to mandate acceptance of this innovation (as though this novel doctrine was a proposition of the Creed), it was known that the Anglican doctrine of reception (approved by the Lambeth Conference & Primates’ Meeting) was being set aside in order to force the acceptance of the innovation and the place of women in all dioceses.

If such a mandate can be in place to support the women of the Church, why cannot there be an appropriate mandate in favour of monogamous, faithful “gay” couples?

When the ECUSA has not a clear voice against abortion and has no discipline to impose on its members who approve, make use of or perform this surgical procedure, it is widely known & accepted that biblical and traditional teaching on the sanctity of life is being breached.

If space is made for the “right to choose” abortion movement in the ECUSA, why should there not be the right to choose a sexual partner for “gay” persons?

Over the years the ECUSA has been wide open to the adoption and absorption of the calls and demands of the civil rights and human rights movements. Since governments and corporations now accept the rights of gay persons why should the ECUSA hesitate any longer to do what is right by them?

For the ECUSA Convention in August not to approve same-sex partnerships and not to elect Gene Robinson will be either to delay the seeming inevitable until next time or it could be the beginnings of a major U-turn.


Those who oppose same-sex blessings and the election of Gene Robinson need to be consistent. They need to go back to the drawing board (the Bible, the Creeds, the pre-1979 Formularies and Canon Law) and determine to renew their dioceses & parishes by returning to the whole of biblical sexual ethics and only allowing those human and civil rights that are not contrary to the Law of the Lord our God. Only radical reform and renewal energized from Above can restore classic Anglican Christianity to the ECUSA or parts thereof. For it to start those claiming to be “orthodox” and “biblical” will have to become so in spirit and in truth.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Suicide & British Politics, July 18-21, 2003

What I write I do so hestitatingly for I risk being misinterpreted and misunderstood. Yet I think what I say is worth saying.

After it was known that Dr Kelly had taken his own life last Friday, there was in the media the attributing of blame to various parties - No 10 Downing Street, the Ministry of Defence, the BBC, the Select Committee of Parliament, and so on. The Prime Minister set up immediately an official Enquiry into the reasons for the death of this scientist and civil servant.

What has struck me - amongst other things of course - is the fact that everywhere it has been taken for granted that this man had the RIGHT to take his own life. This right apparently exists when a person is under such pressures that he feels he cannot or will not bear them any longer (see E. Durkheim, Suicide, 1951, for complex motives involved in suicides).

Now I do not want to minimize the terrific pressures that this man was put under when it became known he had spoken to a journalist about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.

What I want to say is that the Christian doctrine has long been that suicide is always wrong, whatever the motive. This said, God is the judge of why a person is driven to this extremity and he is the Compassionate One.

In this case we do not know why, we can only guess. However, what we do know is that he had duties and responsibilities as a husband and father , to his family and others. Also we can say that he had no right ( in the sense of a human right) to take his own life and thus remove himself from the duties of life that he had taken upon himself.

Finally, in all the attributing of blame, no one (whom I have heard or read) has even suggested that he alone is responsible for his action. Others certainly brought great pressures upon him. But it was he who decided to commit suicide, and who planned it with precision.

We pray that God will have mercy upon his soul and minister to his bereaved family and give the rest of us clearer perceptions of our relation to and our duty to our Maker who is also our Judge.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Monday, July 21, 2003

ECUSA , the Pioneer & Innovator, & her General Convention, 2003

The PECUSA (more recently the ECUSA) has been a pioneer and innovator within the Anglican Family in a variety of ways since the eighteenth century. Since the 1950s she has greatly increased her pioneering! And the Anglican Churches of the North/West seem to be following in her footsteps, howbeit slowly and less confidently.


She became an independent Church, outside the British Isles & Empire, with her own Polity, Bishops, Prayer Book, Ordinal and Articles of Religion in the eighteenth century, but remained in communion with the Church from which she separated.

In her Prayer Book of 1789 she not only revised the BCP 1662 to reflect conditions in the new U.S.A., but also to take account of doctrinal considerations and the latitudinarianism of the day (e.g., her Communion Office took from Scottish Rites; she omitted one of the Three Creeds of the Church of England and she revised the marriage service).

In her Polity, through her General Convention, she involved laity directly with Bishops and Clergy in her internal government.

In missionary work she established dioceses in other countries and passed on to the new churches the Threefold Ministry and her liturgical worship.

She produced the famous Statement of the Principles by which Anglican Churches are to approach ecumenical relations with other Churches - the Chicago Quadrilateral (1886) which became the Lambeth Quadrilateral when accepted by the Lambeth Conference of Bishops (1888)

Much American thinking, inside and outside the Churches of the USA, in the early days of the Republic, were conditioned by natural rights (life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness) and these easily were made part of traditional Christian Theism. Further, they fitted harmoniously into the latitudinarian theology and churchmanship of most of the late 18th and early 19th century leadership, clerical and lay.

From natural to civil & human rights

In the 20th century, talk no longer was of natural rights but rather of civil and human rights and these came into play especially after World War II and the famous United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The PECUSA (now calling herself the ECUSA) pioneered the absorption of civil and human rights by church action, teaching, polity, worship and canon law in the second half of the 2oth century. This was made possible because not only were a few Episcopalians closely involved in the changing American culture (as members of the new middle class in education, government etc.) but also because of the Church's inheritance of latitudinarian teaching.

In many ways the innovations that began in the 1950s and were accelerated in the late 1960s follow a pattern of development. For once the principles of civil rights and human rights are accepted, it is very difficult to discriminate between one set of rights and another, for they all have the same foundation - the individual human being as a person of dignity & worth (but worth judged by varying standards, from the secular norms of the day to traditional doctrines of man made in the image of God). Looking back it is difficult to find fault in principle with much of the civil rights claimed and gained - e.g., rights to vote, to attend school, to attend church, to sit on a bus and so on.

But with the human rights the evaluation of them is more difficult and complex for some of them, claimed on the basis that a human being not only has worth but is also autonomous, clearly are at odds with received Christian teaching and in some cases clear Biblical teaching. Here are some of the rights that have been absorbed by the Church/churches that are at odds with received doctrine as that was known in the 1950s:

  • The right for a man or woman to marry again in church after a divorce

  • The right to use contraceptives in marriage so as not to have children

  • The right of a woman to be ordained presbyter and bishop

  • The right of a "gay" person to live in a "faithful partnership" with another "gay" person

  • The right to suicide and to Christian burial afterwards

  • The right of a divorced person to be ordained priest or bishop and the right of a divorced priest or bishop to continue to serve after divorce

  • The right of a "gay" person to be ordained priest and bishop

  • The right of a church to make a mandated teaching any of the above so that office holders must accept it

  • The right of a church to change official doctrine & liturgy " canon law in order to reflect its absorption of human rights' principles

  • The right of a church to change the received language of prayer and doctrine in order to accommodate the sensitivities of feminists and "gays".

And so on.

Now the absorption of human rights into the life of the ECUSA did not occur in a vacuum of course. Society and culture were changing and the seminaries of the Church where priests were trained were paying less attention to the Bible and traditional doctrine and more to psychology and psychotherapy. Further, the emphasis in doctrine (as clearly reflected in the 1979 Prayer Book and its An Outline of the Faith) was on "doing theology from below" rather than "doing theology from above", that is, theology tended to start from the human being rather than from God in his self-revelation. Clergy were trained to be managers and therapists/counsellors and to seek peace and justice in society - not to save people from an evil generation into the ark of forgiveness, eternal life and grace of the heavenly kingdom of God.

Bearing all this in mind - and more - it is wholly to be expected that the General Convention of 2003 will continue to legislate that which are innovations, based on "secular" human rights and on a theology which begins from the human being (as she or he is seen through modern eyes). Specific examples will be in the approval of new liturgies and in specific sexual partnerships.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Saturday, July 19, 2003

BBC & Canon Gene Robinson

On Saturday, July 19th, at about 8.35 am London time the BBC on its Radio 4 Today programme, had an interview with Canon Gene Robinson, the "gay " priest soon to be elected bishop by the General Convention of the ECUSA (which event I expect to witness).

He seemed very calm and clear and confident.

He rehearsed all the familiar positions about homosexuality as an orientation and about the noveelty and goodness of faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships

He stated he was called by God to be a bishop and that with the help of his spiritual director he had distinguished his ego from the call of God and was sure that he was really called by God. He was not called to celibacy.

He believed that Rowan Williams, Archbishop, would one day bless him but he did not need his blessing now.

He was sorry about threats of breaking communion by conservatives and he urged them to pray more and discern more carefully where the Spirit was leading the Anglican family.

He was sorry about what happened to Canon John in England. There was opposition to the ordination of women and there is opposition to the ordination of a gay person; but both will pass away.

The unity of the Church, he said, is based on Jesus Christ not on sexual views and Jesus said nothing about same-sex partnerships.

I think that he will have impressed a lot of people and made them wonder what all the fuss is about. Most of his hearers belong to a culture where human rights provides the morality and thus they cannot see what is wrong in Gene's position, especially as he sounds so reasonable and kind.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Humanae Vitae, then & now

(Whether we like it or not, the matter of modern sexual practice & innovations cannot be separated from the wide availability of contraception. Read on! --P.T.)

Germain Grisez on "Humanae Vitae," Then and Now
The Dust Still Hasn't Settled, But There Are Signs of Hope

EMMITSBURG, Maryland, JULY 14, 2003 ( The encyclical on birth control, "Humanae Vitae," remains as a milestone in the era after the Second Vatican Council.

As the document's 35th anniversary approaches, ZENIT asked Germain Grisez, professor of Christian ethics at Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary, for a historical perspective.

Q: What was the primary significance of "Humanae Vitae"?

Grisez: With "Humanae Vitae," Paul VI reaffirmed the constant and very firm teaching of the Church excluding contraception. I believe and have argued that teaching had already been proposed infallibly by the ordinary magisterium -- that is, by the morally unanimous agreement of the bishops of the whole world in communion with the popes. Together, they had taught for many centuries that using contraceptives always is grave matter.

Their manner of teaching implied that what they taught was a truth to be held definitively. Thus, the teaching on contraception met the conditions for infallible teaching, without a solemn definition, articulated by Vatican II in "Lumen Gentium," 25.

Q: Pope John XXIII had set up a small committee to plan the Holy See's submissions about population, family and natality to international meetings. In June 1964, Paul VI greatly enlarged that body and directed it to study the questions that were then being raised about contraception. If the teaching was already proposed infallibly, why did Paul VI do that?

Grisez: After John XXIII died in June 1963, several theological articles were published either suggesting that the received teaching on contraception had been mistaken, or that it was subject to exceptions, or that using the "pill" to prevent conception was somehow morally different from other methods. Cardinal [Alfredo] Ottaviani, prefect of the Congregation of the Holy Office, was preparing a document rejecting such theological opinions.

But Paul VI's closest personal theological adviser, who in no way questioned the received teaching itself, was convinced that the pill was indeed similar to natural family planning, and therefore morally acceptable. Then some members of the committee John XXIII had set up urged Paul VI to delay judgment and study the matter.

Paul VI was determined not to ask anything of married couples that God does not require of them. That Pope also was a scholarly man, open-minded and willing to study. So, he told Cardinal Ottaviani not to deal with the subject, greatly enlarged the small committee but left it under the control of the Secretariat of State, and told it to study the questions at issue.

Still, Paul VI made no effort to define those issues. He wanted to give those who thought there was a way around the received teaching every opportunity to make their case.

Q: Did not the vast majority of the commission agree in their June 1966 report, which was leaked to the press, that contraception was morally acceptable for married people?

Grisez: The final report of the commission was not one of the documents that were leaked to the press, and, so far as I know, it has never been published. The leaked documents, which were misleadingly labeled, were among the appendices to the final report, and none of them was agreed upon by the majority of the 16 cardinals and bishops who made up the commission after it was restructured in February 1966, although they did approve sending those documents along to Paul VI.

True, the majority of the theologians, who were then among the periti [experts] advising the cardinals and bishops, had argued that contraception was morally acceptable, and nine of the 16 cardinals and bishops agreed with their position.

But virtually all the theologians and all but one of the cardinals and bishops also agreed that the pill was not morally different from other contraceptives, which had long been condemned.

Q: Still, having put the commission to work, why did Paul VI reject the conclusion about the morality of contraception reached by both a large majority of the theological experts and a majority -- nine of 16 -- of the cardinals and bishops?

Grisez: Because Paul VI was not interested in the number of those who held an opinion but in the cases they made for their views. In this respect, too, he acted like a scholar rather than a politician. Having received the commission's final report, he studied it.

After about four months, he announced on Oct. 29, 1966, that he found some aspects of the majority's case to be seriously flawed. He continued studying and concluded that the commission was right in holding that the pill is not morally different from other methods of contraception.

Eventually he became completely convinced that there was no alternative to reaffirming the received teaching. He then took great care preparing the document that was eventually published as "Humanae Vitae."

Q: The world had to wait until July 25, 1968, for the publication of the encyclical. What was happening in the meantime?

Grisez: Unfortunately, proponents of contraception among theologians and bishops took advantage of the delay to prepare an unprecedented response to the document. Dissenting theological statements were readied, and a strategy for maximizing the public impact of those statements was worked out.

Some groups of bishops also laid the groundwork for their later statements undercutting not only "Humanae Vitae" but the constant and very firm teaching on contraception itself. At first, Paul VI commented on the reaction, but he never really responded to the dissent.

Q: Facing down such intense dissent would have been difficult in any age ...

Grisez: Since the dissent was widespread and involved many bishops and even several conferences of bishops, disciplinary action plainly was out of the question.

It is worth recalling that Paul VI also was concerned about the "Dutch Catechism," some of whose formulations he considered to be incompatible with defined doctrines. In that case, too, he appointed a commission to deal with the problem. That commission proposed corrections, but the Dutch bishops refused to incorporate them. Instead, a version of the corrections was printed as an appendix in later editions. And Paul VI took no further action on that matter.

Q: What were the consequences of the dissent to "Humanae Vitae" and on the "Dutch Catechism"?

Grisez: During the next decade, theological dissent from the teaching of "Humanae Vitae" spread to other moral norms, especially those concerned with sex, marriage and innocent life. Pastoral practice on all those matters became far more permissive than it had been before Vatican II.

At the same time, many theologians published works on the central dogmas of the faith that proposed theories incompatible with defined doctrines. The teaching in many seminaries treated those theological views on both morals and faith as acceptable. During that period, the reform of the liturgy planned by Vatican II was carried through. But as the new rites were put into effect, abuses became widespread. Many priests and religious quit, and the numbers of seminarians and novices dropped steeply.

Q: John Paul II became Pope in October 1978. Has he not dealt with all those problems during the past 25 years?

Grisez: He certainly has tried to. He has taught vigorously and repeatedly, and Cardinal Ratzinger has worked closely with him in an effort to deal with theological dissent, both on moral teachings and on the central dogmas of faith.

However, in practice, dissent from the Church's moral teaching is prevalent in the affluent nations. And I think that the appearance of doctrinal unity among the bishops of the world is somewhat deceptive. In my judgment, the overall situation today is no better than it was when Paul VI died.

Q: Still, in many places, natural family planning is being promoted. There also are many young families with four, five, six, or more children. And a great many young people are active in pro-life activities. Doesn't it seem as if some people are listening to the message of "Humanae Vitae"?

Grisez: Indeed, some are. Though in my judgment the overall situation has not improved since Paul VI died, neither has it grown worse. The message of "Humanae Vitae" -- which is the message of the whole Christian tradition -- is still being heard.

Public opinion polls are notoriously unreliable, but it is interesting that they do not seem to show any significant decrease during the past 35 years in the percentage of Catholics who accept the teaching of "Humanae Vitae." That is remarkable and encouraging, considering that almost everyone who was over 65 in 1968 has died, and almost nobody under 40 today was able to read the news reports about "Humanae Vitae" when it appeared.

For that persistence of faith, we have to thank the Holy Spirit! But we also have to thank Pope Paul's courage and clarity, and Pope John Paul II's rich and very persistent teaching in a whole series of documents, especially "Familiaris Consortio," the series of talks that laid out the "theology of the body," "Veritatis Splendor," and "Evangelium Vitae."

Then too, we have to thank the many faithful pastors, teachers, parents -- all those who have kept the faith and handed it on, often in very difficult circumstances.

Canon John's Letter to Reading Paper

Here is the Letter printed in the local paper of the city of Reading, Berkshire (diocese of Oxford).

Jul 17 2003

Reading Chronicle

I WOULD very much like to thank all the local media and the many people of the Reading Episcopal area who welcomed my nomination as Bishop, and who have continued to offer me warm support over the difficult weeks that just passed.

I have received literally thousands of messages, including many hundreds from the Reading area. The overwhelming majority of them have been friendly and supportive.

As well as messages from Anglican clergy and laity, many came from leaders and representatives of other denominations and of other faiths, looking forward to our working together.

I am also extremely grateful to the Lords Lieutenant of Berkshire and Oxfordshire, to Reading's Members of Parliament and other Berkshire MPs, and to the many representatives of local government who sent their good wishes and offers of support. This avalanche of kindness has left me all the more saddened and disappointed that I cannot now come to serve you as your Bishop.

I have received an impression of Reading, and of the great majority of Reading Christians, as instinctively fair, welcoming, accepting and willing to give a stranger (even one with a 'gay' label) a chance to prove himself.

I am more sorry than I can express that in the end that chance was taken away.

Many of those who have written to me since the withdrawal of my nomination have said they are tempted to leave the Church in disgust.

That is a reaction I understand all too well, but it is not the way.

We have to keep praying, keep moving our communion, keep studying the scriptures, keep loving those who hurt and reject us.

Love wins in the end, and if we are faithful, in the end we will build a Church that looks more like Jesus and that will truly be a home for all God's children.

I will keep Reading in my prayers, and hope you will keep me in yours.

Jeffrey John

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

How much is the introduction of the 1979 Prayer responsible for the modern ECUSA?

A discussion starter

Members of the Prayer Book Society of the USA have often said that the removal of the classic Book of Common Prayer (edition of 1928) and its replacement by a new type of Prayer Book (approved by General Convention in 1976/79) is the root cause of the ills, errors and contraction of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA. This is a broad and general claim and it has to be understood against the background of (a) the use of experimental liturgies from the mid 1960s through to mid 1970s; (b) the fact that the Prayer Book of 1976/79, though called "The Book of Common Prayer", is in fact a new type of prayer book, with new shape, new content, new style and new doctrine, and (c) a large decline in membership of the Episcopal Church from its high point in 1965.

As a popular kind of claim it has much to commend it but as a serious, historical claim it cannot be sustained.

What is absolutely clear to all is that the arrival of the new Prayer Book on the scene was a major part of great changes in the Episcopal Church as it responded to the ethos generated by the revolutionary 1960s. It was to be both a liberal Catholic and liberal Protestant kind of Anglican Church where there was room for all who were prepared to tolerate others of different mind and churchmanship (except "fundamentalists" and hard-core traditionalists). Conservative types would be tolerated but not encouraged so that they would "die out" eventually.

It is abundantly clear, to the trained observer, that much of the content of the new Prayer Book of 1976/79 is related to the changed attitude towards the Bible and the Christian Tradition that was being widely taught in seminaries & universities of the Church after World War II. If there is one primary cause of the demise of the PECUSA as a traditional Church, it is its absorption, primarily through the education of its clergy, of what may be termed low views of the authority of Holy Scripture in Faith and Morals, and thus also its acceptance of critical views of those traditional doctrines/dogmas that were based on a high view of the authority of Holy Scripture. A primary example of this change, which quickly was accepted, was the tremendous increase from the 1950s of weddings in churches for the divorced. The Episcopal Church gave a significant push to the spreading of the divorce culture because of its influential membership from the 1950s to the 1970s.

There is also no doubt but that the revolutionary decade of the 1960s had the effect of bringing the application of these low views of the authority of Scripture into general church life. At the same time the authority of "Experience" increased rapidly to fill the void or vacuum - that is Experience of what we learn from our own individual lives, especially what we feel, from the experience of people in general, and from the sciences that study experience. God became for many the God of peace and justice, the God who is to be served through working for human & civil rights, the God with whom I am in a personal relationship via my feelings. Thus at the point where "liturgical renewal" seriously began - the mid 1960s - the ethos of the Church was rapidly changing, even though many of the older membership, laity and clergy, had not yet grasped or realised the nature and extent of it.

The actual final content of the new Prayer Book (1976/79) would have been impossible without these massive theological, moral and cultural changes. However, and very significantly, these changes were set in what may be termed a conservative structure, skeleton or shape. Models or structures of services from the third and fourth century were used to provide the shape into which to place the new content. And so it was possible to make claims that this new Liturgy and certain recovered ceremonies were a return to the early Church. This greatly helped to make the content acceptable to both "Catholics" and "Protestants", the former impressed by its "ancient catholic character" and the latter by its "accessibility and intelligibility."

As the new Prayer Book took shape (1967-1976) the Episcopal Church also felt the full force of the civil rights and then human rights movements, and in response to this powerful cultural force, there came the ordination of women, the attempts to create a new form of "God-language" which was not sexist, and the increasing calls from the growing Lesbigay movement for full recognition in the Church. We need to be clear that there would have been the pressures from the Liberationist, Feminist and Lesbigay movements even if no liturgical changes were in process.

If we switch to other parts of the Anglican Communion to see what was going on there, we see that even where the classic Book of Common Prayer is preserved as the chief Formulary, there have been innovations introduced because of pressure from below - that is because of modern cultural forces. The Church of England and the Anglican Church of Canada bowed to the feminist movement and voted for the ordination of women. In fact, an argument was made from the nature of the language of the classic Prayer Book that since "he" can mean "she and he" and since "man" includes "woman" the Ordinal in the 1662 Prayer Book can be used to ordain women. And both these churches have now accepted that divorced persons can be married in church, and also are now in the painful process of accepting slowly but surely the rights of those who call themselves "gay". Further, through their production of alternative Service Books to exist alongside the Prayer Book, they have through these introduced most of the doctrinal and moral changes found in the 1979 USA Book.

I do not write the above to claim that the introduction of the 1976/79 Prayer Book was a good thing. It was for many reasons a bad thing. It made nearly impossible the existence and future of Biblical & Patristic Christianity in the Anglican Way in the USA. However, it was not itself and alone the primary cause of the great changes in the Episcopal Church in the latter part of the twentieth century.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon July 16th 2003

Important Book now available in UK

(this is from Earl Fox who took a D.Phil at Oxford some years ago in philosophy. David Virtue is a well known journalist in anglican affairs. -- P.T.)


The book by David Virtue and myself, "Homosexuality: Good & Right in the Eyes of God? the Wedding of Truth to Compassion and Reason to Revelation", is now available in England. ISBN #0945778015 at both Bertrams and Gardners via the Print on Demand process.

It is a long read (550 pp), but it is going to be a long war, and sound-bytes will not pass muster. My estimate is that we will lose the next several rounds. Most clergy here, as you no doubt know, will not touch the issue with a ten foot pole. So the other side marches on, virtually unopposed.

On the other hand, there are here and there intelligent and compassionate and hard-hitting voices beginning to be heard.

So far as I know, it is the only book available which has a comprehensive, Biblical, and scientifically credible strategy for taking the offensive and winning the sexuality debates. You can get more information about it on the Emmaus website with sample pages, etc. Hopefully it will be helpful over there.

Pentecost Blessings
Earle Fox
** Emmaus Ministries - a School of Christian Apologetics
** 2605 Schooley Dr., Alexandria, VA 22306 703 765-7862
["HOMOSEXUALITY: Good & Right in the Eyes of God?" $22 postpd from Emmaus ]

Which is the worst innovation in the ECUSA since the 1960s?

If the General Convention in August 2003 by a majority vote confirms the election of the "Gay Priest", Gene Robinson, as the Bishop of New Hampshire, will this be the worst example of an line of endorsements of bad innovations that it has yet approved?

1.Certainly some people think that it will be the worst innovation. They believe that God's will for sexual relations in humanity are to be confined to a couple who are joined together as one flesh in the covenant and sacrament of marriage. They hold that natural law and basic biology supports the ordering of a man towards a woman and a woman towards a man for procreation and companionship and for the nurture of children. Thus the ordering of a male to a male or a female to a female in sexual activity they see as an abomination. It matters not whether such activity is in stable partnerships or in random encounters, it is wickedness and invites God's wrath. (This position is held by people who approve of divorce and remarriage and by those who do not do so.)

2. Some people think that the innovation of a "gay bishop" in a relationship and thus of general approval for same-sex partnerships is before God and in the grand scheme of things no worse as a sin than is the general approval given by the General Convention over the years to the marriage of divorcees and the public ministry of divorced persons - that is the approval of the phenomenon of serial monogamy. There is general agreement that Jesus made little or no allowance for divorce and re-marriage in his ethics of the kingdom of God. Further, while serial monogamy is not so obviously against the natural ordering of the sexes as is homosexuality, it is against the natural order in that it does not usually or normally provide a stable home environment for children. Thus it is asserted that the innovations of the blessing of same-sex couples and the consecrating of a "gay man" as a bishop are not worse than the consecrating of a divorced man and the allowing of the marriage of the divorced. (This position is held by people who approve of divorce and remarriage and by those who do not do so.)

3. Some people think that the worst innovation was the decision to ordain women as priests and bishops and to mandate this doctrine and practice for all office bearers. They believe that the setting aside of the historic Ministry made up of men only brings into serious question the availability of the grace of God through what have been called "the means of grace" - sacraments etc. They hold that the Church ceases to be the Church of God, the Catholic Church, if her ministry is not valid. A "gay man" in holy orders remains a priest of God and the Sacraments he celebrates remain means of divine grace to worthy communicants. Likewise a divorced man in holy orders is a priest and a source of sacramental grace. Thus being divorced and being gay do not constitute barriers in the same way as does being an ordained women who cannot be by God's decree celebrants of true sacraments. (This position is held by those who approve of divorce and remarriage and those who do not do so.)

4. Some people think that the worst innovation was the decision to replace the classic, historic Book of Common Prayer (1662,1789,1891 & 1928) with a Book of Alternative and Varied Services and thereby set aside historic worship, doctrine and discipline. They trace all bad innovations to this primary and massive innovation which was passed by General Convention in 1976 & 1979, but was in preparation from the mid 1960s. However, there is not absolute agreement as to what are the bad innovations flowing from this change in Formulary.

And there are other positions that could be described.

How one evaluates the innovation of ordaining a "gay man" as a bishop will affect whether or not one sees it as a cause for separating from the ECUSA or for declaring a diocese or a parish out of communion with other dioceses or parishes. Those who see this innovation as the Church blessing depravity and judge it to be a sin of graver nature and consequences than other sins (innovations) they will face major questions and decisions.

The cynic will probably observe that the reality of the excellent pension fund of the ECUSA and the generally good stipends paid to clergy will weigh heavily not necessarily in how clergy and bishops talk but rather in what they finally do. This has been the story of clergy reaction to innovations since the 1960s. Only the few have departed. The majority has adjusted its theology and morality and made a new line in the sand of where orthodoxy ends and apostasy begins. Time will tell.

Meanwhile a once blessed Jurisdiction is increasingly submerged by the tides of secularism.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Archbishop of Canterbury delivers Presidential Address at General Synod

ACNS 3507 | ENGLAND | 14 JULY 2003

Does the Church of England exist? One thing that recent weeks and months have reinforced for me is that there are several different 'Churches of England'; that they do not communicate with each other very effectively; and that they need to learn how to do this better if they are to fulfil their primary task of witnessing to God's transforming power. Which means trying to find out what it is that makes these diverse 'churches' one; if we can't answer this, we are in trouble.

What do I mean by saying there are several Churches of England? In the first place, as we all know very well, English Anglicanism is a mosaic of groups many of which are sure that theirs is the natural, historically justified, faithful way of being an Anglican Christian. Some of these, for example - as in the sixteenth century - believe that the English Reformation is still incomplete, or barely begun. The reconstruction of the Church on faithful scriptural principles is not very far advanced, and must be fought for, with increasing urgency as it seems that unscriptural principle (or lack of principle) is controlling more and more of the territory.

Others are equally clear that being an Anglican Christian now, in just as natural and faithful and historically justified a way, is to offer a hospitable place for a wide variety of people engaged in spiritual exploration. We have never been bound to confessional statements in the way other churches have; we have a special relationship with the cultural life of our country, and we must not fall out of step with this if we are not to become absurd and incredible. We coax people towards a spiritual life that draws on the most sensitive and creative dimensions of what is natural to them, and try to encapsulate that in appropriate liturgies.

But meanwhile, there is a third Church of England, depicted in the news media. This is a soap opera. Its life is about short-term conflicts, blazing rows in the pub, so to speak, mysterious plots and unfathomable motivations. It is both ridiculous and fascinating. As with soap operas, we, the public, know that real people don't actually live like that, but we relish the drama and become fond of the regular cast of unlikely characters, with, in this case, their extraordinary titles and bizarre costumes. And for both actors and audience, the boundary between reality and melodramatic fantasy can get rather blurred at times, as if real human life were after all the jumble of unexamined passions, self-pity and self-advertisement that the drama takes for granted.

And there is yet another Church of England, quite hard to pin down but a serious presence: in a nebulous sense, this is a body which provides a spiritual hinterland for national life, an aura of seriousness, a scent of eternity. It may be in the form of that national religion which surfaces at times of national trauma; it is still for many people connected with the monarchy. But lately we have seen another version as well: it is surprising to see how liberal intellectuals in Britain so often express similar yearnings for a national spiritual hinterland. And the result is that when the Church shows signs of believing and acting upon things that do not derive from, or are at odds with, a progressive consensus, much anger and disappointment is voiced (our discussions not only sexuality but about embryo research touch this very closely). The Church is failing us; it is not truly a Church of the people.

Forgetting the soap opera for a moment, which mostly has only a virtual reality, the others live in a world of much anxiety. I now have a really remarkable collection of letters which say, 'Every Christian I speak to, and most people I know outside the Church, agree that...' - whatever view it is that the writer holds. And these views are dramatically incompatible. It's hard to avoid concluding that most of us speak and listen mostly to those who share our world, and assume it is indeed the natural one to belong to. But the anxiety comes at this point. If this is so natural, and if everyone I talk with agrees, how is it that this picture of the Church, of holy life, of effective mission, isn't 'winning'? Because decisions are being taken by those who don't find obvious what we find obvious. What has gone wrong? We ought to be the majority but apparently we aren't - or if we are, we are being defrauded of our rights. We end up with a situation where, as I have sometimes said before, everyone believes they are a persecuted minority.

And this is not a situation that encourages easy and honest communication. It is a situation that cries out for scapegoats. It encourages indirect communication - talking to third parties, to the media, to anyone except the actual people who represent that different way of being the Church of England which seems so incomprehensible to us. And the effect is so often of different churches, with strong and serious theologies and a high degree of spiritual integrity, or at least with a case to be heard, failing to relate except at a level of destructive and often angry bewilderment and denial; which, incidentally, does wonders for the soap opera market.

Is there a way of beginning to think around all this? I don't imagine we shall change our habits overnight, or come to agreements where there were none - though I hope we can do something rather urgently about the widespread assumption that my pain or our pain is automatically more real and serious than 'theirs' or 'yours'. There is no possible reconciliation while we are stuck in this mindset. But perhaps we can at least step back sufficiently to ask not so much what makes us one Church of England, but what makes us a Church at all. If we can answer that a little better, maybe we shall have something to say about whether there is a Church of England.

What makes a Church is the call of Jesus Christ, and our freedom and ability, helped by grace, to recognise that call in each other. The first reality is God's action summoning us together as a people - in the words of Jesus, which make it clear that we can belong to God's people if we trust what Jesus says about God and does in God's name, and in the death and resurrection of Jesus, which actively remove the barriers we set up by our sin to communion with God. To announce all this is to announce God's invitation. To accept the invitation, with all it carries of acknowledging what Jesus has done, is to be taken into Christ's living Body, finding there a company of unlikely people who have received and answered the same invitation. The Church's life develops as we slowly and clumsily start working on the ways we recognise each other as called by the same God and Saviour. Let me repeat that: working on the ways we recognise each other as called by the same God and Saviour. Our language, our doctrine, our worship all seek to be effective assurances that we are stepping to the same dance. At the centre of everything, the Scriptures provide the first test of that unity and coherence, to which all else is brought to be judged; then there are the basic identifying acts of the community which tell us that the life of the Risen Jesus is promised if we once let go of the self-protection we cling to (baptism) and that it is to be celebrated and deepened as we literally respond to the invitation of the Risen Jesus at his table (Holy Communion).

That's the Church. It is what happens when the call of Jesus is definitively heard. Some time ago, in the course of a conversation with the Archbishop of Sydney, we found we agreed wholeheartedly - pause for effect - we agreed wholeheartedly that the life of the church should be a matter of verbs before it's a matter of nouns - and that those verbs have God as their subject. God calls, God makes a difference of such a kind that a community appears, bound to and in his Son by the Spirit's power. For the moment, never mind the structures and the precise assurances as to what we agree about. What matters at first is that we are at one in recognising that we are called and who has called us.

If that's where the heart of the Church is, then we might quite properly expect that it won't always look the same or feel the same across the human world. We rightly say that we all need certain structures, in particular a ministry that is recognisable more than locally and that represents our continuity, as a focal part of the work involved in staying recognisable to each other. We hold to Scripture and sacraments as the essential common language God has given. And then?

Well then, I suspect, it's a lot more chaotic than we have usually assumed. We used to, in Wales, talk about the 'mixed economy' Church - that is, one which is learning how to cope with diverse forms and rhythms of worshipping life. Tearing up the rule book and trying to replace the parochial system is a recipe for disaster and wasted energy. In all kinds of places, the parochial system is working remarkably. It's just that we are increasingly aware of the contexts where it simply isn't capable of making an impact, where something has to grow out of it or alongside it, not as a rival (why do we cast so much of our Christian life in terms of competition?) but as an attempt to answer questions that the parish system was never meant to answer.

At present, we stand at a watershed in the life of the Church of England - not primarily because of the controversies that have been racking us (much as they matter, much as they hurt), but because we have to ask whether we are capable of moving towards a more 'mixed economy' - recognising church where it appears and having the willingness and the skill to work with it. Mission, it's been said, is finding out what God is doing and joining in. And at present there is actually an extraordinary amount going on in terms of the creation of new styles of church life. We can call it church planting, 'new ways of being church' or various other things; but the point is that more and more patterns of worship and shared life are appearing on the edge of our mainstream life that cry out for our support, understanding and nurture if they are not to get isolated and unaccountable. These may vary from the classic church plant model - a new congregation generated by an older one - to the Thursday night meeting for young people once a fortnight, the Sunday evening Songs of Praise in the pub, the irregular but persistent networking with the people you met at Greenbelt or Spring Harvest, the mums and toddlers event on Tuesday morning or the big school Eucharist once a term which is the only contact many parents and friends will have with real worshipping life. All of these are church in the sense that they are what happens when the invitation of Jesus is received and people recognise it in each other.

Can we live with this and make it work? This is where the unexpected growth happens, where the unlikely contacts are often made; where the Church is renewed (as it so often is) from the edges, not the centre. We need a positive willingness to see and understand all this - and to find the patterns and rhythms and means of communication that will let everyone share the benefits. That's to say we need ordained leadership which is capable of making and servicing connections between lots of different styles of 'church' - leadership which is therefore very clear about theological priorities, not protective of its status, skilled in listening and in interpreting what may seem very different language groups to each other. That's why, incidentally, when I've been asked about my priorities as Archbishop, I have regularly mentioned both the encouragement of new styles of church life and the need for theological education. And all this needs to be firmly in our sights as we discuss the proposals around ministerial education before us at this Synod.

I have to say that in spite of everything it is a moment of great promise. The Church Commissioners are encouraging us all to be more not less adventurous in planning for growth; Bishop Graham Cray's working party on this issue (New styles of Being Church) is about to report; the Pastoral Measure Review is looking towards greater flexibility in accommodating new churches that don't fit the parochial model; and my personal hope and plan is that the next stage in the work associated with the mission initiatives that have gone forward under the name of Springboard in the last decade will involve fuller co-ordination and resourcing for these new developments. Perhaps if there is a Church of England after all, it appears in the energy and commitment with which so many are discovering all this. Such people are usually very hard to stereotype within our conventional categories (let alone the cast-list of the soap opera); they can be cavalier about denominational boundaries, happily opportunist about who they co-operate with. But what emerges is authentically rooted in the central vision of a church both faithful to God and open to the community.

And it is sustained and made possible, of course, by so much that we hardly notice, the ordinary life of the Church of England as it is - that real Church of England which is visible where the parish priest chairs the school governors in the estate, sits with the asylum seeker to help them complete an official form, negotiates the grant that will allow the crypt to be developed for a drop-in centre, organises the distribution of goods from a farmers' market or the rota of lifts for a pensioner to get to church and shops; and where he or she is equipping their people to do all this and more. This Church exists all right, and you all know where it can be found. The debate on the report 'Called to Act Justly', triggered by the Stephen Lawrence case, illustrates another vital element of this 'routine' work (not routine enough, of course, in some places); the work of being a place where fundamental issues around the health of our society, around the wounds inflicted by racial vio!
lence and hatred for instance, can be addressed with seriousness and without self-justifying slogans.

So there are at least two Churches of England in addition to the ones I began with. There is the growing edge, the abundance of new things happening, with the new challenges about worship and ministry they bring. And there is the so-called routine, the ordinary life of the parish, where people are unobtrusively introduced to Jesus Christ daily. And these two are really one. Here we are looking at a Church with deep roots, both human and theological, getting on with the prosaic business (always so hard) without posturing, free enough from anxiety to be grateful for new things happening, even if they are not easily digestible, doing those basic and small things which are also earth-changing - reading the Bible, bringing people to baptism, celebrating the Lord's Supper. And what gives this Church its solidity, I suggest, is that it knows itself to exist because of God in Christ - not as a cultural fact, not as a society of militants with a human programme but as a community living in the space God has cleared; sometimes unclear about what exactly should be said about this, sometimes - I'm not sure what should exactly be said about this - deeply bewildered about the people who seem to be sharing this space with us, always at a loss as to how we should plan for future security, but confident because it was not our power or initiative that cut through the brambles and made a place to live.

This doesn't solve problems (theology doesn't, much). I hope, though, that it gives us something to remember when the various Churches of England jostle so noisily that we wonder where our unity is. If we believe in God's Church, two things are more likely to happen. We shall find more courage to explore new styles of Church life and the patterns and protocols we need to keep communication going with and between them. And we shall be freer to communicate with each other. The various 'Churches' I've described so often talk to each other, as I've said, through megaphones, through all kinds of indirect means. How do we recover the 'boldness', the parresia St Paul speaks of in our relation with God, as part of our relation with each other? It's been said often enough in recent weeks that we have too often been seen as a community that rewards dishonesty or concealment. It's been said also that some are intimidated in raising critical questions for fear of being stigmatised as fundamentalist and bigoted. These levels of fear and mistrust are cause for grief and repentance. If all the pain of these last weeks can in some way prompt us to see more clearly what we do to each other, why we threaten each other so, we shall have grown a little - grown a little into the space God has made, the new and living way. And I hope that Synod can lift its eyes for a moment from the traumas of recent weeks and days - not to pretend or forget, but to be newly aware of what God is already doing in our Church. If we can see that too a bit more clearly, we shall not feel paralysed. We shall know gratefully that there is indeed a Church, because of God, not because of us. And if that is so, we are free to follow where he has led, to grow and to celebrate.

Monday, July 14, 2003

What to concede and What to hold firm in debates on homosexuality.

An initial attempt at clarification for those who claim to be biblically-based.

First, what should be conceded in order to begin the conversation and controversy at a reasonable starting point:

  1. That there are some persons within society who feel a deep attraction towards persons of the same sex.

  2. That homosexuality and pederasty are not necessarily linked.

  3. That the Lesbigay movement is now a powerful lobby in western countries and is unlikely to go away.

  4. That many public institutions and governments have accepted the general argument that “Gays” and “Lesbians” are permanently so constituted, that it is OK for them to be so, and that civil law must make provision for partnerships between same-sex couples, based on the analogy of contract law relating to marriage.

  5. That the whole drift and ethos of modern human rights is towards the recognition of any minority which makes serious claims and which does not threaten the general peace of society.

  6. That it is virtually inevitable that a National Church in Europe or a large, liberal USA/Canadian/Australian denomination will be affected by the ethos of human rights and by the decisions of State and big business in terms of giving sooner or later full rights to same-sex couples.

  7. That the existence of a powerful divorce culture in the West, and the conducting of marriages of divorcees in churches, have profoundly weakened the moral position of the Church in her teaching and defence of both chastity and holy matrimony.

  8. That the widespread cohabiting of heterosexual couples, and the performing of marriage service for some of them by the churches without any discipline involved, have also profoundly weakened the moral position of the Church in her teaching and defence of chastity and holy matrimony.

  9. That the widespread availability and use of contraceptive means and methods have profoundly changed the whole matter of sexual relations inside and outside of marriage.

To concede all this is to concede much and it is virtually to admit that in significant areas of modern western life the Lesbigay movement is already successful or will be so within a few years. But it is not to concede everything!

Second, what propositions should be firmly held and NOT be conceded at all.

  1. That God created man as male and female, and that male and female are in various orderly ways orientated towards and made for each other.

  2. That holy matrimony is the God-ordained form of permanent union between two persons, one male and one female.

  3. That a primary purpose of marriage is procreation. A marriage where procreation is possible and deliberately ruled out is not a genuine marriage.

  4. That chastity is not an ideal but a standard for all to abide by.

  5. That genuine friendships between persons of the same sex are good if governed by chastity.

  6. That Jesus Christ has an authoritative message about marriage, sexual relations, adultery, fornication and homosexual practice and the church is to follow the same.

  7. That the Bible does condemn not only active homosexual practice but also “faithful” same-sex partnerships.

  8. That all forms of active homosexuality are sinful, just as are many forms of heterosexual activities.

  9. That God does not make any person with a permanent homosexual orientation from birth, though such may possibly be gained through nurture, education and other factors.

  10. That the prevention of the acceptance of same-sex blessings by the Church will only be achieved if this prohibition is related to a positive doctrine and practice of chastity, and of holy matrimony, where remarriage after divorce is rare not normal, and where contraceptive practice is minimally encouraged and used.

To conclude: this is a discussion starter offered to ordinary clergy and laity in order to help them face the debate and questions honestly and positively.

July 14th 2003
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)