Arguments over ordination of practising homosexuals and ‘gay marriage’

• 2003: What does the Bible say about homosexuality? AUSTRALIA: I respond to quotations in your article (25/6) in which Peter Jensen seems to be very sure what the Bible says about homosexuality. Other church leaders interpret the scripture differently; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has publicly stated: "In regard to committed homosexual couples, the position of the Bible is not crystal clear."
   The most commonly quoted scriptural references in this regard are the story of Sodom (Genesis 19: 1-11); 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; and Romans 1: 18-32.
   The story of Sodom is a story about homosexual rape and cannot be used to condemn all homosexuality any more than a story about heterosexual rape can be used to condemn all heterosexuality. A similar argument applies to 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10, which refer to homosexual prostitution.
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   The two texts from Leviticus are part of the Old Testament holiness code, which also forbids eating pork (11:7), having sex during menstruation (18:19), clothing made from more than one fabric (19:19), and haircuts (19:27). This code was superseded by the "new covenant" sealed by Christ's death and resurrection. Hence the laws about homosexuality no longer apply any more than laws about eating pork and haircuts.
   Romans 1: 18-32 condemns a homosexuality that develops after someone rejects the true God and hence condemns a particular form of homosexual act, probably in relation to pagan ritual.
   Hence many consider that the Bible condemns such things as homosexual rape and prostitution, and does not condemn union within committed homosexual relationships. -- Dr Neil Simmons, Tarragindi, Qld

   Some see the "marginalisation" of the Anglican Church in contemporary society as a good reason to change its ways.
   But the church is not a kind of club that regularly needs to adapt its constitution to take account of changing times in order to retain its members and attract new ones.
   The church's constitution, the Bible, is made of stern stuff; it is not subject to the whims of those who wish to tear out a few pages so they can pursue a particular lifestyle with a placated conscience.
   Old and New Testament passages (eg, Genesis 19: 4-10, Jude 7, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1: 26-27) unambiguously condemn homosexual activity. Nor did St Paul leave room for misinterpretation, describing homosexual relations as: "unnatural", "shameless", "dishonourable".
   Stripping away the Bible's moral power is one way of trying to escape an abundantly clear message. If the church itself were to tamper with the, for some, unpalatable parts, it would be time to pack up and join the club scene. -- Henk Verhoeven, Beacon Hill, NSW

   In response to your article "Zealots choke 'breath of opinion' " (25/6), if one wishes to deeply follow a life in the church, the secular arena or some sporting endeavour, success is determined by our capacity to be "zealot like" according to the guidelines that have been put in place. Zealots are described in the dictionary as having fanatical viewpoints.
   "Things" change as quickly as the wind does, so to achieve the required "fanaticism", a certain discipline is needed and that could mean passing up what the "breath of opinion" may desire.
   Where the word of God is concerned, all is revealed, no more change takes place -- just a deeper appreciation of the Word. This, of course, is attained by a zealot-like belief in the fantastic and not in the breath of an opinion.
   I would ask him who states he is openly gay to explain the following, when Yahweh speaks to Moses regarding rules for conjugal relationships: "You must not lie with a man as with a woman. This is a hateful thing" (Leviticus, 18:22). And again when he speaks to Moses about offences against the family: "The man who lies with a man in the same way as with a woman: they have done a hateful thing together; they must die, their blood shall be on their own heads" (Leviticus, 20:13).
   The acceptance that one may have homosexual tendencies is full of merit but when this is activated into "a lying together as with a woman" credibility is lost.
   There was no Biblical law enforcing slavery, so there is no literal view to be taken into consideration. Slavery was an outcome of man's will to dominate and subjugate another. -- Adrian Pervan, Thornbury, Vic.
[COMMENT: Much material in the above letters is erroneous. The last two sentences are in error. Slavery was approved in the Bible, often disguised in English translations by using the word "servant" instead of "slave." Hebrew Scriptures: Taking foreign slaves was approved, they are recorded working for important biblical figures, and Israelites themselves could be enslaved. For example, see Genesis 24:34 (in new translations!), Deuteronomy 12:12, 18; 13:5, 10; 15:12-18; 16:11; 20:10; and Jeremiah 2:14. Christian Scriptures tell slaves to obey their masters, and masters to be kind to their slaves: Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22 - 4:1; 1 Timothy 6:1 onwards; and 1 Peter 2:18. The Epistle to Philemon is a note carried back by a runaway slave Onesimus, whom Paul had converted to Christianity, to his master, Philemon. It is a warm recommendation to receive him not as a slave but as a brother (verse 16), as noted by John L. McKenzie (1968, p 825 b). It was probably a broad hint to set him free, but it did not say that slavery was against the will of God. In other words, it condoned slavery. (Religion Clarity Campaign lacked time to answer each supposed error above, which was for the best. Gradually the Religion Clarity Campaign is learning that even the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, with their clear directions for a married clergy, are "late additions" that probably weren't written by St Paul.) COMMENT ENDS]

   With reference to Paul Knobel's letter (27/6): I have always been led to believe that Jesus spoke in the Aramaic language, so how come he "uses the Greek word agapao"? -- Dr Stuart Partis, Kingston Park, SA
   [COMMENT: Probably because the earliest manuscripts we have are in koine Greek! And, possibly, Palestine having come into the Greek-speaking orbit since the conquests of Alexander the Great (died BC 323) and his Macedonian generals, it is possible that much everyday speech in Palestine was in some form of Greek, just as it is probable that Aramaic was also used a lot. Most Westerners probably don't know, but many elements of Greek culture persisted there until after the Muslim colonisations in the 600s. COMMENT ENDS.]

-- The Weekend Australian, "Who's who: chapter and verse," various letters, June 28-29, 2003, p 16

• Anglicans meet amid row over gay clergy. LONDON: The Church of England is meeting in York for a General Synod. This will be first synod presided over by Dr Rowan Williams, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and titular leader [if the Queen is overlooked?] of the world's 70 million in the Anglican communion. The synod will be the first since a row over homosexuality in the Church erupted around the world. In May the Canadian diocese of New Westminster broke ranks by sanctioning same-sex unions, to the dismay of Dr Williams, who said the move would create inevitable tension and division. Within days, Episcopalians in New Hampshire, U.S.A., elected their Church's first openly "gay" bishop, father-of-two Gene Robinson, who left his wife to join his "gay" partner after acknowledging his homosexuality. [Sydney Anglican leaders later said that there had been two years between his divorce and meeting his "gay partner."] Then in Britain, the Church of England announced the appointment of an openly "gay" clergyman, Jeffrey John, as assistant Bishop of Reading (pron. Redding) in the diocese of Oxford. Last Sunday, Dr John said he would not take up the post for fear of damaging the unity of the Church. Anglicans in Nigeria have severed ties with New Westminster and New Hampshire, describing the US appointment as a satanic attack on God's Church. Officially, sexual ethics are not up for discussion at the synod, which will open today and run until next Tuesday. -- The West Australian, "Anglicans meet amid row over gay clergy," Reuters, Thu Jul 10 03, p 28
[COMMENT: The U.S. cleric who was reported (somewhat incorrectly, it seems) to have left his wife to join his "gay" partner has, perhaps, not heeded Matthew's Gospel 19:3-9, in which Jesus states it is not lawful for a man to put away his wife, except for fornication of hers. He could also read and heed 1 Corinthians 7:2, which recommends that to prevent sexual immorality, every man ought to have his own wife, and every woman her own husband. And, 1 Corinthians 7:10 and 11 say that a wife should not be put apart from her husband, and a husband should not leave his wife. COMMENT ENDS]

• Uniting Church weighs gay clergy. MELBOURNE (Victoria) Australia: The Uniting Church, Australia's third largest denomination, may next week become the first mainstream Church to allow practising homosexuals to be ordained. After a decade of debate, the Church's triennial assembly is expect to approve a proposal that allows presbyteries -- regional groupings of churches -- to decide such ordinations case by case. Assembly general-secretary Terence Corkin said there were two mutually exclusive belief systems within the Church. One advocates celibacy outside marriage; the other approves faithful "gay" relationships. The Uniting Church had been formed in 1977 by a merger of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches. -- The West Australian, "Church weighs gay clergy," The Age, Sat Jul 12 03, p 7
• Church warned of split on gay priests proposal. MELBOURNE: The Uniting Church appears set to allow practising homosexuals to be ordained as ministers, amid warnings of a major split. Members failed to reach consensus on a proposal that would allow individual presbyteries to decide ordinations case by case, so it will go to a vote. Mary Hawkes, a spokeswoman for the Evangelical Members within the Church predicted that there would be a mass exodus if the proposal was successful today. -- The West Australian, "Church warned of split on gay priests proposal," Thu Jul 17 03, p 4
• What Does the Word of God, the Holy Bible, teach about Homosexuality? SYDNEY (New South Wales) Australia: It is a disturbing fact of the modernist Church leaders that they are obsessed with homosexuality and will constantly promote it, even if it divides the Church. Therefore they can support the ordination of practising homosexuals and lesbians and even endorse the appointment of homosexuals as Bishops! Homosexuals can now be ordained as Ministers of the Uniting Church because of the decision by the majority of delegates at the Uniting Church's National Assembly in Melbourne (July 2003). However, the pro homosexual lobby are not really impressed with the clear teaching of the Holy Bible because they do not believe it is the inspired Word of God, but a collection of myths. Yet the Holy Bible, for 2,000 years, has been the rule for faith and practice for the Christian Church. The Uniting Church National Assembly went one step further by agreeing sexuality would not be a ban to ordination as a Minister -- so you can be a homosexual, lesbian, bi sexual or transsexual Minister.   . . . When these practising homosexuals are nominated by their Church to be ordained as a Minister, or appointed as a Bishop, it is another example of the brazen rejection of the authority of the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible lays down the clear requirements for a Deacon or a Bishop in 1 Timothy 3:1-3 and Titus 1: 6-7.  . . . [The article also gives Bible quotations from the Old Testament, and plus other quotes from the New Testament, such as Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Peter 2:1-11, and Jude verse 7 against approval of practising homosexuality. (Original available on request.) The Rev Mr Nile has protested by withdrawing from being a minister of the Uniting Church.] -- Rev Fred Nile, MLC; "What Does the Word of God, the Holy Bible, teach about Homosexuality?" by e-mail Jul 29 03
• "Sodomites" in Old Testament translations are really "temple prostitutes" of either sex! PERTH: [INTRO: A response e-mailed next day to the Rev Fred Nile recommended changes to his paper, because much of the traditional Scripture usage in it was incorrect. The writer supported his opposition to the Churches favouring homosexuality, but pointed out that bad translations of previous centuries (reprinted even after the errors were pointed out by scholars) had made some of the arguments liable to be turned back on him. INTRO ENDS] He wrote on Page 2:
   "Sodomites were prohibited from entering the Congregation of the Lord (Deut 23:17)."
   In the first place, the verse does not convey any hint of "Congregation of the Lord," but refers to "sons of Israel" and "daughters of Israel," which may be a fine distinction, but might not be missed by critics.  . . .
   In the New Jerusalem Bible (which [in its R.C. version] re-numbers the verse as 18) the word formerly translated there as "whore" and "sodomite/whoremonger" is "sacred prostitute," both for the sons and daughters of Israel. In the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures the word for both sexes is "temple prostitute." [NOTE: The same term, covering both sexes, is also used in Good News Bible: Today's English Version of 1966/1976, p 194. NOTE ENDS]
   Mr Nile also wrote:
   "This is the reason homosexuals are described in the Bible as guilty of sodomy and known as 'sodomites'."
   The first problem is that the word "sodomy" does not appear to be a Bible word. Cruden's [Concordance] does not list it. And, as pointed out above, although the word "sodomite" was a handy term for difficult words, and was used by the old-time "translators" of the Scriptures, the original Scripture languages used other terms.
[COMMENT: Nearly every use of "sodomite" in Cruden's and in the Anglican King James and Catholic Douay Bibles Old Testament texts has been superseded in modern inter-Church translations with words meaning sacred or temple prostitute. The new translations' examples discovered so far by the writer are: Deuteronomy 23:17, 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46, and 2 Kings 23:7. However, note that in the New Testament, where one old translation used "sodomite" at 1 Corinthians 6:9, the original Greek does mean "(male) liers with males". COMMENT ENDS]
   The comment after the text on page 3 is not correct, . . . .
   "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28). This commandment would certainly apply to a man lusting after another man.
[COMMENT: Well, people on both sides of the argument can find many books saying that "adultery" is generally defined as two-gender, and will refute the above claim. COMMENT ENDS]
  . . .
   Most of the paper is excellent, but some of the material I recommend deleting could be replaced with a general argument that Jesus and the Apostles called people to a self-sacrificing God-controlled way of life, to worship God and to give service to help others, and not to concentrate too much on gratifying themselves.  . . .
   I have written a paper, at , in which on page 2 is the New Testament's ideal of marriage, including generosity in the use of the marriage act, . . . (1 Corinthians 7:2, 5, 9) . -- Religion Clarity Campaign activist (Original available on request), e-mailed Jul 30 03 [COMMENT: A response came via the Post Office months later. COMMENT ENDS] E-mail's date: Jul 30 03
• Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons. VATICAN CITY: Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts "as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered". This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.   . . . Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involving a grave lack of respect for human dignity, does nothing to alter this inadequacy.   . . . The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself. The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication. -- Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 3, 2003, Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions, Martyrs. Joseph Card. Ratzinger, Prefect; Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Titular Archbishop of Sila, Secretary; CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, roman _curia/ congregations/ cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual -unions _en.html; Date of public release does not seem to be either of the above-mentioned dates, but actually July 31 2003.
• Vatican calls on lawmakers to oppose 'immoral' same-sex unions. VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Amid increasing worldwide initiatives to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, the Vatican called on lawmakers to offer "clear and emphatic opposition" to such measures, which it said were contrary to human nature and ultimately harmful to society. In a 12-page document released July 31, the Vatican expressed particular alarm at moves to allow gay couples to adopt children, which it said would be a form of "violence" against children and "gravely immoral."  . . . It instructed Catholic politicians that they were morally bound to oppose such "gravely unjust laws" and said all public servants had the right to conscientious objection if they were asked to apply them. -- Catholic News Service , "Vatican calls on lawmakers to oppose 'immoral' same-sex unions," 20030731.htm , by John Norton, 1060 words, Jul-31-2003
• US Episcopalians 62 to 45 for homosexual practice; Sydney bishops apologise. PERTH: The Anglican Communion world-wide has been surprised by the confirmation of the election of the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church of the United State [sic] of America. The Revd Canon Gene Robinson's June election as Bishop of New Hampshire was ratified by the Episcopalian House of Bishops in Minneapolis on August 6 by 62 votes to 45. . . . Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the bishops of Sydney have issued a public apology for circulating erroneous information about Canon Robinson. In June, Archbishop Jensen had publicly accused Canon Robinson of leaving his wife and two children to pursue a homosexual relationship, when in fact the marriage had been dissolved amicably two years before he met his partner, Mark Andrew. . . . The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, swiftly called an emergency meeting of all 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion in London in mid-October. (etc., etc.) -- The Anglican Messenger, Perth, W. Australia, "United States Anglicans elect gay bishop," Sep 2003, p 1
• Anti-homosexual scriptures aren't: Anglican Primate. BOYUP BROOK, W. Australia: In the Boyup Brook Town Hall on Saturday, August 2, about 65 people attended an Anglican Blackwood Ministry Area gathering. Archbishop Peter Carnley [of Perth, Anglican Primate of Australia], when asked about the issue of homosexuality, "quoted the three most common texts used to condemn homosexuals. He explained that they refer in each case to heterosexuals behaving in a deviant way. As a point of interest, he told us that homosexuality as a concept only came into being in the nineteenth century. If as many scientists now believe, homosexuality is genetic, then the issues rising from the present debate need to be lovingly considered. Written material will be available shortly on this subject.  . . ." -- The Anglican Messenger, "The Litmus test is love," "Focus on Bunbury" section compiled by David McKelvie, Sep 2003, p 14.
[COMMENT: Well, how do we explain St Paul saying that to avoid sexual sin, every person ought to be married? And that it was better to be married than burnt (1 Corinthians 7:2, 5, 9)? However, see other sections for the problems of scripture forgeries and mistranslations (leaving aside misinterpretations!). Have all the Christian Churches been wrong for about 2000 years? COMMENT ENDS.]
Sep 03
• Insecure people rush to defend orthodoxy; Dean John Shepherd's idiosyncratic and distorted theology. PERTH, W. Australia: Letters to the Editor: Revd Ted Witham writes: An epidemic of insecurity has people rushing to defend the faith with ever more shrill voices ... in the July and August issues of the Messenger and around the global church.  . . . [They] may even threaten schism -- and blame it on ... opponents . . . I can say that I don't know for sure whether Jesus literally walked on water or whether I should take this symbolically . . .
   Rev Paul Gill, Bicton, writes: Reading the August edition of the Anglican Messenger ... Dean John Shepherd's latest offering under "St George's Matters", and his advertisement: "Heretics Anonymous". One gets very fed up with senior Anglican clerics publicising theological views that are grossly inconsistent with the Christian faith as spelt out in the Scriptures, Creeds, and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.  ... are there others in the Diocese who are uneasy about the nature of the Dean's repeated public utterances? If there are I would like to hear from them. I would also like to challenge him to a series of public theological disputations on some of the basic beliefs of Christianity. -- The Anglican Messenger, "Bullying the people of God," and "A Winter of Discontent" letters, Sep 2003, p 17
   [COMMENT: The Rev Mr Witham ought to be very comfortable with, and the Rev Mr Gill uncomfortable with, the public disputations seeming to call into question many of the basic beliefs, advertised on the following page. Is there any sign that the bulk of the clergy have awoken to the fraudulent altering of scripture, and the misconceptions that have found and even fought their way into the Creeds and beliefs of various religions? COMMENT ENDS.]
Sep 03
• Miracles, magic, or metaphors? Resuscitation or Resurrection? PERTH: A series of seminars at (Anglican) St Mary's Parish Hall, South Perth, Tuesdays in September 2003, 7.45 - 9pm: Sep 9: Atonement -- born or die? Mthr Christine Simes (Rector, City Beach). Sep 16: Virgin Birth -- gynaecology or theology? Dr David Wood (Rector, Joondalup). Sep 23: Miracles, magic or metaphors? Dr John Shepherd (Dean of Perth). Sep 30: Resuscitation or Resurrection? Dr Peter Carnley (Archbishop of Perth). -- The Anglican Messenger, "Credible Christianity" advertisement, Sep 2003, p 18
• Catholic Bishop Shannon opposed Vietnam war and Church's rules against contraception. MINNEAPOLIS, USA: Liberal views on social issues got Catholic bishop James Patrick Shannon into trouble in the 1960s. He was born at St Paul, Minnesota, 1921, and died at Minneapolis, August 2003.  . . . His criticism of U.S. involvement in Vietnam brought reprimands from Rome as wall as from colleagues in the US, who said he should adhere to the stance approved by the College of Cardinals. He was appointed to moderate a television documentary in 1968, covering questions such as marriage for clergymen and the ordination of women. That year Shannon had warned that he could not uphold the Pope's teaching on family matters. He was labelled a heretic for opposing Humanae Vitae (July 25 1968) which opposed artificial birth control. He resigned from the position of auxiliary bishop of St Paul and Minneapolis in 1968, believing he was breaking his vow of obedience. Rome and others tried to persuade him to take a post in South America. In late 1968 he married Ruth Wilkinson. He returned to law school at the age of 49, remaining a practising Catholic, and worked as executive director of several corporate foundations, retiring in 1988. His book Reluctant Dissenter 1999 described his clashes with colleagues such as Cardinal James McIntyre of Los Angeles. – based on The West Australian, "Bishop who defied the Vatican," from Washington Post, Sep 19 03 p 51
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