What the Archbishop of Westminster really said…

The top news story on several UK sites on Christmas morning ran as follows: the Archbishop of Westminster, knowing that his midnight Christmas mass homily would be widely reported, ¬†had used the opportunity given to him to attack the government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage. Christian comment on (those bits that I see of) FB and Twitter was highly critical, suggesting that – even if he happened to be right about equal marriage, which most people who took the trouble to comment seemed to think he wasn’t – to make this the central message of Christmas was totally inappropriate. All this was rather predictable; also rather predictable was the fact that the media reports were at least highly misleading, if not actually inaccurate, and...

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Gay relationships in the Bible?

I have been reading the new edition of Jeffrey John’s book, now titled¬†Permanent, Faithful, Stable, Christian Same-sex Marriage,in preparation for writing a couple of pieces on human sexuality. In the course of his discussion, Canon John makes brief reference to the miracle of the healing of the Centurion’s servant in Lk. 7:1-10 // Mt. 8:5-13, and draws on Theissen and others to suggest that ‘[a]ny Jew … would almost certainly have assumed they were gay lovers.’ (p. 14) On this basis, and because ‘the possibility that the relationship was homosexual would not have escaped Jesus, Matthew or Luke’ (15), Canon John argues that ‘it is a real question whether we are intended to see Jesus deliberately including a gay...

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Catholic Bishops, Baptist pastors, and same-sex marriage

It seems fairly likely that we in Scotland will see the extension of marriage to same-sex couples before the rest of the UK, probably in the next 2-3 years. The government has proposed this, and a consultation on the proposal has just closed. How should a Christian commentator respond to this idea? The theology here is actually quite interesting, if we can catch enough breath to step back from the polemics. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has gone on the offensive, suggesting that same-sex marriage is, roughly, a logical impossibility. Oddly enough, supporters of the government proposal have found this suggestion both offensive and unhappy, but it was both predictable and inevitable to anyone who understands Roman Catholic theology....

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‘Biblical’ family life

(I was preaching in our university chapel yesterday, where we didn’t make much of the celebration of Mothering Sunday, but the fact that it was that day prompted me to finish off this post, which I have had sitting around in draft since mid-January.) I read something today – it doesn’t matter what; it was a denominational statement from overseas, and so not very relevant – that made a fairly familiar gesture demanding support for ‘Biblical’ patterns of family life which, in this case, included support for the vocation of motherhood and a resistance to cultural pressures that encouraged mothers to go out to work, an encouragement not to limit numbers of children borne within the nuclear family, and a claim that, within the...

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An exegetical puzzle in Eph. 5

I have been looking again at Yoder’s Politics of Jesus in preparation for teaching; he writes a chapter on ‘revolutionary submission,’ picking up on the Haustafeln of Eph. 5:21ff., Col. 3:18ff., 1Pet. 2:13ff., &c. He gives cogent reasons for reading these texts as collisions between the radically liberating ethic of Jesus and the patriarchal assumptions of the culture, and so decries both an unthinking assertion of gender equivalence that simply ignores the texts, and a wooden reading that extracts the text from its social context as some timeless normative principle that will guide modern Western egalitarian and nuclear marriages just as effectively as it did the older ones. Yoder’s point was not particularly exegetical, but it, and...

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