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A Response to Bishop John Inge's Advocacy for Same-Sex Marriage

A Response to Bishop John Inge's Advocacy for Same-Sex Marriage

By Rollin Grams
January 13, 2023

The bishop of Worcester in England has articulated his arguments in favour of same-sex marriage, anticipating a vote on the matter in February, 2023 in the Church of England. I have quoted large segments of his open letter to his diocese, and his full letter can be read online.[1] The average lay person may be impressed by the length of this letter or by its appearance of careful reasoning, and so I would like to correct that impression by engaging with his arguments one by one. I take the opposite view of John Inge, but the reader is encouraged to consider the arguments themselves.

In what follows, I first quote Inge, sometimes indicating that I have left out some of his letter in the interest of space. I do not believe that I have truncated any of his arguments in so doing. My responses are placed in italics. Additionally, I have added some of my own comments within Inge's words and placed these in square brackets and in blue font within his text. On just a few occasions, I have underlined some of Inge's words in yellow to draw special attention to them.

In my responses, I have given names to the various fallacies and errors in Inge's argument, offered a definition of them in quotes and italics, and then written a further explanation. I find the extent of Inge's fallacious and erroneous reasoning astounding, to the point that I recommend this engagement to students as an exercise in how not to interpret and use Scripture and how not to do theology.

Quotations from and Responses to John Inge's Arguments in Favour of Same-Sex Marriage

.... There were protests when, in 1901, the 'heretic' Gore was nominated for the see of Worcester. His offence? To suggest that not all the Old Testament -- the Genesis creation accounts, the stories of Jonah and Job, for example -- are literal historical accounts.

My Response:
The 'Once, Therefore Always' Fallacy: 'People thought this or that about one thing, and they were wrong, so they must be wrong about other things.'
The answer to this obvious error is to suggest that we stay on topic and discuss the issue at hand.

Most Christians would now take for granted the insights for which Gore fought and would consider those who hold to creationism a gift to atheists and vocal agnostics like Richard Dawkins. Those of us who accept the theory of evolution and still hold to the scriptures as being the inspired Word of God 'containing all things necessary unto salvation', find in the passages in question truth at least as profound as literal historical fact.

.... Though, as yet, there is no scientific certainty about what factors determine sexual orientation, there is general consensus that it is not a choice. There is even stronger consensus that 'sexual orientation change efforts' (SOCE), sometimes called 'conversion therapies' for homosexual orientation are both ineffective and harmful.

My Response:
The Consensus Fallacy: 'Because some have formed a consensus, this is what we should now believe.'
The Echo Chamber Error: 'Because the group we have formed, whose members are our conversation partners, agree, this is what we should now believe.'
This shuts others out of the discussion, and in the case of the Anglican Communion, this shuts the larger part of the communion out of any discussion being held in the echo chamber of the Church of England and its friends.

My understanding of Anglican polity is that we are bound by the scriptures, interpreted within the living tradition of the Church through the application of reason and experience. Reason and experience have caused me to come to the scriptures anew and reassess my reading of them. Scientific insight is part of that experience.

My Response:
The Equal Authority Fallacy: 'Scripture, 'living' tradition, reason, and experience are equal authorities for formulating doctrine and ethics.'
This modern notion of theological authority allows interpreters to formulate various arguments against the Biblical text and the Church's teaching, as in this case. Interestingly, Inge invokes the 'Wesleyan Quadrilateral' of four authorities rather than the traditional Anglican 'three-legged stool,' which excludes experience. Even so, the Church traditionally (and Biblical authors) never treat the Bible's authority as on equal footing with other authorities.

Alongside such engagement with the scriptures, over the years I have observed good, faithful, monogamous relationships between people of the same sex which I cannot believe to be inherently sinful. Equally affectingly, I have been moved by the pain inflicted on gay people by the Church.

My Response:
The Relationship (Experience) Fallacy: 'Because I have had good relations with someone, I should accept their moral standards, no matter what Scripture says or the Church teaches. Not to do so causes them pain, and that would be wrong.'
When hearing this argument, I first recall how the infamous doctor at Auschwitz experimented on his prisoners, but who also loved high culture and played with children. It may be more helpful, though, to quote Paul:

'I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."'

That pain has remained constant even though society, in my view, has become more enlightened.

My Response:
The Enlightenment Fallacy: 'We are more enlightened and therefore ethically superior to previous centuries.'
This argument might work in science, but not in theology and ethics. When I hear this argument, I often think that the person putting it forward needs to spend a year reading classical literature. Only those ignorant of the arguments in antiquity go around claiming that we are now more enlightened.

... I believe the time has come for all of us to be honest about the convictions we have reached after prayer, study of scripture and theological reflection, often over many years. My prayer is that such honesty might lead us into a deeper understanding of one another and so into a richer unity.

My Response:
The Personal Piety Fallacy: 'Because I/we pray, study Scripture, and reflect theologically over time and come to a view opposed to Scripture and the Church's theological teaching, we should now oppose Scripture and the teaching of the Church over 2,000 years.'
One has to wonder whether Inge really believes that his personal piety gives him a right to oppose the teaching of Scripture and the Church for 2,000 years? I suspect that this might be an argument of convenience--'this might work on some readers.' Insincerity is perhaps not as bad as pride.

How can we expect the Spirit to lead us into all truth if we are less than honest with one another?

My Response:
The 'Spirit' Fallacy: 'By appealing to the Spirit's guidance, we can make Biblical and established Church teaching fluid and therefore consider contradiction something good.'
The doctrine of the Spirit's inspiration, however, is that the Spirit inspired Holy Scripture. It is not that the Spirit guides us to change Scripture.

... In reassessing my understanding of what they have to say to us on this issue I have been helped by the brilliant Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann, who tells us that we should start 'with the awareness that the Bible does not speak with a single voice on any topic. [But he does not say this about homosexuality. His argument is that Scripture clearly teaches a single view: that homosexuality is sinful. His opinion is that this should not be authoritative.] Inspired by God as it is, all sorts of persons have a say in the complexity of Scripture, and we are under mandate to listen, as best we can, to all of its voices.'

My Response:
The Postmodern Hermeneutic Fallacy: 'Different voices exist within Scripture, therefore Scripture is complex, with "all sorts of persons" having their different statements in Scripture, leaving us to pick up the unresolved discussion of authors within Scripture.'
There are several errors in this postmodern view, some having to do with an understanding of canonical authority, some with interpretation of specific and actual texts, and some with an understanding of the reader's role in interpreting authoritative texts. One point to emphasise is that even Brueggemann accepts that all the relevant Biblical texts consider homosexuality to be sinful, but Inge attempts to use Brueggemann's postmodern interpretation to argue something else that postmodern interpretation affirms: truth is local and constructed, not universal and revealed.

... [This part oddly begins with a reference to R. T. France, who actually was arguing the opposite of what Inge does and who was making an important point about hermeneutics.]
The fact is that we all view the scriptures through a particular lens. As Walter Brueggemann puts it:
All interpretation filters the text through life experience of the interpreter. The matter is inescapable and cannot be avoided ... we read the text according to our vested interests. Sometimes we are aware of our vested interests, sometimes we are not. It is not difficult to see this process at work concerning gender issues in the Bible.
This process enables some of us who would think of ourselves as 'Bible believing Christians' to question the teaching of what others would describe as 'the plain meaning of scripture'.

My Response:
The 'All Interpretations are Subjective' Fallacy: 'Because readers have vested interests, their interpretations are their own. Therefore, we cannot claim that we know the plain meaning of Scripture.'
Apart from such an argument undermining all theological arguments, even Inge's, one might think for a minute on how such an argument might stand in running a household, let alone a Church. Anarchy does not work, even if it is supported by a bad hermeneutic that we are locked in our own subjectivity.

For example, what St Paul says about women not praying with their heads uncovered (1 Corinthians 11.1-13) and not speaking in Church (1 Corinthians 4.34-35). It is very difficult to reconcile these passages with women taking an equal part in church worship, let alone being ordained. Taken at face value it would mean all Christians who are female wearing head coverings in church or in prayer. It is necessary to point to other texts and produce arguments to suggest that these should carry more weight. In fact, looking at these passages together with what Paul says elsewhere about there being neither male nor female in Christ, it becomes more difficult for Christians to use the texts to bolster patriarchy or even to subjugate women.
The same is true of the remarriage of divorcees, which Jesus specifically prohibits in St Mark's gospel (Mark 10. 1-12, especially verses 11-12), thereby contradicting Moses. There is what is referred to as 'the Matthean exception' (Matthew 5.31-32) which further complicates the picture. Which teaching of Jesus do we follow?
Some would say that whereas the scriptures are ambivalent about divorce and the role of women in the leadership of the Church, they are unequivocal in their condemnation of homosexuality. I do not think that is true. I do not think that the oft quoted passages in Leviticus and Paul refer to anything comparable to the faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships which some of us are suggesting the Church should celebrate. Among others, I have found the pastoral theologian David Runcorn particularly helpful in summarising how these texts can be interpreted and I use some of his insights below.
It must be admitted that wherever instances of same-sex sexual activity are found in the Bible they are unequivocally condemned but what I believe the Bible condemns is something that every gay person in the Church today would also condemn - abusive, oppressive, exploitative relationships.
The Bible never explains why same-sex sexual activity is condemned: it may well be the exploitative nature of the activity described. [This is actually a false statement at several levels. For one thing, there is a Biblical ethic of sexuality and a Biblical understanding of marriage in which the rejection of homosexuality fits perfectly. For another thing, Paul's statement in Romans 1.26-27 understands homosexuality as 'against nature' and a rejection of the Creator's design.] Leviticus 18 is a case in point and 1Cor 6.9 is another. Both texts are difficult to translate with any certainty but one clue of how to do so may be the other vices on Paul's list. They are all examples of abusive, domineering, self-seeking, exploitative and even criminal behaviour, which are rightly condemned. [Here, again, is the Ladder of Abstraction Fallacy. But it is also an interpretation error: the sin lists are very concrete in what is forbidden, not abstraction.] Paul clearly has Leviticus in mind. [Yes, indeed, he does in 1 Cor. 6.9 and 1 Tim. 1.10. This shows Paul's affirmation of and consistency with Lev. 18.22 and 20.13. Inge seems confused with what he is saying here.]

My First Response:
The Ladder of Abstraction Mistake: 'Move away from concrete and particular statements to more general and abstract principles in order to create some view of one's own.'
This is a mistake that appeared with late 18th century and throughout much of 19th and 20th c. Modernity. Modernity intentionally moved away from the specific teaching in Scripture to a much more general and abstract teaching. In ethics, Modernists worked with principles or values, preferably one or two only, and rejected specific teaching in laws, sin lists, or other statements in Scripture. This mistaken view--really just an assertion that made sense to Modernists--claims that, whatever specific thing a Biblical text actually says, we can move up the ladder of abstraction from the concrete to the more abstract, using values and principles to counter it. This is often done as people reject concrete statements in Scripture on the grounds that they are not loving. 'Love,' or some other value, is invoked as the principle giving one license to do this. Scripture does not use values this way, however, and even Jesus' statement that the Law is summed up in love of God and love of neighbour involves not the rejection of the moral teaching of Scripture but the affirmation that the moral teaching of Scripture is loving: in these two commandments the Law and the prophets are fulfilled.

My Second Response:
The Authoritative Voice Fallacy: 'By citing the opinion of a few voices that some might accept as authoritative (e.g., Runcorn) while ignoring others, we can might simply trust their opinions and not concern ourselves with the details of actual arguments.'
This also works when the few authoritative voices say that the text is obscure so that we might ignore it. This might be called 'The Lazy Audience' Gammit, since it depends on people justifying their not paying attention to details.

[In what is omitted, Inge attempts to address some of Paul's texts. (He does not, incidentally, even mention all the relevant Biblical texts, and he never attempts any exegesis of them.) This is a good demonstration of his lack of research and understanding of the passages. I have written elsewhere on these passages at length.]
... Paul had discovered a dif¬¬ferent kind of freedom. It was based not on bodies but on wills. Freedom in Christ was about the transforma¬tion of the mind.
The condemnation of homo¬sexuality and, in fact, all sexual acts save those that were necessary to procreate, followed because to in¬¬dulge in them was gratuitously to exercise your freedom as if you were rejecting the new freedom of mind and will to be found in Christ. This is what Paul focused on.

My Response:
An Interpretation Error:
While a larger discussion might emerge from Inge's statement at this point, perhaps the better response is to recommend focusing on 1 Corinthians 6.12-20. Paul addresses the error that Inge makes. The Corinthians were trying to push a view of freedom that allowed them to avoid any body ethics, such as going to prostitutes. Paul concludes, 'Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own [so drop the abstract, 'freedom' argument], for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body' (vv. 19-20).

Nowadays, the slave economy has gone, at least as an official policy. In a liberal society, no one has the right to anyone else's body. Similarly, the Church no longer teaches that the best sex is no sex, as it did for much of its first 1500 years.

My Response:
The Faulty Church History Argument:
These peculiar, two sentences sit oddly in Inge's argument, but they raise the question, 'What about Church history?' Protestants, including Church of England Anglicans, often do not even engage Church history in theological arguments or 'play' with it. This is possible because few are actually interested in history, and even more do not know their history, so interpreters can either ignore it or do what they wish with a bit of it. This is exactly what Inge does a few times with Church history in his letter. In Inge's second sentence, he suggests that the Church opposed sex in its 1500 years and, further, implies that the Church now affirms sex without restrictions. Inge is, at best, playing with Church history and, at worst, misinterpreting it.

Those who adhere literally to Paul's injunctions have, therefore, lost sight of the spirit of the gospel. Christian freedom, based upon will, is now commonly ex¬¬pressed in the notion of consent. Love is the basis for sexual re¬¬lation¬ships, not ownership. Cele¬brating sexual love is now to witness to the freedom to be found in Christ.

My Response:
Mischaracterisation, Moral Abstraction, and 'the Gospel is freedom' Errors:
This paragraph is difficult to address inasmuch as it introduces three errors in just three sentences. First, it mischaracterises those who would argue in favour of reading Paul the way he intended to be read. Would Paul agree with Inge that anyone who took him literally was missing the spirit of the Gospel? One can see behind Inge's error here some memory that Paul did contrast the Law and letter with the Spirit (as in Rom. 7.6; 8.2 and 4; Gal. 3.2; 5.18; 2 Cor. 3.3 and 6), but he really needs to do some reading on these passages rather than set Paul up for self-contradiction. Once again with Inge, we see his moral abstraction along the lines of Situation Ethics: do the loving thing, whatever that means in the situation. If 'love is the basis for sexual relationships,' we could reintroduce pederasty and celebrate polygamy and consenting, incestuous relationships. Finally, any discussion of the Gospel in terms of freedom should proceed from Galatians 5 and Romans 6, which would offer a quick correction to Inge. Paul actually argues the opposite of what Inge says. The freedom gained in the Gospel is a freedom from sin and a freedom to obey God, which was not possible when under the power of sin.

Equally, Paul is not talking about what we would term sexual orientation, a very modern concept. [This is a prideful: 'We now know better.' More reading in history and more self-awareness could correct this. In fact, classical literature discussed orientation in a variety of ways: as an understanding of 'desire'; in terms of cultural influence (Lydian influences, e.g.); in discussions of nature versus nurture; in particular, philosophical discussion about living according to nature versus against nature; orientation and astrology; etc. The term 'malakos' in particular, which he mentions briefly, is not, as he claims about sexual acts but is a term of 'soft' orientation.] Arsenokoitēs and malakos describe roles being adopted in same-sex sexual acts. To be a man in the ancient world was to be assertive and dominant; to be a woman was to be passive and receptive. Men who were malakos in the relationship were a scandal, 'effeminate' and mocked. [Oddly, Inge drops this line of thought. He is really referring to the Greek word, malakos, here. It means 'soft' and had a rich meaning in antiquity (cf. Latin, mollis). Much could be said about this word, often misunderstood, but Inge has not said enough to both with a response here.] When Leviticus 18 specifically condemns lying with a man 'as with a woman' there seems to be a similar concern with roles. [This is a mere assertion; no argument is offered. In fact, Lev. 18.22 and 20.13 make no distinction between partners in the homosexual act, such as a dominant and passive role. He shows an ignorance of the text and its interpretation and is comfortable with his own assertion, as though it should carry weight in itself.] God willing, we don't nowadays understand love-making and sexual intimacy in terms of active and passive roles, with men as active and dominant and women as passive. Surely a Christian understanding of love and relating is about mutuality and partnership? I would suggest that gospel teaching about love redefines ancient assumptions about hierarchy and role, both socially and theologically. [Assertions and opinions not giving enough argument for a reply.]
I believe Walter Brueggemann is right when he writes that the reason the Bible seems to some to speak 'in one voice' concerning matters that pertain to LGBTQ persons is that 'the loud voices most often cite only one set of texts, to the determined disregard of the texts which challenge vested interest. Serious reading does not allow such a disregard, so that we must have all of the texts in our purview.'

My Response:
The Ad Hominem Fallacy: 'My opponent can be accused of something else (loud voices, vested interests, unserious reading), therefore his or her arguments on this topic are wrong.'
Of course, this is an inaccurate claim about orthodox scholars who reject the revisionist arguments of Western progressives. Even so, the argument is fallacious as it is ad hominem.

Jesus made no mention of homosexuality, though the fact that he refers to a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving to his wife in the same passage as he prohibits divorce (Mark 10. 7-10), with a reference back to Genesis, leads some to suggest that the marriage of one man to one woman is a creation ordinance. But Jesus is here answering a specific question about divorce. The trouble is that there is no such thing as a fixed 'biblical' view of marriage. We know that the Bible countenances men having quite a few wives -- Solomon, we are told, had 700 -- so the witness is mixed, to say the least. The number of marriages in the Bible which can be held up as examples of what we would understand to be a 'good' marriage is surprisingly few.

My Response:
The Biblical Theology and Ethics Error: 'A confusion of the unity and diversity of canonical teaching on themes.'
In this case, the key problem is the argument put forward about how texts relate to canonical theology and how Biblical theology involves clarity on the unity and diversity within Scripture about certain themes. Contrary to his argument, Jesus is addressing a creation theology about marriage when speaking about divorce in Mark. 10.7-10, but he claims that 'there is no such thing as a fixed 'biblical' view of marriage. His support for this claim is that Solomon had 700 wives. In fact, the Bible does not put this forward as a Biblically endorsed morality. Much could be said about these two passages, but the point that needs to be made here is that he displays poor exegesis and an inadequate grasp of Biblical theology.

Sophisticated arguments concerning which parts of scriptures must be taken literally are made to deny affirming monogamous homosexual relationships. So, for example, the prohibition in Leviticus on 'a man lying with another man' is said to form part of the moral law whilst other prohibitions in Leviticus can be disregarded -- tattooing, for example! Such an approach involves intellectual gymnastics to produce an interpretation which avoids the 'plain meaning' of scripture and explain why some injunctions can be ignored, which is exactly what some suggest I am doing concerning same-sex relations.

My Response:
The False Conjunction Fallacy and Contextually Ignorant Exegesis: 'Because one law (against tattoing) is no longer a prohibition for Christians, other laws (like that against homosexual acts) should also be dismissed.'
In his example, Inge shows himself to be contextually ignorant. Tattooing had to do with (and in some cultures still does) devotion to a deity, as it also had to do with marking a slave as belonging to a master. What it is prohibiting is not bodily artwork, and it is just as relevant today as in its original context. The Levitical laws against homosexual acts relate to abominable, sexual practices that were in Canaanite and Egyptian culture but were forbidden by God against cultural norms.

It is also suggested that Genesis 2.24-26 concerning a man leaving his father and mother and being united to his wife is a 'creation ordinance'. That is to say, it is one of the principles that God gave to humanity at the beginning of creation before the fall. I have come to think that we tend to overplay the significance of gender in God's scheme of things. In Genesis we read 'male and female he created them, in the image of God he created them.' It is not gender which is essential in reflecting the image of God, though. God has no gender and both men and women are equally made in the image of God. This was recognised by the Church Fathers. Gregory of Nyssa went further, arguing that physical bodies would have been radically different before the fall, that male and female coexisted with the image of God, and that sexual differentiation came about only as the representation in the flesh of the fall from grace.

My Response:
The Reading Out of Context Exegetical Fallacy: 'While Genesis speaks of gender, we 'tend to overplay the significance of gender in God's scheme of things.'
Here is an attempted justification not to look at the text and interpret it because it says something we do not want to hear. It is a mere assertion of opinion, but against the Biblical text. In fact, the reason for introducing gender in both Genesis 1.26ff and 2.24ff is precisely to clarify how gender relates to marriage. It does so as it is what is required to be fruitful and multiply (procreation) and because the female is uniquely able to form 'one flesh' with the male, being taken out of the male (from his side, in the story). This is quite a remarkable paragraph in his letter in that it takes texts specifically speaking about gender and, by ignoring the verses' context, claims the opposite.

.... [The omitted part of the argument here is another sweeping claim regarding history, quoting Thomas Laqueur. I would just note that nobody should let this kind of argument pass. It involves sweeping generalizations, unsupported assertions, and no academic engagement with different scholarly views. Such arguments only function in essays to create the illusion of academic engagement and argumentation.]
Equally, neither sex nor gender have eternal significance. Jesus tells his hearers that 'at the resurrection they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, they will be like the angels in heaven.' (Matt 22.30) This correlates with what Paul writes to the Galatians, that 'in Christ there is no Jew nor Greek, no slave nor free, no male nor female'. (Gal 3.28) St Paul gave his life's ministry to enable Gentiles to be fully accepted as Christians. It was not until the Nineteenth Century that -- as now seems obvious to us -- the fact that slavery is an abomination became clear to Christians. I feel the Spirit is now convicting us of the truth of the third proposition.

My Response:
The 'Universals over Particulars' Error: 'At the root of this error is Plato's favouring of universals over particulars in his philosophy. Stoics and Cynics, on the contrary, argued for living 'according to nature.' One version of this error that the Church met already in the 2nd century was Gnosticism, a mythical philosophy and heresy that attached itself to Christianity. It disparaged the body.'
This kind of argument takes many forms, but it essentially denies the relevance of the body in favour of more 'universal' values. (It is related to the Ladder of Abstraction fallacy, noted above.) In Inge's case, 'being like the angels' in the next life eliminates body ethics in this life. Also, Paul's dismissal of ethnic, economic, and gender (only male and female, note) distinctions in Gal. 3.28 is taken as a license to eliminate social and physical distinctions altogether. Such an interpretation is impossible in the immediate context (read v. 27--Paul is arguing about identity in Christ versus all other identities, not denying other identities), and in the larger context of Paul's writings (he obviously does accept social and physical distinctions and even argues ethically in regard to these, as in 1 Cor. 11.2-16).

.... Since then, I have come to see that all the traditional 'goods of marriage' except procreation can be enjoyed by those in a same-sex marriage. The latter, in any event, is bracketed out in the Common Worship rite and, as we all know, not all heterosexual marriages produce children. The other two 'goods of marriage' that, after Augustine, are mutual love and support and sexual intimacy, are available in a gay relationship. If the Church were to accept equal marriage it could hold to its teaching that sexual activity properly belongs within marriage and it could give all the support it gives to heterosexual couples to homosexual ones.

My Response:
The Definition of Marriage Error: 'By describing what is 'good' in a marriage as procreation, mutual love and support, and sexual intimacy, and then accepting that not all marriages result in procreation, a definition of 'marriage' as love and support with sexual intimacy is created.'
Why did the Bible reject this definition and what Inge makes of it (which is obviously not what Augustine intended)? Also, this argument could endorse incestuous marriages.

The word 'homosexual' was first used in the Revised Standard Version of 1946 to translate biblical words and phrases referring to various forms of same-sex sexual activity (specifically 1Cor 6.9). Other translations soon followed suit.

My Response:
The Translation Red Herring: 'Homosexual' was first introduced in 1946 in the RSV translation and then by other translations, and it was a pejorative term.
This is a red herring argument, as various languages do use various terms appropriate to the era to capture the meaning of a text. 'Homosexual' is an appropriate rendering of arsenokoitēs in 1 Cor. 6.9 and 1 Tim. 1.10.
Moreover, English previously used 'sodomites' for homosexuals, as well as other terms. Greek and Latin had quite a variety of terms for homosexuality, in part because it discussed different presentations of this internal disorder, and Paul apparently is the origin of the term 'arsenokoitēs' (based on Lev. 20.13). 'Homosexual' is a good English word for this term. However, Inge's introduction of this is a red herring in the argument about same-sex marriage, taking us all off topic.

It's worth remembering that homosexuality was treated as a mental illness or simply a criminal offence at that time [19th, 20th c.]. It's sad that, in the absence of any examples of faithful, loving, gay relationships in the Bible, gay Christian desire and relating have become indelibly associated with all that is judged as most godless and abominable in the Bible. [The issue is not a lack of examples of this in the Bible but that it is lacking in the Bible precisely because it is condemned.] We need to recognise that gay Christians today, seeking to live consecrated, faithful lives in the way of Christ, simply do not find themselves described in these texts. They do not advocate or practise those exploitative sins of which Paul speaks. Indeed, the suggestion is deeply offensive. This must be taken with full seriousness. What they want is something different, very different: for the Church to bless their monogamous, committed, loving, faithful relationships. Withholding such blessing is experienced as punitive, and understandably so:
In refusing to bless our relationships, it says there is nothing good in them -- that we are unable to reflect the love of God in the same way that heterosexuals are. It says that we are somehow, innately, disordered. We are 'less than'. Our love and its human expression is something that needs to be 'excused', something we should be slightly embarrassed about.'
[Inge is asking the Church to redefine sin so that people committing that sin will not be considered sinners and would instead be welcomed. Adulterers and pedophiles would like the same license, no doubt.]
Those who articulate a conservative approach to sexuality need to understand that, though they may not intend to be homophobic, they are often heard to be so. [This is ad hominem. It is also a category error: someone who argues that something is wrong is not dealing with a phobia but making an argument. The word 'conservative' is inadequate here. The issue is a desire simply to 'conserve' but to be Biblically faithful Christians.] It's analogous, for me, to the way in which women not being allowed to be ordained can come across to some of them as branding them second-class citizens, whatever sophisticated biblical and theological reasons are given.

My Response:
The Analogy Fallacy: 'Comparison to another issue allows one to transfer arguments from one to the other.'
Inge here begs the question, 'Is ordination of women' comparable to same-sex marriage? The Bible does not clearly speak to the issue of ordination itself. It does speak to male and female roles and relationships, though. It does not handle these as moral issues in themselves. By this I mean that, e.g., to say a woman should not teach or have authority over a man is a view expressed that is likely (in my view) a concern about a particular heresy addressed in 1 Timothy. Even if it were a more universal concern, the statement is not presented as though it would be a sin if a woman did this. What is meant is that this will produce good order in the church. This is nothing like the verses about homosexuality. 1 Cor. 9-11 twice says that people who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Good polity in a particular context is hardly the same as moral failing that will have eternal consequences.

That said, I have a great respect for those who hold to a traditional view of marriage and am convicted that, whatever else happens, this view should continue to be honoured in the Church.

My Response:
Virtue Signalling:
This is a kind of virtue signalling. Having accused persons opposed to his view as 'homophobic,' he tries to virtue signal that he has the virtue of 'respectfulness.'

I was very struck by what the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a magisterial address at the Lambeth Conference prior to our consideration of the 'Call on Human Dignity'....
.... So let us not treat each other lightly or carelessly. We are deeply divided. That will not end soon. We are called by Christ himself both to truth and unity.

My Response:
The Unity Error: Being divided on this issue does not preclude unity. People who hold contradictory views about whether homosexuality is to be affirmed as a good or is a practice that will lead to eternal damnation should put their differences aside in the greater goal of 'unity.'

This claim simply does not fit any Biblical text, whether one looks at the specific issue of divided views on sexuality or on the Biblical understanding of unity. It does not fit any teaching in the Old Testament, which calls on Israel to reject the religions and practices of its neighbouring nations and those groups that previously occupied Canaan. It does not fit any practice of Jesus, who condemned the Jewish leaders for their lawlessness and formed a group around himself, apart from them and distinct from the temple. He cursed the fig tree in an action parable that condemned the religious leaders of his day for failing to produce a fruit of righteousness. It does not fit any teaching in the rest of the New Testament, which calls for a rejection of false teachers (who often offered an ethic like Inge's) and a separation between sexually immoral people who call themselves 'brothers' (e.g., 1 Cor. 5).

This brings us to an end of John Inge's arguments in favour of same-sex marriage. I am quite amazed at how many fallacies and errors he makes, and my purpose has been to draw attention to these. I have not found a single argument of his with the slightest merit and hope that readers (and his poor diocese!) can see the weaknesses as easily as they jump off the page to me. Insofar as the issue of same-sex marriage is discussed as a Biblical and theological matter and insofar as reasoning is used in the discussion, Inge's view is invalid at every turn. My fear, however, is that the Bible and theology really do not count for the Church of England bishops, and this exercise is therefore irrelevant. I strongly suspect that arguments are of no value when a postmodern mindset suggests that reasons are constructed and full of hidden assumptions and vested interests. We shall see if my assumption is correct when the bishops vote on this matter in February.
[1] John Inge, 'Open Letter to the Diocese of Worcester (9 January, 2023); https://www.cofe-worcester.org.uk/an-open-letter-from-bishop-john.php.

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