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UK: Will St. Paul's Pro-Homosexual Dean Red Flag Global South Primates Meeting in January?

UK: Will St. Paul's Pro-Homosexual Dean Red Flag Global South Primates Meeting in January?
Issues of trust will haunt reconciliation talks as Anglican Communion faces breaking point

By David W. Virtue DD
December 7, 2015

Western ambiguity over homosexuality and gay marriage is the single greatest stumbling block to continued unity in the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has been less than forthright on where he stands over gay marriage. Justin Welby will not say whether gay marriage is morally wrong. When he was asked in an interview about an Anglican priest in Lincolnshire who recently married his boyfriend, he replied: "It's best if I do not comment on that. It's a matter for the Bishop of Lincoln."

Really? And if clergy all over the country break church rules (but not the law) by marrying their same-sex partners in civil ceremonies, will the Primate of All England maintain his diplomatic silence?

Surely an easy way out would be for the Archbishop to say: "I'm an evangelical Christian who believes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. This is the firm teaching of the Church of England, as well as of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches. Therefore, while not wishing to stigmatize gay Christians, I cannot countenance blessing unions that are not sacramentally valid marriages." Apparently he cannot say that.

But one man who broke the rules on blessing homosexual couples long before the present Archbishop of Canterbury's waffle on the issue, was the new Dean of St. Paul's, London, 57-year old Dr. David Ison.

Billing himself as an evangelical, he announced back in 2012 that he had performed ceremonies for homosexual couples who had had civil partnerships when he was Dean of Bradford.

Did he violate the canons of the Church of England by doing that? If so, why was he not brought up on charges? How did he convince the evangelicals who recommended him for that post? Was he being truthful in what he believed about sexuality? Was there an element of deception there?

The leadership of the Church of England remains resolutely opposed to gay marriage, with the Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu declaring "marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman." In February 2014 the Church of England's House of Bishops rejected the possibility of official blessings for those in same-sex marriages after they become legal in the UK. The legalization of same-sex marriage does not require Church of England dioceses to perform same sex wedding ceremonies, but the bishops took matters a step further, refusing to perform both ceremonies and any form of official blessing for same-sex unions.

When he was first interviewed following his appointment to St. Paul's by the Queen, Dr. Ison said marriage should be available to same-sex couples. He doubled down on his statement by saying that it was better to refer to "Christian marriage" rather than to homosexual or heterosexual unions, and then claimed that the Church of England is "obsessed with sex."

This is blatantly untrue. The English are deeply reluctant to talk about their sex lives but homosexuals happily want to do so in order to ramp up the legitimization of their behavior and make it appear that their behavior is normal even though tens of thousands of men have died of HIV/AIDS from anal sex.

"You can regard two Christian gay people as wanting to have the virtues of Christian marriage," Dr. Ison said.

"As a Christian who is committed to marriage, I would say that for people to take on board, in their relationships, a commitment to lifelong chastity and being together is actually the best pattern for how to flourish if you're going to be in a relationship...whether you're gay or straight.

"I'm encouraged that a good number of gay people want to take on the virtues of marriage. For Christian gay people to model that kind of faithfulness, in a culture which, historically, has often been about promiscuity, is a very good thing to do," he told The Times newspaper.

Ison then went on to say that gay people should be able to adopt and insisted that "marriage doesn't belong to the Church."

He then indicated he would continue to provide ceremonies in the cathedral to affirm and pray for homosexual couples. The role of the Church is to be both inclusive and challenging, he opined.

In an interview with Christian Today, Dean Ison was asked if the Church shouldn't differentiate between gay and heterosexual people, and he replied, "Does Jesus differentiate between gay and heterosexual people? There's no evidence of that in the gospel. Paul raises the questions about sexual behavior right across the board and objects to immorality, promiscuity and other things."

Ison then tells us that in the nineties when he was in the Exeter Diocese he led a number of small groups into discussions about sexuality. "I want you to get into small groups and talk to each other about your past and present sexual practices and how they make you more or less holy in the sight of God."

Ison said such discussions would be private and then accused his hearers of talking about other people's privacy and not their own. "So this is holy ground we are walking on." Really.

Ison then likened it to debate on cohabitation in the early 1990s when almost nobody could be dogmatic because their brother or sister or child or parent was cohabiting and they were personally involved with the issue.

The argument that because everyone is now "doing it" suddenly makes it right whether it be heterosexual fornication or homosexual fornication is a profound fallacy that cannot be upheld by Scripture, the apostles or Church Fathers. The early counsels of the church would have equally rejected such logic.

One cannot change the ontology of human sexuality. Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the Vatican's Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in Philadelphia at the Conference on Families that sex is an ontological issue and cannot be changed with the differentiation in Genesis that is rooted in God's creation. "God created man in his own image and Jesus realized that in the reality of two persons, a man and a woman which he said "is fundamental to the good order of creation."

The Catholic prelate said this is neither Catholic nor Christian; it is part of the patrimony that belongs to the whole of humanity so it is inclusive. "This does not mean a cacophony of different voices but a single polyphonic harmony assigned to the whole of the human family. It is not just good, but beautiful."

New Testament theologian Dr. Robert Gagnon is more explicit and says a male-female is a prerequisite for sexual relations. "The differentiation of the adam or human into two distinct sexes, suitable for sexual pairing, each part of the self-contained whole of the sexual spectrum, with Jesus appealing to that creation paradigm in Gen 1:27 and 2:24 in his divorce/remarriage remarks as the foundation or basis for limiting the number of persons in a sexual union to two persons and Paul echoing it in his explicit indictments of homosexual practice in Rom 1:23-27 (8 points of correspondence with Gen 1:26-27) and 1 Cor. 6:9 (in 6:16 citing Gen 2:24).

"What Jesus defines as a foundational norm that has prescriptive and proscriptive implications for behavior and what the apostolic witness to Jesus confirms after his death as essential is binding for believers of all ages.

"Every text in Scripture that has anything to do with sex presupposes the validity of a male-female prerequisite. This is true of narratives, laws, proverbs, poetry, and similes. One can find exceptions for polygamy and even some forms of incest in the Old Testament that are subsequently disallowed (incest already in Levitical law, polygamy by Jesus). But there are never in the pages of Scripture any exceptions for homosexual practice (and the relation of David and Jonathan or Ruth and Naomi are emphatically not homosexual in character).

"Jesus' outreach to outcasts is no argument to the contrary, since his outreach to economic exploiters (tax collectors) and sexual sinners is in tandem with his teaching that intensifies God's demands for economic justice and sexual purity. In other words, he reaches out to such persons precisely because they are at greatest risk of not inheriting the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.

"Neither reason nor science, properly understood, point us in the direction of discarding this core value in the sexual ethics of Scripture. Neither the idea of committed homosexual relationships between adults nor the idea of congenital influences in homosexual development is a "new knowledge" discovered only in "modern" or "postmodern" times. The Greco-Roman milieu that Jesus and Paul inhabited already had such notions circulating widely. Moreover, neither notion has any bearing on why Jesus or Paul maintained a male-female requirement. For them God had ordained a male-female prerequisite for sexual unions (i.e. marriage) in creation and the material structures of maleness and femaleness confirm it. At all levels -- anatomically, physiologically, psychologically -- it is self-evident that the appropriate counterpart or complement to a male is a female and to a female a male."

Though no Church of England bishop has ever come out of the closet, Ison said he thought the Church has had gay bishops. In January 2013 The Church of England dropped its opposition to gay bishops. Gay clergy in civil partnerships would be allowed to become bishops but they must promise to be celibate. In 2014 Peter Tatchell, a British gay activist, threatened to out gay bishops in the Church of England.

Archbishop Welby might regard homosexual marriage as a plausible "development of doctrine" but the Global South primates, including and especially the GAFCON primates, do not...and never will. A liberal evangelical like Welby is as unacceptable to them as a Dr. Ison and whoever else is out there as a declared or undeclared homosexual or pro-gay activist.

Even the Queen, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, got into the act recently and sent a coded message to the Global South when she said this "...I am sure that members of the Synod will pray earnestly that the gathering in January of the Primates of the Anglican Communion will be a time when, together, they may know what is God's will."

The Queen along with the CofE establishment hopes and expects "good disagreement" to break out over sexuality. Really!

Note the coded message to the Global South Primates as they prepare to face Anglican revisionist leaders from the United States and Canada at Archbishop Welby's summit in January. That message is encapsulated in the key word "together" and thus translates: "Don't spoil the party; instead come prepared to discern God's will in a collegial way."

This is called sin management. Hopefully the Global South archbishops will see through this and do what they must to maintain the truth about the gospel and human sexuality. If they do not, the Anglican Communion is lost.

Justin Welby has called this summit meeting to break the log jam and to hopefully bring reconciliation to all the parties and to keep the Communion from splitting. But surely a lesson could be learned from South Africa that there can be no reconciliation without truth. How can the African primates of the Global South be sure that the Church of England and its leadership, given and illustrated by Dr. Ison's position, can be trusted? How do they know they will tell the truth?


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