Martin Davie: A Failure to Take Sex Seriously

Though this article refers to the situation specifically within the Church of England, it does offer a brief, biblical, and classically Anglican response to trangenderism and why the Church cannot (if it is to be truly loving) accept it.

UK: A failure to take sex seriously: A response to General Synod Misc. 1178


By Martin Davie
Jan. 25, 2018


In July last year the Church of England’s General Synod passed a motion brought forward by the Blackburn Diocesan Synod. This motion declared ‘…that this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.’

In advance of this February’s General Synod the House of Bishops has responded to this motion in GS Misc 1178, An update on ‘Welcoming Transgender People.’[1]

The three key paragraphs in this paper are paragraphs 3, 6 and 4.

Paragraph 3
In response to the call in the July Synod debate for the Church of England to welcome and affirm transgender people, paragraph 3 declares:

‘The House of Bishops welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the Church, the body of Christ, and rejoices in the diversity of that one body, into which all Christians have been baptized by one Spirit.’

The problem with this paragraph is its use of the term the term ‘unconditional affirmation.’

It is unquestionable that all people should be regarded as having infinite value because they have been created by God in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) and because Christ died and rose for them in order that they might have eternal life (Romans 5:1-21). It is also unquestionable that in obedience to the Great Commission (Mathew 28:18-20) the Church is called to welcome everyone in order that they may have the opportunity to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

However, this does not mean that is right to offer anyone ‘unconditional affirmation.’ We live in a world in which ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) and this means that there are many aspects of everyone’s lives which it is not right to affirm because they are contrary to God’s will. For example, it would certainly not be right to affirm the ‘works of the flesh’ listed by St. Paul in Galatians 5:19-21.

As a result what we need to offer to everyone is ‘conditional affirmation.’ We need to

Continue reading Martin Davie: A Failure to Take Sex Seriously


From N.T. Wright and appropriate for Eastertide

Thanks, Bishop Morse, for sending this our way.


Nashotah House

The Rt. Rev. N. T. Wright

May the words of my lips, and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, or Rock and our Redeemer. Thank you for what you are as a community, and may God continue to bless you as you worship, which is at the absolute center of what this house does. You have put down roots deep into the heart of the faith, and so prepare yourself and others for loving service to our risen Lord. It is, of course, the knowledge of the risen Lord, and the call and the longing to bear witness to him that at the center of all Christian ministry. It is about that that I wish to speak as together we reflect in this commencement service on the call to mission and ministry in today’s and tomorrow’s church and world. I should apologize that I am not as one really ought, not preaching on the lessons we have heard read and sung. I want to home in one scripture passage of great depth and power, and suggest that I can’t do more than scratch its surface today, all of us would do well to return to it and find fresh hope and energy for what God is calling us to do. The passage in question is the last two chapters of John’s Gospel, chapters 20 and 21. These chapters are about as close as we can get to God’s powerful love and commissioning us for his service. In the UK we have a famous and favorite radio program called Desert Island Discs in which well-known people are invited to choose the music they take with them if they were marooned on a desert island, and at the end of the program they are invited also to take one book with them, but anticipating what many of them would say they are told that they already have the Bible and Shakespeare. In imitation of that I have sometimes asked ordination candidates and also candidates for parishes which chapters of the Bible they would take with them to a desert island, but anticipating what they would say, I would say you have already got Romans 8 and John 20 and 21. These chapters are about as close as we get to the heart of God’s powerful love rescuing us and commissioning us for his service.

Continue reading From N.T. Wright and appropriate for Eastertide

Highly Recommended Christianity Today Article (by an Anglican biblical scholar)

Christopher Wright—Learning to Love Leviticus

The Old Testament laws…exemplify how God wanted certain kinds of situations to be handled. They embody values and objectives, on the assumption that people would understand how to extrapolate from a particular case to a general principle and apply that to new situations. So to take all of the Old Testament laws at face value is to misunderstand their original intent in the first place.
How commands can function in relationships and communication. If I hear someone on the street shout, “Freeze! Put your hands behind your head!” I need to know two things. First, who is shouting? If it’s a police officer—someone whose authorized command I need to submit to—then yes. Second, is he addressing me? Likely the answer is no. It’s addressed to the guy who just robbed a street vendor and is running away. So the command has authority because of who gave it, but it is not addressed to me in that moment. It claims my respect—I should not break the law in that way either—but it does not claim my compliance.

Read it all.

So I’m not alone on the marriage issue!

After the debate in North Carolina over the ammendment to our state constitution further (redundantly) stating our belief that marriage is between one man and one woman I made a decision I had already wrestled with for some time.

In light of the increasing differences between the secular and the sacramental understandings of marriage and the confusion on both conservative and liberal sides of the debate, I will no longer act as an agent of the state to sign a marriage certificate. Couples who would like the civil benefits of state-recognized marriage are free to have that legal union certified at the courthouse. My part is to join, in the name of God and with the Church, two souls in Holy Matrimony. Give Caesar what belongs to him; I work for God.

Some to whom I have announced my preemptive denunciation of civil marriage see the move as unnecessarily inconvenient should a couple actually want me to marry them. They may be right. For now. This month we saw, though, that the tide of popular opinion in some states has shifted against the historic Christian understanding of marriage. And  today I finally read someone else say what I’ve been saying: .

Protestants might have a harder time drawing this line between civil and sacramental marriage. They have a hard time distinguishing the work of Christ through his Church sacramentally. For them Baptism is a personal act and Eucharist a simple act of commemoration. We catholics, though, understand that the sacraments are events in which we the Church are the gloves filled with the Hands of God, Christ and the Spirit.

We priests have so far in this country felt comfortable acting sacramentally to join man and woman as one flesh before God, conferring heavenly grace to the couple, and then signing the state’s form so that their civil blessings may also be applied. The state understanding of marriage seemed close enough to our own that we saw no conflict in acting as agents both of the Church and of the state by these actions. It is becoming clear, though, that this is no longer so comfortable an arrangement. The state has the right – given to it by its citizens – to define marriage as it chooses. The Church has no right – no matter what the Episcopalians say – to bless other than what God has deigned to bless.

Let the judges and some of the Protestants sign the legal documents; let couples write their own vows, recreating and redefining marriage at a whim; let straight people, gay people, multiple partners, people and puppy dogs get married under the law. It is not my concern. I am no judge. I am a priest of the Church. The liturgy within which I join a couple is not of my own composition; it, like me, is a servant of Christ and his Church. It defines the marriage along biblical lines and does not change with polls and ballots.

I would encourage all priests, indeed all Christian ministers whose view of marriage is sacramental, to flee Sodom. We have nothing left to do with civil marriage. Perhaps if we leave the debate to the secularists we can focus with renewed vigor and intensified catechesis on what Holy Matrimony really is.

Arguments against an evil thing are always weaker than the positive statement of the truth.

Why Sundays?

Conversations with several folks over the past few days have centered on the issue of Christian worship on Sundays. Does it matter what day of the week we hold our services? Why do so many Christians insist on Sunday morning worship? Is there anything wrong with a Christian having as their primary weekly service a Friday or Saturday night service? While I would be the first to admit that there is, to my understanding, no clear Scriptural commandment to worship on Sunday mornings and that “because we always have” is a woefully inadequate reason for choosing Sunday morning for worship, I want to lay out briefly the logic by which Christians have indeed always agreed that the time of worship does matter and that Sunday morning is the appropriate time for primary public worship for Christians. Continue reading Why Sundays?

Naming God – ABC Religion & Ethics – Opinion

Saw this from Stanley Hauerwas and liked it a lot. Click on the link to read the article. 

“God is whoever raised Jesus from the dead, having before raised Israel from Egypt.” This is the hallmark sentence of Robert Jenson’s Systematic Theology. It is an elegantly simple but dauntingly deep sentence, which took Jenson a lifetime of theological reflection to write.

To write such a sentence requires that we discipline our presumption that we know what we are saying when we say the word “God.” For it turns out that we are most likely to take God’s name in vain when we assume we know what we are saying when we say “God.”

Naming God – ABC Religion & Ethics – Opinion.

Let us not mock God with metaphor

This was sent to me by my sister-in-law (and fellow Anglican and English teacher) Jessica Edgerton.  Wonderful, wonderful Easter poem, especially in light of the reductionist nonsense we sometimes hear from our well-meaning – but errant –  brothers and sisters on the mainline.  Thanks, Jess!


“Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike


Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.


It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.


The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.


Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.


The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.


And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.


Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.