The responsibility of bishops
Posted by Kirsten Birkett, 26 Jan 2021
Kirsten Birkett examines the promises made by bishops and how those are seen in the Living in Love and Faith resources.
When we were ordained as bishops we were asked, ‘Will you promote peace and reconciliation in the church and in the world and will you strive for the visible unity of Christ’s Church?’ And each of us replied, ‘With the help of God, I will’. As we have acknowledged, we do not all agree over some matters of great importance for the well-being of Christ’s Church and how they relate to another question our ordination put to us: ‘Will you teach the doctrine of Christ as the Church of England has received it?’ We feel the tension among ourselves between uniting the church in its differences and pressing for decisive decisions in the contested areas about which each of us feels strongly. Nevertheless, we are united as bishops in our commitment to promote peace in the Church and to strive for the visible unity of the church.’
Living in Love and Faith, pp. 422-423.
I do not for a moment think that the job of a Church of England bishop is easy. Not at any time, and particularly not now. It is not a job I would want. We should, all of us, pray for our bishops, frequently.
We must continue to pray, and ask, that the Bishops stand by their word. It is good and right that they are united as bishops to keep the promises of their ordination. These promises are heavy with responsibility, and there may be many amongst the Bishops who genuinely do not see how to follow them right now.
What did Paul know of same-sex relationships?
Posted by Kirsten Birkett, 15 Jan 2021
Kirsten Birkett examines the claim that Paul would not have known about loving and committed same-sex relationships.
There is an argument that the apostle Paul would not have known about loving, committed homosexual relationships such as those in modern same-sex marriages; rather that he only knew of (and therefore only prohibits) abusive relationships between unequals. I have heard this argument repeated verbally, many times. It does not appear in LLF, although it perhaps lurks in the background of the discussion of some of the NT passages. Perhaps no one actually holds it these days. It’s also something difficult to discuss at all adequately in a short blog, and these limitations are acknowledged.
What is the evidence?
A brief foray into the literature makes clear that this is not a strong argument, mainly because of the contested nature of the evidence. There are two main types of evidence that can be used to argue about relationships in the Greco-Roman world: texts and pictures. From studying these, scholars draw various conclusions about which relationships were known of but not common, known of and common, or accepted.
You Are Not Your Own
Posted 12 Jan 2021
A new set of teaching resources from Church Society.
This set of resources has been produced by Church Society to help Christians learn about the Bible’s teaching on sex and marriage, particularly as the Church of England engages with the Living in Love and Faith material on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.
The seven topics in the series are designed to help Christians understand the Bible’s teaching on sex and marriage within a broader biblical context. The series begins with two sessions on meaning and identity, as we seek to understand who we are and what our purpose is in life. These are followed with sessions on sin and obedience, helping us to understand why we must be obedient to Christ rather than simply true to ourselves. Then we turn to the question of why God cares what we do with our bodies, and conclude with specific sessions on sex and marriage.
The resources include seven short videos, a printable discussion guide, and suggestions for sermon series.