Sunday, 16 December 2012

Email Bishop Alan Wilson: Updated

Just listening to the Sunday Programme and Bishop Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, has used as 'evidence' for the Church of England's position on same-sex marriage the fact that he has had (about) 100 emails supporting his position and 4 supporting the traditional view on sexuality and marriage.

His email address is

(BTW if you think I'm being mean, this blog is linked on his blog, so some of his supporters will presumably read this, if they don't read this blog already, and balance out the emails.)

UPDATE: You can hear the Sunday programme here. Bishop Wilson's contribution begins at 26:25. My reply to him is posted below. For some reason the numerous comments on this were not posting to my Blackberry, so I'd no idea during today that there'd been so much interest. Can I remind people of the posting policy: full name and address on EACH comment, even if you've posted before, and keep it polite. 

Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted. Recommend:


  1. If Civil Partnerships (a recognised legally protected relationship) can be blessed ( be recognised in a place of worship) then, according to the belief in that place of worship, those relationships can already be considered marriages in the site of God. The request now is to allow that relationship which can already be blessed to also be legally considered a marriage ie registered within a legal (manmade) institution. So the request is actually the right to add a legal element to an already-available religious service. Thus the request is not religiously motivated :)

    Marriage is between a man and a woman, for the creation and protection of life. We have the correct legal definition - the only one that can protect natural rights. People are free to believe that marriage is something else. But to accomodate that belief in law means changing the definition and therefore unavoidably removing legal recognition of natural rights from all parents and all children.

  2. John,the results so far of your campaign. 6 people have emailed me according to your instructions, but one is a married couple (2 email addresses) and one was actually agreeing with me. Meanwhile over 30 unsolicited messages have come, in various media, expressing a different point of view. As Monty Python used to say, this is getting silly... and pointless since what interests me is the truth of the matter, not the numbers.

  3. That is exactly the point - the truth. Either the truth comes from the clear teaching of Scripture, or it is made up by man.

    You justified your position by referring to numbers. I think, if anyone is being silly, it is you. As silly as your compatriot bishop who, on Newsnight recently, accused reasoned theological and biblical argument of being 'infantile', but based his case for redefining marriage on the fact that 'other countries have done it and the sky hasn't fallen in'...

  4. Majority consent has no biblical place in the positive; and sighting mere secular virtue of such--is mob rule.

  5. I am very grateful to Bishop Alan for the stance he takes on same sex marriage and I think it is shameful that Christians should be encouraged to harass him.

    1. Why because you are gay Bolton?

      If so you should have no place in the leadership of the Church


    2. Hold on there! Being gay means a person should have no place in the leadership of the church? Where does that doctrine come from?

  6. Mr. Bolton, the Anglican Communion has been rent asunder by a self-inflicted wound. It is unchristian to support it --and the like. Such a phenomenon is the sickness of all the Western Protestant world.

  7. Mr Bolton. It is Bishop Wilson himself who invites comment in his word: "what interests me is the truth of the matter, not the numbers" Indeed so, and I presume that would be your interest also.
    For sure there is a "truth" about marriage, and that is not ambiguous or hard to understand. I suggest to you it is Biblical truth.
    Most Christians would find it difficult to appreciate why advocates of SSM can presume to ignore the plain teaching of Christ.
    What, for example would you, or the Bishop not understand about Jesus' teaching on marriage as found in Mark 10:2-9? In that passage the primary issue is that of the flimsy grounds of divorce as taught by the Pharisees, but in his reply Christ made it clear that the Genesis mandate of exclusive heterosexual union had not been abrogated - hence his reference to "for this cause".
    As you may know, and the Bishop certainly should, homosexuality was not only anathema to God himself, it was as a result clearly so within Jewsish culture, and expressly forbidden by Mosaic law.
    We need not go over the Scriptures or refer to Paul's description of homosexual idolatry in Romans 1 - these are all clear.
    Jesus exhortation not to "put asunder" the indivisible bonds of male/female sexual union in heterosexual marriage are clearly exclusive of any other sexual liasions. They simply do not arise. I ask therefore what is unclear about his final and authoritative teaching on the matter?

  8. John - a further comment on the SSM issue in general terms.
    In a prospective letter to MPs on the issue, and as a reaction against either the C of E, or indeed any other churches being dragged into this chaotic dog's dinner being presented by Mrs Miller - I tentatively suggest the following threefold approach by MPs in coming debates on SSM under - 'The Way Ahead'

    " SSM is the cover and an excuse the government needs to destroy the current family orientated paradigm and substitute a state sanctioned, audited and controlled replacement. It is the notion of the traditional family that is being systematically destroyed by the establishment ruling class using a fabricated cover in order to progress a secret agenda of which we know almost nothing. Its about the increasing power and authority of the state over us, and dismantling anything that may stand in the way of the state taking over the role of the family.

    Secondly, “traditional marriage supporters are simply working to preserve the existing and legal definition of the institution against those who themselves want to use the force of law to compel the rest of us to agree to a new definition. It is a definition that nobody anywhere has EVER held.

    Laws concerning marriage have always been descriptive, describing or recognising a pre-existent reality. Even laws regulating certain aspects of marriage (the ban on polygamy, or laws against incest for instance) have served to protect marriage from those who would warp its traditional contours. But this is a law that redefines marriage to mean something completely different, something it has never been before in any culture past or present. It therefore arbitrary and unnecessary.

    The Way Ahead;-

    Firstly, is to oppose this policy move by the government having no tangible benefit for anybody, but many potential pitfalls.

    Secondly, is to vote for the current status of normal marriage as being the only institution in which children may be raised and nurtured by their biological parents within the safe and secure structure of a family.

    Thirdly, to encourage those who wish to pursue further "rights" for homosexuals to ask for an amendment to the Civil Partnership Act of 2004. This would give freedom for those wishing to make their own decision about recognition of their liaisons as marriage if they wish to, and to make their own arrangements accordingly. In such cases there would be no need or requirement for a change in the law.

    In addition this would remove entirely from the current debate unnecessary and very complex discussions about the separate roles of the State and the churches about marriage, and remove the arcane negotiations about ‘opt-outs’ & opt-ins by churches, and the equally unnecessary “quadruple locks” with all their attendant problems as set out by the Culture Minister.
    This avoids more potential division and damaging litigation for all concerned in the future, and the status quo could remain on the admirable basis - 'If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it'!

  9. Gosh - if only we saw such effort on the part of fellow parishioners when it came to REAL moral issues, perhaps then the church wouldn't have got into the state it is now...

    It is amazing how the faithful can be mustered...

    1. Peter

      What real moral issues do you consider secondary

      Lets look at liberals like Alan

      They worship other gods

      They do not believe that the Bible is God's word

      They condone the murder of innocents

      Three for starters Not REAL enough for you?


  10. Golly gosh! As we are talking Jewish views - or rather someone proposed the clear position in Judaism it might be worth noting that their is a plurality of views, with reform jews, liberal jews, and reconstruction jews, along with some orthodox jews who accept homosexuality as fine. Many other orthodox jews reject it, but they do so from a wonderfully consistent position. What I mean by this is that they belive that Torah is without error, and so follow all its precepts, they also believe that the teachings of the Talmud came down to Moses on mount Sinai. although i may disagree, i respect there consistency - they don't wear cloth made from wool and cotton, they do hold to all the other commandments. I find it peculiar that Christians who reject so many of the sections of Torah would try and use it to support their position.

    I have no difficulty at all in understanding Christians who faithfully hold to all the teachings of the new testament rejecting homosexuality - Paul said everyone should avoid marriage and that marriage should only be entered into by people who cant control their desires. Christians who insist women wear head-coverings, and who give away all their money to the poor and see this as a requirement of membership of their local church have in my view every right to argue that the bible cant be read within its social context, but i struggle to understand those who don't hold these view, but at the same time cherry pick issues they consider valid or invalid. I found the book 'after virtue' a really interesting read on the way that historically the bible has been used to support a wide range of differing views.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Luke you miss the point. Homosexuality is a behavior. That means people choose to engage in it. Homosexuals choose to have sex with those of the same sex because it is said that they are by nature constructed to desire sexual relations with those of the same sex. But this is nothing more than an assertion of the primacy of desire. The problem is that by nature men desire many evil things.

      Everyone understands and agrees that men choose their behaviours. Some behaviours are considered evil, and so those choices are restricted whether men want to choose them or not. What has changed is the understanding of good and evil. People no longer believe that homosexual sex is evil behaviour anymore.

      To suggest that the church is inconsistent and so people are and can pick what they want from the scripture is to suggest that the church adopt a materialist understanding of good and evil. We would have to decide that the stated desire of homosexuals becomes in itself a form of new Revelation all the while blinding ourselves to the obvious complementarity that exists everywhere in the created world around us. The stuff you write about head coverings is a side issue. However, I agree with you that Christians should feel that everything that they have, money, family, pride, sexuality etc should be less important than Jesus. Homosexuals today are not willing to give up their sexual practices for Jesus. For some money or power, or attractiveness is more important. Easier said than done, but Jesus demands that everything in our lives come second to him.

      So to sum up you are right that if we are saved we cannot pick and chose what bits of the bible we follow and therefore it follows that practicing homosexuals are not Christians. They are choosing their own desires (hell) rather than God.


  11. If I may clarify one point, I only said anything about numbers because the suggestion has been made that there is only one view of this matter held among Christians. This is simply not true, and that's the point I was making. John fixed on it to try and get people to harrass me with massed messages. That has backfired because at the end of Sunday I've had more support than disparagement... which is very welcome, but please I do have other things to do. I am also pointing out that same sex marriage does exist in a number of jurisdictions around the world, and we have to work out the pastoral and missional ramifications of that fact.

    1. Paul talks about many false teachers (Matthew 4-5 and 11-12)

      He warned that false teacher would arise from within (Acts 20 28-30

      A devil looks like a holy Christian (Matt 7-15)

      I am all for an all embracing Anglican Church. But when the leaders are evil?

      Time to reconsider


  12. This is harrasment and it's disgraceful that you should resort to it. And I bet you don't publish this!

  13. I emailed Bishop Alan on behalf of myself and my wife. We had no intention to harass but to put an alternative point of view and to seek an assurance that a significant minority in the church, far greater than the 0.025% of the UK population living as same-sex couples who are being championed, will receive the same consideration by having acceptable provision made for them in advance of legislation for women bishops. We have received no such assurance. I wonder why?

  14. Bishop Alan, I'm sorry if you think I am trying to get people to harass you. Nothing could be further from my intentions.

    In any case, it is rather odd to classify messages of support as acceptable and messages of disagreement as 'harassment'.

    However, what prompted me to post this on the spur of the moment was your words on the Sunday programme this morning, to quote: "I’ve had about 130 message since I was on Newsnight the other day, four of them have taken the traditional line, 120 of them haven’t, so I think we need to get real about where things are on the ground, which is not where head office says they are."

    This looks to me rather like an argument from numbers: 'Where things on the ground are shown by the numbers, which (as represented by my email bag) are about 120 to 4 in support of my views on same-sex marriage.'

    I don't think I misunderstood the point you were making, and it just occurred to me that it might be helpful to hear from those who take a different view.

    Harassment would be mere inundation of your email inbox or abuse, which I certainly hope you did not receive. Getting people to say, "No, bishop, you're wrong," is not harassment.

    Furthermore, I said in my post, "if you think I'm being mean, this blog is linked on his [your] blog, so some of his [your] supporters will presumably read this, if they don't read this blog already, and balance out the emails."

    According to what you're saying, this is exactly what has happened, and you seem happy enough to claim the support this shows, which as I said, would be fair enough. But I suggest you listen to the alternative.

    Finally, I would just quote Sir Gerald Howarth, Tory MP for Aldershot and himself a churchwarden, who was on the Sunday programme just after you and said, “I have had a huge number of emails and letters from people — I’ve had two – unlike the bishop I’ve only had two supporting his view. The overwhelming majority are against.”

    As you say, numbers are not everything, but if we're prepared to claim they are on our side we must believe they represent something.

  15. BTW if people want to, they could, of course, contact Sir Gerald to balance out his mailbag. Once again, I cannot see that this would be 'harassment'.

  16. Alan

    "I only said anything about numbers because the suggestion has been made that there is only one view of this matter held among Christians."

    Indeed there are different views, though it is hard to see how these different views all come from the same Bible which says that those who continue to practice homosexuality (along with other sins) will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    We know from Article XX that 'it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written'. Yet you are promoting this innovation.

    However you have a particular role as a bishop to refute error rather than promote heresy. This rather makes your position untenable.

    Steven Pascoe

  17. John, that makes sense (to me)
    Of course, also, people generally email the person that they support. So, a bishop supports the "new" line - get's lots of thumbs up, an MP supports that trad line, he get's the thumbs up. I had no idea who Bishop Alan was until a couple of days ago.

    However, if we're talking about harassment, isn't it interesting that those who get genuine hate mail for taking a trad stance on sexuality, marriage, or consecration of bishops, sometimes even threats, don't go out in public & bleat about it. I only know because some have shared it with me. But as John pointed out, drawing attention to some inviting comments, is not harassment.

  18. Steven Pascoe,

    For sure! But where do you even start? +Alan, can't seriously argue that what he says just drops out of the Bible. Now, that may sound silly, fundamentalist etc. But maybe the bishops have all got their heads together & say, "well we're all going to go against the Bible on this one", nope. Isn't there meant to be collegiality in the house of bishops? All the arguing goes on behind closed doors.

    so... he's broken ranks with Scripture AND his fellow bishops AND his fellow Presbyters whom he is meant to govern the church with. (+Alan, did you consult a broad group of Vicars and bishops before shotting, then asking questions?)

    Then there is a little issue that the Church does NOT = the C of E & for that matter the C of E does not equal global Anglicanism. That's before the fact we're meant to believe in a church that's one in time too!

    So for those of us outside of the C of E, who didn't ask for +Alan to be our spokesman, it's very annoying (we all get lumped together). And chatting to a non-church-going relative yesterday just thinks liberal Christianity makes no sense - unbelief yes, traditional Christianity (of any shade) - yes - liberalism (his wording) is prancing around.

  19. Actually the bible has nothing to say about same sex relationships as understood in today's society. And what it may or might not say about homosexual acts is not clear either. Those texts so often trotted out are themselves translations, tinged by the theological beliefs or prejudices of the translators themselves. Besides the bible says lots of things which we ignore, including St Paul, whose strictures on marriage aren't exactly encouraging. What is remarkable is how such little of substance is elevated into a teaching of hate, exclusion and condemnation which bears no relationship to the teachings of the Christ which your contributors say they adhere.

    As for condemning false teachers, well, one of the cries of the conservatives is that the bishops don't give leadership. Now that one is they don't like it.

  20. I'm not sure what a same-sex relationship 'as understood in today's society' is meant to be apart from one that has become socially acceptable. I would commend Bruce Thornton's Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality for a study of what an earlier society thought.

    Meanwhile, as to what St Paul taught and thought, I've done my own work on that, available as a short commentary on 1 Corinthians 7, titled God, Sex and Marriage, though this drew quite heavily for its initial inspiration from Gordon Fee's excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians. I would suggest those who think they know what St Paul taught check Fee out.

  21. Richard,
    I'm not sure that's leadership. If we were using a war anaology, that's like saying a General handing over a big piece of land to the enemy was exercising leadership. Church leadership is meant to be calling the people to stand together in truth to win people for Christ and transform the nation. Not convince them there is no need for Christ and transform the church into the nations image (with candles & surpluses)

    Darren Moore

  22. So Mr Richardson's conclusions are more valuable than mine? Does he claim some divine inspiration that he says I don't have? And Darren thinks the bishop is a cheese eating surrender monkey and that dogma is like property and has to be defended by machine guns. I don't like either of these versions of Christianity and neither does the population at large. This isn't what Christ came to teach, and I for one won't have anything to do with it. If that puts me on the road to hell, so be it.

  23. Richard,
    It was an illustration! The Apotle Paul talked about taking ideas "captive". I'm just saying not all leadership = good leadership IF it takes you in the wrong direction, OR is running against your organisation.

    I don't believe John is claiming infallibility. BUT, there is a typical "liberal" line which is, "oh the Bible didn't mean that", Evangelicals, they're all a bit silly, if only they understood words. What John's done above is a give a very small e.g. that suggests some evidence suggests that what you said is wrong & it needs a bit more work. It would be just the same for me to say, "why should we take your word as infallable - it didn't even reference any sources to back up your high claim, we were meant to just take your word that it was so".

    Re-read your own posting, which is not illustrative, but rhetorical, not engaging with any argument, but merely associating traditional views with violence. That sort of underhand technique, all too common on the internet, but sadly in Synods etc. too, is something I want nothing to do with. We then just play word games.

  24. Richard Ashby said: "Actually the bible has nothing to say about same sex relationships as understood in today's society. And what it may or might not say about homosexual acts is not clear either"

    Richard, perhaps you would be kind enough to elucidate. From your comment are we to assume that the Bible says one thing for one generation, but another for a different generation? Is not "today's society" to be subject to God's Word as previous societies? As I posted earlier - what is not clear about Paul's teaching about perverted sexual relationships in Romans 1?

    You say: "Those texts so often trotted out are themselves translations, tinged by the theological beliefs or prejudices of the translators themselves."

    Can you give examples of the texts you refer to, and instances of mis-translation s)? After all, we do have access to the original greek texts!

    Those texts so often trotted out are themselves translations, tinged by the theological beliefs or prejudices of the translators themselves.

  25. I am also waiting with bated breath to discover quite which texts have allegedly been so shamefully translated. It is interesting that none of the 15 or so translations on my shelf differ in any significant way in translating the passages that might be the ones referred to.

    And even my own studies of the Greek (in which I admit I am not an expert) have failed to uncover such mistranslations - maybe it is the Greek texts that are incorrect? Though both the major ones seem to concur on what is said in these same passages.

    Please, do let us know where we have gone so wrong.

  26. John,

    I have not heard the interview, but if what you are saying is accurate, then isn't it interesting that the thinking is so prevalent that says majority = truth?

    The majority of the GS voted for the motion regarding the implentation of women to the episcopate, so this means that it is God's will.

    I wonder what would have happened if this thinking prevailed during the Arian controversy with Athanasius.
    I fail to see the connection between God’s Will and the Majority. Biblically speaking, if anything it seems that when God’s people made a decision based on the majority the decision was a disaster! What comes to mind is the majority of people wanting a human king instead of God (cf. 1 Samuel 8:1-9).

    I read an article that was written a long time ago on the whole subject of equating God’s will with the majority and this is what the author wrote:

    A recent church newsletter proudly announced the results of a nearly unanimous church vote on a particular issue saying it had “confirmed God’s clear direction” in the matter. But did it? As I read through the article, I couldn’t help but think of a few headlines that might have appeared in church newsletters going back to ancient times . . .







    You see the point, of course. The majority is not always right. In fact, there are times when the majority is dead wrong. Ten of the twelve spies sent out to explore the Promised Land advised against invasion–and paid for having spread a “bad report” with their lives (Numbers 14:36-7, cf. 13:32).

    It seems that most modern-day churchgoers have become so accustomed to “having their say” in matters outside the church, that the concept of submission within its walls seems almost foreign. Lacking a clear direction from God or the spiritual maturity to discern it, individuals tend to orchestrate their own agenda and focus on what seems good and right to them.

    Right is still right even if everyone is against it. Wrong is still wrong, even if everyone is for it. Same is true in regards to same sex 'marriage'. Even if every single Bishop, Priest and Deacon believed it were right, and every Anglican lay person believed it was right and one lay person said "No it is wrong". That one person would be right.

    As for trying to eisegete the Scriptures to endorse same sex relationships, not once ever does Scripture convey any sexual activity outside of the heterosexual marriage in a positive light.
    Sound hermeneutical application comes from when we filter and discern our culture through the lens of Holy Scripture, to do the opposite (fitler and discern Holy Scripture through the lens of culture) leads to a false gospel, and elevates human reasoning above the Lordship of Christ.

  27. If you have not read "The Gay Gospels" by Keith Sharpe, it is worth looking at as an example of what can be achieved by eisegesis. Be warned, it borders on being blasphemous, but we do need to be aware of the use some are making of Scripture. The danger is when comments like this one are put into effect.

    "That being said, the book is based on the work of scholars yet written in plain English. A pastor or spiritual director could recommend this book for any oppressed by bad teaching and unable to quieten their conscience."

    The link to Amazon is here;-