The Archbishop and the Bible – A response to Archbishop Barry Morgan’s Presidential address

  1. Introduction

The purpose of Archbishop Morgan’s Presidential address to Governing Body in the Church in Wales on 14 September 2016[1] is to justify the decision made by the church’s bishops to issue prayers that can be said with those in same-sex relationships. More specifically, it seeks to justify the claim that ‘the bishops have taken the step they have because we took seriously what the Bible has to say in trying to discern the will of God.’

The aim of this paper is to show why the archbishop’s attempt to justify the bishops’ action does not succeed.

  1. The Archbishop’s overall view of the Bible

The archbishop’s overall view of the Bible is set out towards the start of his address in the following words:

‘The Bible is not one book but a series of books and within those books, written by a variety of authors, are a number of different perspectives but also shifts in perspective about particular topics. Biblical texts are not God’s words, dictated by Him to human authors, but are the inspired response to revelation. The response is a human response however and cannot be regarded as being identical with that revelation especially since parts of the Bible are at variance with other parts.’

From the standpoint of traditional Christian theology the response that needs to be given to this statement about the nature of the Bible is both ‘yes’ and ‘no.’

We need to say ‘yes’ because it is indeed the case that the Bible is a collection of sixty six books written by a variety of different orders, that these books contain a variety of theological perspectives and that, as 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21 tell us, they constitute an inspired response to revelation.

On the other hand, we need to say ‘no’ because the reason that the Church has identified these sixty six books as a single ‘canon,’ or authoritative rule of faith and conduct, is because of a conviction that in spite of having a variety of different authors and containing a variety of different theological perspectives these books are a unity. In spite of their diversity they are God’s ‘word,’ saying exactly what God intended them to say, and as such give us a consistent message from God telling us how what we should believe and how we should behave.

In the words of the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566:

‘We believe and confess the Canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.

And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing either be added to or taken from the same (Deut. iv.2; Rev. xxii.18,19).’[2]

Because of this conviction that the Bible as whole is the authoritative word of God the Anglican reformers insisted that it was not legitimate for a church to ‘so expound one place of Scripture, that it may be repugnant to another’ (Article XX). As Oliver O’Donovan explains, the reason that they were insistent about this point was because:

‘Unless we can think that Scripture is readable as whole, that it communicates a unified outlook and perspective, we cannot attribute doctrinal authority to it, but only to some part of it at the cost of some other part. The authority of Scripture, then, presupposes the possibility of a harmonious reading; correspondingly, a church which presumes to offer an un-harmonious or diversifying reading may be supposed to have in mind an indirect challenge to the authority of Scripture itself.’[3]

In his statement about the nature of the Bible quoted above Archbishop Morgan does indeed challenge the authority of Scripture. This is because although he holds that the biblical writers were inspired by God he refuses to identify what they say with God’s revelation of himself as the Christian tradition has done when it has said that the Bible is God’s word.  For him the words of Scripture are simply human words which ‘cannot be regarded as being identical with that revelation especially since parts of the Bible are at variance with other parts’

Examples of alleged variance in Scripture

For Archbishop Morgan, then, the way in which some parts of the Bible are at variance with other parts of it is a primary reason why the Bible as a whole cannot be regarded as authoritative divine revelation. In his address he give four examples of such alleged variance.

  • The first is the way in which the killing of the house of Ahab by Jehu which is viewed positively in 2 Kings 9 and 10 is at variance with the condemnation of Jehu’s action in Hosea 1:4 and by Jesus’ teaching about non-retaliation and forgiveness in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • The second is the way in which the exclusion of those born of illicit or incestuous unions and both Moabites and those of Moabite descent from the worshipping community of Israel in Deuteronomy 23:1-4 is at variance with the incestuous and Moabite ancestry of both David and Jesus and with the inclusion of Gentiles into the early church.
  • The third example is the way in which the prohibition of eunuchs from being part of worshipping community of Israel in Deuteronomy 23:1 is at variance with the welcome extended to eunuchs by God in Isaiah 56:4-5 and the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40.
  • The fourth example is the way in which the biblical passages which support slavery are at variance with the message of liberation proclaimed by Jesus in Luke 4:18 and with the way in which the Bible as a whole is ‘opposed to oppression, domination and abuse.’

Archbishop Morgan draws three conclusions from these examples.

First, he says, they show:

‘…that within the Scriptures themselves, there are radical shifts in understanding in what it means to discern the will of God. It absolutely will not do to quote texts from parts of the Bible in a simplistic way without reference to their contexts. One has to treat the Bible as a whole and discern, often through stories, the direction in which it is leading.’

Secondly, they mean:

‘…one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting Scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned. Scripture itself is diverse and theological views held in some biblical books are reshaped in the light of experience by other writers.’

Thirdly, they mean that we need to be open to the continuing guidance of the Spirit:

‘As the Jesus of St John’s Gospel says: ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.’ John 16 12-13

Or to quote Pope Francis at last year’s Synod of Bishops: ‘The temptation is to hostile inflexibility, of closing oneself within the written word (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, the God of surprises, the Spirit.’’

What are we to make of these claims about variance within Scripture?

If we look carefully at these four alleged examples of variance within Scripture none of them is convincing.

Example 1

If we turn to the first example, we find that it is true that in 2 Kings the killing of the house of Ahab at Jezreel by Jehu is described as being commended by God. In 2 Kings 9:7 the prophet Elisha tells Jehu on behalf of God: ‘And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge on Jez′ebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord.’  Similarly, after the killing has taken place God says to Jehu: ‘Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.’

This commendation appear at first sight to be contradicted by what is said in Hosea 1:4. In this verse, according to the translation in the RSV, God tells the prophet to call his son Jezreel: ‘for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.’  According to Archbishop Morgan this means that Hosea believed ‘Jehu behaved atrociously and should have been punished by God’ and shows that Hosea had ‘opened his heart to a new understanding of God as a being who would not sanction mass murder.’

However, even if one translates Hosea 1:4 in the way that the RSV does, Archbishop Morgan’s interpretation of its meaning does not follow. (a) It does not say that God should have punished Jehu and (b) it does not say that God would never permit mass killing given that it is predicting that God will put an end to the kingdom of Israel by means of military action by the Assyrians.

Furthermore, the RSV translation of Hosea 1:4 is arguably misleading. A better translation is that offered by Douglas Stuart in his Word commentary on Hosea: ‘Yahweh said to him: ‘Name him ‘Jezreel,’’ because it will not be long before I apply the bloodshed of Jezreel to the family of Jehu, and then destroy the kingdom of the family of Israel.’ [4]  On this translation of the verse ‘Jezreel’ is a symbol of God’s judgment and what the verse means is, to quote Stuart again, ‘In the same way that Jehu in 842 had annihilated a dynasty famed for its long history of oppression and apostasy, so Yahweh himself will now put an end to the Jehu dynasty because it, in turn, has grown hopelessly corrupt.’[5] This reading of Hosea 1:4 makes sense in terms of the message of Hosea as a whole, which is concerned with the current day unfaithfulness and immorality of Israel and its ruling house and the judgment that this will bring about rather than with delayed punishment for what happened in 842.

Seeing Jesus’ words about non-retaliation and forgiveness in the Sermon on the Mount as showing that he saw God in a ‘totally different way’ from 2 Kings 9 and 10 is also unsustainable. This is because the gospels make clear that like the author of 2 Kings 9 and 10 Jesus believed in a terrible and comprehensive judgment of God upon human sin, which he taught would take two forms, a final judgment at the end of time and a more immediate temporal judgment on Israel involving the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by the armies of Rome (see for example Matthew 23:37-25:46). Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount needs, therefore, to be seen along the lines of St. Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:19: ‘Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’’ and seen in this way it is entirely compatible with the theology of 2 Kings 9 and 10.

Example 2

If we look at the second example we find that there are a number of problems with what Archbishop Morgan says.

First it is not entirely clear that the Hebrew word mamzer used in Deuteronomy 23:2 refers to the offspring of incestuous unions as Archbishop Morgan’s argument requires. The word only occurs twice in the Old Testament (the other use being Zechariah 9:6) and its meaning is disputed. An alternative suggestion is that it refers to ‘children born to cult prostitutes.’[6]  If this interpretation is correct it has absolutely nothing to do with the ancestry of either David or Jesus since none of their ancestors were cult prostitutes.

Secondly, even if the view that it does refer to the offspring of incestuous unions is the correct one this does not exclude those descended from either Lot’s daughters or from Tamar.

According to Deuteronomy the exclusion of the Ammonites and Moabites from the ‘assembly of the Lord’ has nothing to do with their descent from the incestuous union between Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38) as the Archbishop suggests. Deuteronomy 23:4 makes it clear that the reason for their exclusion was their attitude to the people of Israel at the time of the Exodus: ‘because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Be′or from Pethor of Mesopota′mia, to curse you.’  The fact that both David and Jesus were descended from the incest of Lot and his daughters through their Moabite ancestry would therefore not in itself be a bar to their being members of the Israelite worshipping community. This argument is a red herring.

Similarly, according to Deuteronomy the incest between Judah and Tamar recorded in Genesis 38 did not bar the members of the tribe of Judah from being full members of the people of Israel. We know this because in Deuteronomy 27:12 and 33:7 the members of the tribe of Judah are specifically mentioned as members of the people of Israel. The fact that both David and Jesus were of the tribe of Judah therefore does not mean that they come under the scope of Deuteronomy 23:2. This argument too is a red herring.

The reason why in neither case is incestuous ancestry an issue is because the legislation in Deuteronomy 23 is prospective rather than retrospective. Those who are the descendants of incestuous unions entered into prior to the formation of the people of Israel and its settlement in the land of promise do not come under the scope of this legislation. God makes the people of Israel his people in spite of the sexual impurity of their ancestors, but he requires sexual purity in Israel thereafter. In the same way, in the New Testament those have engaged in sexual impurity are welcomed into the people of God, but they are expected to live according to God’s standards from then onwards (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-20).

Thirdly, the fact that both David and Jesus were descendants of Ruth who was a Moabite (Ruth 1:4) does not contradict Deuteronomy 23:3 because the ancestry of both was reckoned along the paternal line and therefore they were therefore full members of the Israelite worshipping community because they were the descendants of Obed (Ruth 4:18-22, Matthew 1:5-16).

Fourthly, it is not the case that when in Acts St. Peter associates with Cornelius and his household and baptises them (Acts 10) this means, as Archbishop Morgan says, that ‘the Holiness Code of Leviticus is set aside in favour of a belief in a God who accepts impure people.’  The point is rather that through the work of Jesus God has now made the Gentiles pure. That is why St. Peter is told in in Acts 10:15 ‘What God has cleansed, you must not call common.’

Example 3

Moving on to the third example we find that it is the case that Deuteronomy 23:1 excludes eunuchs when it declares that ‘He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.’

It is also the case the Isaiah 56:4-5 eunuchs are welcomed by God. As Archbishop Morgan notes, in these verses God says ‘Eunuchs who keep my Sabbath and choose the things that please me and hold fast my Covenant, I will welcome to my house and give them within my walls a monument and a name better than my own sons and daughters.’

Finally it is the case that in Acts 8 the Ethiopian eunuch is included into God’s people through baptism.

However, neither of the two later examples contradict what is said in Deuteronomy. This is because while Deuteronomy gives instructions relating to the constitution of the people of Israel under the Mosaic covenant, in Isaiah 56 the prophet looks forward to ‘an eschatological time of salvation when the eunuchs will be accepted into the congregation of the Lord and will be given special honor and recognition within God’s house.’ [7]

The witness of the New Testament is that this eschatological time of salvation in which both foreigners and eunuchs will be included rather than excluded from God’s people has arrived through the ministry of Jesus and that is why the Ethiopian in Acts 8, who is both a foreigner and a eunuch, can nevertheless become part of God’s people.

Example 4

In relation to what the Bible says about slavery, which is Archbishop Morgan’s fourth and final example, the point to note is not that there is ‘overwhelming biblical support for slavery’ which is at variance with Jesus’ proclamation of liberation for the oppressed and the general biblical opposition to oppression, domination and abuse.

The point is instead that there is a consistent trajectory of thought throughout the Bible that critiques slavery even while accepting the reality of its existence. To quote Robert Gagnon:

‘One can discern a trajectory within the Bible that critiques slavery. Front and center in Israelite memory was its remembrance of God’s liberation from slavery in Egypt (e.g., Exod 22:21; 23:9; Lev 25:42, 55; Deut 15:15). Christian memory adds the paradigmatic event of Christ’s redemption of believers from slavery to sin and people (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; and often). Consequently, Israelite law put various restrictions on enslaving fellow Israelites—mandatory release dates, the right of near-kin redemption, not returning runaway slaves, and insisting that Israelites not be treated as slaves—while Paul in 1 Cor 7:21-23 and Phlm 16 regarded liberation from slavery as at least a penultimate good.’[8]

When the Church Fathers, the theologians of the Middle Ages, and the abolitionists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries opposed slavery as such and sought its abolition what they were doing was developing and applying the logic of this trajectory.

The point just made also highlights the fact that Archbishop Morgan is also mistaken when he says that for nineteen centuries the Church ‘accepted and defended’ slavery. The truth is rather that Christian influence led to the development of an almost universal belief that enslaving people was wrong and an almost total abolition of slavery within Christendom by the end of the Middle Ages. Slavery then re-emerged in the form of the enslavement of Indians and Africans from the fifteenth century onwards (in spite of vigorous opposition from the Papacy) and it was this re-emergent slavery that was challenged by the Protestant abolitionists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

An examination of the four examples cited by the archbishop thus fails to support his claim that: ‘within the Scriptures themselves, there are radical shifts in understanding in what it means to discern the will of God’ or his claim that ‘Scripture itself is diverse and theological views held in some biblical books are reshaped in the light of experience by other writers.’ The examples that he has chosen simply do not prove either claim.

Archbishop Morgan is correct when he says that we have to ‘treat the Bible as a whole and discern often through stories the direction in which it is leading.’ Because the Bible as a whole is God’s word and gives part of its teaching in stories then we do have to do as the archbishop says. However, what the archbishop does is precisely not read the Bible as a whole. Rather his approach is to read it as a collection of contradictory parts between which we have to pick and choose.

Furthermore, even if it was the case that the Bible is internally diverse in the way he suggests this would not contradict the claim that ‘that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting Scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned.’  There could theoretically be one traditional, true and orthodox way of handling the diversity in Scripture besides which all other interpretations are simply examples of culturally conditioned revisionism. Even granted his premises his argument thus fails to stand up.

Finally, the archbishop is correct to suggest that we should be open to the guidance of the Spirit. This is something that Christian theology has always taught. However, being guided by the Spirit cannot mean being led to affirm things that are contrary to what Scripture teaches. This is because this would mean that God was contradicting himself which would be inconsistent with his nature as a God who is totally truthful and consistent in all that he says and does (see for example Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17-18).

Archbishop Morgan on the Bible and same-sex relationships

Archbishop Morgan concludes his paper by applying his argument to the issue of same-sex relationships.

He begins by saying that ‘taking the Bible as a whole and taking what it says very seriously may lead us into a very different view of same-sex relationships than the one traditionally upheld by the Church.’

He then gives four arguments in support of this statement

First, he says that the biblical passages that refer to same-sex relationships ‘are not about committed, loving, faithful monogamous relationships with persons of the same sex but about something totally different.’

He gives two examples to illustrate this point

  1. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 is not, he argues, about homosexuality, but about ‘an abuse of hospitality and what one writer calls ‘an attempted gang rape by a mob against two outsiders who are Lot’s guests.’ Indeed Ezekiel says Lot’s relatives were punished primarily because they refused to help the poor and needy.’
  2. The passages in the New Testament that are ‘often cited’ are ‘not about loving, committed, faithful relationships between people of the same sex, but about pederasty and male prostitution.’

Secondly, affirming same-sex relationships does not means ‘abandoning the Bible,’ but rather ‘trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus, who went out of His way to minister to those who were excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by His society because they were regarded as impure and unholy by the religious leaders of His day, either because of their gender, age, morality or sexuality.’

Thirdly, we need to take into account what we ‘what we now know about same-sex attraction in terms of psychology and biology and the experience of homosexual people.’  As he sees it, what we learn from these sources is that ‘sexual orientation is not a matter of personal choice but of how people are’

Finally, he quotes Andrew Davison’s statement:

‘We are most truly ourselves when we live for others and we gain life not by clutching to it but by giving it away. Living for others underlines the truest meaning of sexuality. Christians have discovered that most people flourish best when this living for others finds its focus in a commitment to one other person: when a couple make a lifelong commitment within which sex properly belongs.’

Why, he asks ‘would we want to deny such a possibility to those attracted to their own gender? ’

None of these arguments is convincing

Why the archbishop is wrong about the Bible and same-sex relationships.

In response to the first argument, the first point to note is that his account of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 conflates three separate revisionist interpretations of the story, all of which are problematic.

  • The idea that that the story is simply about the ‘abuse of hospitality’ ignores the sexual element in the story in which the word ‘know’ (Genesis 19:5 and 8) means ‘have sex with.’
  • The idea that the story is about the attempted ‘gang rape’ of Lot’s guests ignores the fact that the Hebrew terms for rape are not used in Genesis 19. All that the text tells us is that the men of Sodom wanted to have sexual relations with Lot’s visitors. In the story that fact alone is sufficient to establish that Sodom was a gravely sinful placing deserving divine punishment.
  • The idea that Ezekiel 16:49-50 sees the sin of Sodom as being a failure to care for the poor and needy ignores the fact that the term ‘committed an abomination’ used in verse 50 refers to engaging in same sex activity as it does in Leviticus 20:13 where the identical phrase is used.

In addition there is no linguistic evidence to support the contention that Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 1:10 refer to pederasty and male prostitution. The terms used are general terms for same-sex sexual activity that cannot be restricted to pederasty or prostitution.

The overall claim that the biblical references to homosexuality do not cover ‘committed, loving, faithful, monogamous relationships’ ignores that fact that (a) such relationships were known in the ancient world (and therefore would have been known to the biblical writers) and (b) that the Bible prohibits all forms of same-sex sexual relationship because they go against God’s creation of human beings as male and female (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:18-23) and his creation of heterosexual marriage as the context for sexual activity (Genesis 2:24).

In response to the second argument, it is true that Jesus did welcome those who were marginalised and excluded such as the ‘tax collectors and sinners’ mentioned in Matthew 9:9-13 and Luke 5:27-32. However, we also know:

  • that Jesus founded his sexual ethic on the fact that God created human beings as male and female and joined them together in marriage as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2 (Matthew 19:1-9, Mark 10:2-12);
  • that Jesus did not reject the teaching of the Mosaic law on sexual ethics, but rather intensified it by including desire as well as action and by taking a stricter line on divorce (Matthew 5:27-32);
  • that the Gospels tell us that Jesus included porneia (a catch all term that included not only adultery, but also incest, homosexuality and bestiality) as one of those things that renders an individual unclean in the sight of God (Matthew 5:19, Mark 7:21). By using this term Matthew and Mark are testifying that Jesus regarded homosexuality as something that made people unclean before God.

These three known facts together do not leave any space for the idea that Jesus approved homosexuality.

In response to the third argument, all that we actually know from psychology, biology and people’s experience is that a small minority of the population experience exclusively same-sex attraction either throughout their life or for some part of it. Knowing this:

  • does not tell us anything about the moral status of such desire, or of same-sexual activity;
  • does not mean that people are not free to choose whether or not to engage in same-sex sexual activity;
  • does not contradict the teaching of the Bible that people ought to not to choose to engage in same-sex sexual activity.

What we know from sources other than the Bible about the nature of same-sex attraction therefore does not mean that we need to either re-interpret or ignore what the Bible says about the matter.

It is also important to note that there are two issues to do with extra-biblical sources of information that the archbishop chooses to ignore.

First of all, he ignores what natural theology can teach us about the relationship between sex and marriage.

If we consider the human race we find that it is a made up of two sexes, male and female, and is biologically designed to reproduce through sexual intercourse. Human beings are so made by their Creator that sexual intercourse, sexual pleasure, and sexual reproduction are meant to go together. To use technical language, sexual relationships are meant to be both ‘unitive’ (bringing a man and woman together) and ‘generative’ (open to the possibility of procreation).  From this perspective sex and marriage belong together because a marriage is a sexual union between two people of the opposite sex that is both unitive and potentially generative and its monogamous and life-long character is best suited for ensuring that the couple involved care for each other and for any children that are a result of their union

Viewed from this perspective the study of the created order supports rather than contradicts biblical teaching.

Secondly, he ignores the large amount of evidence that says that involvement in same-sex sexual activity is harmful both to people’s physical and mental well-being. In the words of Thomas Schmidt:

‘Those who wish to promote a revisionist view of homosexual behaviour would rather that we do not imagine anything beyond, in L William Countryman’s words, ‘an entire class of human beings [who have the] right peaceably and without harming others to pursue the kind of sexuality that corresponds to their nature.’ But no honest look at current scientific research allows us to view homosexual practice as peaceable and harmless. For the vast majority of homosexual men, and for a significant number of homosexual women – even apart from the deadly plague of AIDS- sexual behavior is obsessive, psychopathological and destructive to the body. If there were no specific biblical principles to guide sexual behaviour, these considerations alone would constitute a compelling argument against homosexual practice.’[9]

Archbishop Morgan’s final quotation from Andrew Davison is problematic because it fails to recognise that what Christians have actually discovered throughout the history of the Church is that all people flourish best when they live in obedience to God’s will as revealed in Scripture, even when this means saying no to their fallen sexual desires. This being the case, the question that revisionists such as Archbishop Morgan have to answer is why do they not want those with same-sex attraction to flourish in this way?

Conclusion

What this paper has shown is that Archbishop Morgan’s address fails to demonstrate either that the Bible as a whole is at variance with itself and therefore cannot be seen in its entirety as God’s revelation, or that it is legitimate to set aside the Church’s traditional understanding of what the Bible has to say about same-sex relationships. It thus fails to justify the Welsh bishops’ decision to approve prayers to mark same-sex relationships.

M B Davie 8.9.16

[1] Presidential Address- Governing Body September 2016, full text at http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/structure/bishops/sermons-and-addresses-archbishop-barry-morgan/presidential-address-governing-body-september-2016/

[2] The Second Helvetic Confession, 1566, Chapter 1 ‘Of the Holy Scripture Being The True Word of God,’ text in J H Leith (ed), Creeds of the Churches, revd. ed., Oxford: Blackwell, 1973, p.132.

[3] Oliver O’Donovan, On the Thirty Nine Articles, Exeter: Paternoster, 1986, p.57.

[4] Quoted in ‘Good Question …did God like what Jehu did or not?’  at http://christianthinktank.com/qjehu.html

[5] Ibid.

[6] P C Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987, p. 297.

[7] Richard M Davidson, Flame of Yahweh – Sexuality in the Old Testament, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007, p.335.

[8] Robert Gagnon, ‘Slavery, Homosexuality, and the Bible: A Response[‘ at http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoKrehbielResponse.pdf

For a detailed account of the biblical trajectory in relation to slavery see William Web, Slaves, Women and Homosexuals, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

[9] Thomas Schmidt, Straight and Narrow?, Downers Grove: IVP, 1995, p.131 and ch.6 as a whole. As an example of what Schmidt is talking about, the Journal of the American Medical Association has reported that the recent National Health Interview Survey in the US shows that ‘[Homosexuals] were more likely to report impaired physical and mental health, heavy alcohol consumption, and heavy cigarette use.’ See ‘Study: Higher health risks for homosexuals’ (http://www.gopusa.com/?p=12006?omhide=true)  see also See also Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, Nashville: Abingdon, 2001, pp.471-485 and Bill Muehlenberg, Strained Relations, the Challlenge of Homosexuality, Melbourne: Culture Watch Books 2014, ch. 2.

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One thought on “The Archbishop and the Bible – A response to Archbishop Barry Morgan’s Presidential address

  1. This is an outstanding contribution and deserves to be widely read. It shows that, whilst the ‘trajectory’ approach to the Bible must lead to a negative attitude to slavery because that institution pertains to the Fall of mankind, pursuing an alleged biblical trajectory cannot justify a revisionist approach to marriage and to human sexuality because our Lord Jesus made clear that the heterosexual nature of marriage and sexual love pertains to God’s creation,

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