Homosexual priest reinstated in Diocese of Toronto

To coincide with Toronto’s Pride Week, James Ferry has been reinstated as a priest in the Diocese of Toronto: 20 years ago he was dismissed because of his sexual activity with another man.  Nowadays, of course, the only priests in danger of being suspended are evangelicals who are not prepared to compromise their principles – like J. I. Packer. Such is the march of progress in the Anglican Church of Canada.

From here:

‘You Belong’ ― Gay priest Jim Ferry reinstated after 20 years as outcast

On Sunday, June 26th, 2011 the Rev. Jim Ferry’s license as priest was reinstated by Archbishop Colin Johnson of the Diocese of Toronto, and he was appointed Honorary Assistant of Holy Trinity, Trinity Square. It is 20 years since he was made an outcast by the previous Bishop of Toronto, Terence Finlay, for being in a same sex relationship. His outing and subsequent public trial in a Bishop’s Court garnered worldwide media attention.

Jim’s sermon “Pride and Prejudice” marked the opening of Toronto’s Pride Week celebrations at Holy Trinity, and highlighted the Pride 2011 theme: You Belong.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by David. Bookmark the permalink.

13 thoughts on “Homosexual priest reinstated in Diocese of Toronto

  1. Watching the selfish trashing an institution they did not build in this manner is quite amusing, if you are cynical. Of course it leaves honest people with no good choices. I do feel sorry for the priests who dedicated their lives to Christ via this organisation, only to discover that those who run it think insulting Christ is clever.

  2. No insult to Christ my friend. Christ called all to His Father and never once spoke out against homosexuals. But Christ did speak out against divorce. And your church is full of divorced people who have remarried – against the teaching of Christ How ironic that speak out against something that Christ himself did not condemn, but you tolerate that which Christ specifically condemns. Who’s the hypocrit?

  3. That old saw again? Paul allows for remarriage after divorce under certain limited circumstances. Christ says he came not to abolish the law, but fulfill it. The 39 Articles tell us that the moral laws of the OT are binding on Christians. Next point?

  4. You don’t get my point do you? Christ was emphatic, no divorce. Yet we have found a way to make it permissable. I think it has to do with the fact that hetrosexuals are looking for a “way out.” So why do we find the union of homosexuals objectionable?

    Wait ten years Kate and same sex marriage will be an “old saw” as you say. For many in my generation it already is.

  5. I do get your point, but the way you are interpreting the bible is flawed, and you are making an incorrect assumption about how we are interpreting the bible. We haven’t “found a way” to make it “permissable”, we are trying to submit ourselves to God. Paul’s writing is scripture. He allowed for divorce and remarriage under certain limited circumstances (and so did Jesus, actually, in the case of marital infedility.) The question becomes, how do we obey these teachings? There is no case, ever, of same sex sexual knowing being permitted in scripture. That is the difference.

  6. Kate,

    I’m going to respond with a posting I recently made on the AE blog. I think what is clear is “how” scripture is interpreted.

    English versions of the Bible are translations from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The wording has been filtered through the mind-set and prejudices of various sets of translators. One must carefully examine the original texts from the point of view of ancient Israeli and early Christian societies in order to determine their precise meaning.

    Therefore, some sexual acts are sinful; others are not. It depends mainly on the participants’ relationship, not by the specific act itself. Safe heterosexual or homosexual sex within a truly consenting and committed relationship is not sinful. Author Chris Levan sees this reflected in the Bible. He writes: “The best response that scripture can give with regard to homosexuality is the declaration that our Creator is very often not concerned about the ‘who’ of relationship so much as the ‘how.’ It simply asks if the relationship is functioning according to principles of justice and dignity? Does the partnership demonstrate mutual trust and compassion? If so, it is blessed by God.”

    The original passages in the Hebrew Scriptures usually do not refer to homosexual acts in general, but to specific immoral behaviors, such as rape, ritual sex in Pagan temples, and prostitution:

    Genesis 19: Other biblical passages about Sodom identify the sin of the city as being unresponsive to the poor and needy, and being uncharitable towards strangers. The only obvious sexual sin of Sodom was a desire to rape strangers.

    Leviticus 18 & 20: Male ritual sexual activity in Pagan temples is clearly prohibited. Such behavior was a common practice within the Canaanite fertility religion. The practice was also taken up by some ancient Israelites.

    Deuteronomy 23: Prostitution, both heterosexual and homosexual is always condemned.

    Judges 19: A duplicate of the Genesis story.

    Clearly there was no understanding of sexual orientation in the culture and time when scripture was written. There was not even a word for ‘homosexuality’ or ‘homosexual’ in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, the original languages of scripture. There are biblical references that condemn same-sex sexual behavior, but they are all within contexts related to violence, idolatry, promiscuity and exploitation. Careful reading within the historical setting reveals that it is the violence, idolatry, promiscuity and exploitation that is condemned, not the same-sex sexual behavior. The same condemnation is given to opposite-sex sexual behavior that is violent, idolatrous, promiscuous and exploitative.

    The Bible says little about homosexual feelings.

    The Bible says nothing about the concept of sexual orientation for the same reason as it does not mention television sets and airplanes. All were unknown in biblical times. The concept of orientation dates only from the late 19th century and only began to be seriously investigated in the middle of the 20th century.

    There may be as many as three references in the Bible to committed homosexual relationships, none of which was condemned. But there is no absolute proof that they were sexually active.

    Paul’s Epistles in the Christian Scriptures considered at least some male and female homosexual acts to be forbidden, but it is unclear precisely which acts are included. He may have been referring to: temple prostitution, ritual sex activities in Pagan temples, heterosexuals who engaged in homosexual acts against their basic nature, child sexual abuse, group sexual orgies, or all people who commit any homosexual acts.

    Paul was certainly aware of sexual orgies in Pagan temples, including both heterosexual and homosexual encounters. He would have been aware of the practice of male adults keeping a boy (often a slave) for sexual purposes. These may have been the only forms of same-gender sex that he knew of. He did not appear to make any references in his writings to consensual, committed homosexual relationships. He may well have not known of any; he may not have known that any could exist.

    Paul is not necessarily a useful guide for ethics and morals. Elsewhere in his writing, he was sexist: For example, he condemned women preaching (1 Corinthians 14:34). A passage in 1 Timothy 2:11 condemned the wearing gold or pearls. Paul accepted and did not criticize the institution of slavery (Philemon 1:15 to 16). Many Christians feel that some of his writings reflect his own prejudices are not a particularly helpful guide today.

    Of the many hundreds of Jesus’ instructions and prohibitions recorded in the gospels, few if any have a sexual component and none deal with homosexuality.

    In one narrow instance is divorce prohibited by Christ. But the fact that nearly 2 out of every 5 end in divorce suggests that there are a myriad other reasons for divorce, yet the church permits it.

    Paul spoke out against women priests, yet we got over that hurdle.

    So Kate, why can you find both divorce and women clergy tolerable, but not the union of committed same-sex relations? All things being equal, and viewing things through the lens that you do, you should have no problem accepting the latter in light of the former.

  7. One must carefully examine the original texts from the point of view of ancient Israeli and early Christian societies in order to determine their precise meaning.

    Uh, I think Bible translators would attest that this is exactly what they strive to do.

    Therefore, some sexual acts are sinful; others are not. It depends mainly on the participants’ relationship, not by the specific act itself.

    I have no idea what your “therefore” is there for. It doesn’t logically follow from anything.

  8. Eph 3:20 [#6],
    The interpretation of the passages you reference is contrary to centuries of prior scholarship, contrary to the views of most of today’s evangelical scholars and translators and contrary to the views of 60 million Anglicans and, indeed, the majority of Christians.

    You refer to “wording” being filtered through the “mindset” and prejudices of translators; don’t you think it more likely that the interpretations you believe true are themselves a victim of just that – reading Scripture filtered through contemporary prejudices?

    It seems to me just a little too convenient that a culture obsessed with normalising homosexual behaviour manages to extract a justification for its actions from passages that, until they were scrutinised by a gay-obsessed church, were believed to clearly state that homosexual activity is not normal but sinful.

  9. I read your comment on the Essentials blog, and thought that Gordon refuted it very well. It is simply not possible or plausible to assume that Paul knew nothing about same sex relationships,.

    Divorce and remarragge is biblically permissable in the case of infedelity and in the cases that Paul stated. Nowhere is divorce *without a remarriage* forbidden in the NT. Further, ANiC has ver strict guidelines on the remarriage of divorced people.

    Women pastors is thornier, and I believe that it is something that Christians can agree to disagree on.

    I seek to submit myself to God’s word, not to “get around it”.

  10. Eph 3:20,
    A few other points:

    Paul is not necessarily a useful guide for ethics and morals

    That sentence reveals the root of why we will probably never agree. I regard it as axiomatic that the Bible is God’s propositional revelation to man, so I take what Paul says about morals in the Bible seriously. In common with other liberally minded Christians, you don’t share my axiomatic starting point – at least, you don’t appear to. Both approaches have their difficulties but, it seems to me that, for a Christian, those created by your position are more severe.

    On the question of divorce and women priests, I agree with Kate. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that you are correct and we have it wrong: if the Bible really does teach that divorce and women priests are impermissible under all circumstances, your argument is this:

    Since ANiC is incorrect about divorce and women priests, it has no business taking a stand against same-sex blessings: better to be wrong about all three rather than just two. That is a pretty daft argument.

    As for same sex marriage being an “old saw” in 10 years: About 10 years ago Ralph Spence, the then bishop of Niagara, gave a talk in which he declared with no little conviction: “mark my words, the fuss about same-sex blessings will be forgotten in 10 years.”

Leave a Reply