Editorial Blog

Dave Doveton is the Senior Editor of this website. These articles are mostly concerned with authentic, biblically orthodox Christian faith and its interaction with the Anglican Church, especially the Church of England, and the wider culture. Please press the ‘Refresh’ or “reload’ button to ensure you see the latest blog post at the top of this column.

The Scripture and Unbelieving Church Leaders

Posted by on Sep 7, 2023 in Editorial Blog | Comments Off on The Scripture and Unbelieving Church Leaders

The Scripture and Unbelieving Church Leaders

By Dave Doveton.

The recent Times survey in which a small portion of Church of England clerics were asked to give their opinions on a wide range of subjects – including sexual ethics and whether they thought England was still a Christian country – has resulted in a flood of commentary on the results. Some have questioned the methodology used in the survey, but it is clear that a considerable number of CofE clerics and bishops do not believe what the scriptures teach regarding sexual ethics.[i]

Dr Ian Paul, who has rightly highlighted the very flawed methodology of the survey goes on to make an important observation; “despite very clear statements about the doctrine of the C of E in canon law, despite the clarity of the Articles and Ordinal as founding documents, and despite the clear statement made by clergy at ordination that they believe and will expound the doctrine of the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it, it is very clear that many clergy do not. Because of this almost unbounded diversity of views within the C of E, we have lost the ability to speak clearly on any major issue — other than those where our views will not cause any real dissent.”[ii]

This survey came at a time when the newly elected Archbishop of Southern Queensland (Brisbane) Jeremy Greaves, came under scrutiny. He is not only an outspoken supporter of ‘same sex marriage’, but he also rejects key understandings of Christian truth as expressed in our creeds, saying he would be happy to ‘abandon the creeds’[iii].

This is not a mere wrestling with doubts which many of us from time to time as fallible human beings find ourselves doing, while we hold onto the foundational truths as expressed in the creeds. This is much more serious and consequential.

The writer to the Hebrews after recounting how the Israelites lapsed in their belief, in a characteristic admonition to his hearers sounds a severe warning “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”[iv]

The word translated ‘fall away’ is apostēnai, which involves a deviation from basic doctrinal truth. He has observed that some of this congregation risk the same heart condition that the early Israelites displayed. The danger of unbelief is that it has evil consequences, and further it is necessary for fellow believers to alert and call back by mutual exhortation those who have been hardened (v 13).

Unbelief is a recurring theme in John’s gospel. In John 5, when Jesus confronts the spiritual leaders of the day, the Pharisees, he outlines the real issue which lies behind their arguments against him.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.   I do not receive glory from people.  But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.  I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me.  If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.  How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?  Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” John 5:39-47 ESV

The Pharisees of course do not accept Jesus’ testimony about himself. They do not believe that he is the Christ, at the same time claiming their adherence to the TORAH and Mosaic teaching. According to Jesus, the root problem however is not their reading of scripture, but unbelief. Despite their confession of faith, they show that they do not in fact believe Moses’ writings (the TORAH) because they do not believe Jesus. Unbelief in Jesus and his word is related to unbelief in the Old Testament ethical law and by implication those who reject the sexual ethics of the Torah are in unbelief.

Furthermore, Jesus explains that the root of unbelief is a heart attitude.

How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek glory that comes from the only God?” John 5:44 ESV

Seeking human approval above honouring God is a sure sign of a heart problem. The Pharisees are not in the end honouring God, because they are concerned with human approval, not the approval of God. Paul expresses it well concerning those under the Old Covenant,

“But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” Romans 2:29 ESV.

Furthermore, from Jesus’ remarks, searching the scripture with a wrong heart will produce the wrong conclusions – as we see from those who produce revisionist readings of the TORAH – especially regarding the TORAH’s teaching on sexual behaviour. The Pharisees were respected leaders who were very religious and very pious but had constructed a religious system that did not ultimately spring from true belief and the desire to honour God. In Matthew 15 Jesus reveals how the Pharisees belief system sprung from false hearts.

“… Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘this people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:7-9 ESV

Most orthodox Anglicans would have been shocked by the Archbishop of York’s statement in a BBC interview where he confirmed his belief that sexual immorality was not sinful[v]. He is not the first churchman to have this opinion. In an essay examining Karl Barth’s personal life (who had a long-lasting affair with his secretary), Samuel Parkison notes how this theologian, learned and competent though he was, justified his own sin of adultery. To see why this could be, Parkison consults a great theologian from the past, Gregory of Nazianzus. Gregory wrote at length on the necessity for purity of heart when theologising because our spiritual state will affect our intellectual apprehension – for as Jesus stated, it is the pure in heart who shall see God.[vi]

“Discussion of theology is not for everyone,” he says, “but only for those who have been tested and have found a sound footing in study, and, more importantly, have undergone, or at the very least are undergoing, purification of body and soul. For one who is not pure to lay hold of pure things is dangerous, just as it is for weak eyes to look at the sun’s brightness.”[vii]

Religious systems can turn people away from Christ when they are constructed with an eye to appease contemporary cultural norms. They can seem very spiritual and pious, but are deceptive and lead people not to life, but death. To these, Jesus sounds a very severe warning,

But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” John 8:45-47 ESV

Leaders who seek human approval above the honouring of God is a theme that is also examined in the Old Testament. One instance of this is found in 1 Samuel where God proclaims through the prophet his sentence on Eli and his family.

“And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh?  Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’  Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed”1 Samuel 2:27-36, ESV.

Eli’s sons had offended God by their sexual immorality and by profaning the sacrificial offerings. However, we note that the judgement of God fell not only on his sons, but Eli as well. Because Eli was both their father and their spiritual leader responsibility fell on him. He was responsible not only for the irreverent cultic practices, but for honouring his sons above God. Eli had honoured his sons above honouring God, and this is ultimately why he is judged. The clear message here is that Christian leaders have a responsibility before God in several respects for those they oversee. They are responsible for their own behaviour, but also for the behaviour and doctrine of those under them.

In the Anglican Ordinal, priests promise to “…banish error in doctrine with sound teaching based on holy scripture”[viii]. Bishops in like manner, are obviously further called to exercise “authority and oversight”, which of course includes discipline.  Most Primates and Archbishops of the Global South – both affiliates and non-affiliates of GAFCON – have made their orthodox doctrinal positions clear and have maintained discipline. Archbishops have a certain moral authority if not canonical authority over other bishops – they are primus inter pares. Bishops have canonical authority over diocesan priests. If those who have authority sit on the fence or turn a blind eye where other bishops or priests are openly promoting false doctrine, they are dishonouring God. If they place collegiality or unity above their responsibility to banish error, they are dishonouring God. Allowing subordinates to continue leading the church astray is to dishonour God, and to risk standing before the Divine judge.


[i] Over half of those who replied to the survey (53%) support priests being allowed to conduct same-sex weddings if they wish; 59% would offer blessings to same-sex couples if allowed, 62% said they supported a change to the Church’s current opposition to premarital sex, and 64.5% said that the Church should change its teaching that “homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture”.


[ii] https://thecritic.co.uk/concern-trolling-the-clergy/

[iii] https://davidould.net/new-assistant-bishop-of-brisbane-is-happy-to-abandon-the-creed/

[iv] Hebrews 3:12

[v] See https://christianconcern.com/news/archbishop-of-york-says-sexual-immorality-is-not-sinful/

[vi] Matthew 5:8.

[vii] Parkison quoting St Gregory, What Are Theologians For? The Case of Karl Barth’s Adultery, The Gospel Coalition, February 2, 2023.

[viii] An Anglican Prayer Book, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, p588.


Theology of victimhood: a pastoral response

Posted by on Aug 17, 2023 in Culture, Editorial Blog, Victimhood | Comments Off on Theology of victimhood: a pastoral response

Theology of victimhood: a pastoral response

By Dave Doveton.

Victimhood: the condition of having been hurt, damaged, or made to suffer, especially when you want people to feel sorry for you because of this or use it as an excuse for something. (Cambridge Dictionary)


Liberal Protestantism has in recent times developed a theology[i], especially in the areas of socio-political discourse of victimhood. It can be summarised simply as “Jesus was a victim, and he identifies with all in society who are victims”.

I believe this simplistic meme leads to an incorrect understanding of Jesus’ mission, and it can have a disempowering, paralysing effect on people. Many people, conscious of their socio-economic status, compare themselves with those better off and develop a mindset of victimhood. This often leads to self-pity and the impulse to make others feel guilty for their situation.

I will first attempt a brief analysis of contemporary culture, and secondly offer what I believe to be a Christian response centred on a biblical anthropology and personal responsibility.

Was Christ a victim, and if so, in what sense was he a victim?

There is no Biblical Greek or Hebrew equivalent for our word ‘victim’, it does not appear in the Bible[ii]. The English word victim (from French victime) only came into usage to describe Christ in the mid 17th century[iii] – specifically as victim of our sins, and then later to describe people who suffered from criminal acts.  Theological reflection in earlier times saw Jesus as a victim in a metaphorical sense and in the language of sacrifice – he was the lamb of God, slain for us. It was a way of describing his vicarious suffering. Jesus laid down his life voluntarily  – he was not a victim in the sense of being subjected to the will of others non-voluntarily. Everything he did as a man he did freely; John records several times that Jesus indicated his voluntary and complete self-sacrifice, “I lay my life down and can take it up again anytime”.

This means that the only Christian “victimhood” must be vicarious (1 Peter 4:1ff, 2 Timothy 2:11-12) and not any other form (1 Peter 4:15).

Of course, we can be victims in the sense of suffering because of the actions and bad motives of others who wish to do us harm; we can be victims of crime, greed, drunken drivers, rapists or racists. We can also bear the brunt of unjust socio-economic and political structures. Furthermore, as Christians we have a duty to stand against all victimisation, oppression and injustice in society.

However, the concept of a victim group based on a perceived ‘victimhood’ has become a basis on which many people construct their identity. I believe the foundations of this in contemporary culture are to be found in the influence of cultural Marxism.

Marxist thought sees the problem of suffering in purely structural terms. Reality is defined only in materialistic and economic terms. Society is defined only in terms of power relationships; it consists of two groups of people – oppressor and oppressed. The origin of suffering is this social dynamic. Inherent also is the idea of utopia – if oppression can be removed then we would have a utopian society. The black and white defining the nature of the moral issue – the oppressed as the only ones who really suffer- leads ineluctably to the demonization of one group – those who are labelled as the oppressors. Another dynamic is introduced when we identify victims of suffering and oppression with Christ’s suffering and oppression. There is the danger of sanctifying them purely on the basis of their existential experience and allowing them to mask self-pity as goodness in order to elicit action or solidarity with their particular cause. The Catholic philosopher René Girard warns that this is a thinly veiled power grab, he says, “Victimism uses the ideology of concern for victims to gain political or economic or spiritual power.” – and further warns that “The most powerful anti-Christian movement is the one that takes over and “radicalizes” the concern for victims in order to paganize it.”[iv]

The influence of “victimhood ideology” is seen particularly in the contemporary western ‘cancel culture’ in which group identity is based on victimhood. Mary Eberstadt[v] offers us this definition of cancel culture,

Cancel culture basically says – you cannot understand me, and you are committing an injustice against me unless you are part of my victimised group.[vi]

Each self-identifying ‘victim group’ (eg women, gays, transgender, black) generates an ever evolving set of boundaries to define their group identity. Transgression of these boundaries leads to a public shaming and a scapegoating – even a demonization. Eberstadt notes that there is no room for redemption in this culture.


Biblical theology uncovers a much deeper, more fundamental and more complex answer to the problem of suffering. Its’ origin is of course firstly spiritual (which manifests in social structures but does not originate there).  It cannot be understood without reference to the transcendent creator of the universe and his purpose in creating human beings. In Genesis Chapter 3[vii], Adam and Eve disobey God and sin enters the world: their actions have consequences, one is the knowledge of good and evil and also the potential to do either good or evil to others. Sin, or disobedience to God has resulted in suffering entering the world as human potential. Another consequence is mortality and struggle. Thus, suffering is integral to the structure of self-conscious being. It is not primarily the consequence of sociological or political oppression (but becomes bound up with social and political structures as the whole creation is in bondage to corruption – Romans 8:21).

In the narratives that follow Genesis 3, the theme of human sin and its consequences are explored more fully. In several of these stories – Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers – we find two attitudes to reality that are highlighted. Professor Jordan Peterson has offered some powerful psychological insights that can help us observe these attitudes more clearly.

Cain and Abel: Genesis 4:1-16

Abel’s offering is accepted by God and he is rewarded. Cain is rejected. Cain reacts with disappointment (his face has fallen). Generally, the Bible does not suggest offerings operate automatically, but God’s acceptance of them is dependent on the heart attitude of the person making the offering.  Cain’s heart attitude is revealed by his reactions – he resented his brother and resisted God’s instruction. God tells Cain that his destiny is in his own hands, but resentfulness, anger and bitterness is controlling him, affecting his relationship with reality. He has projected his problem onto someone else instead of seeing it within. The epistle of 1John (3:12 to 15) expands on Cain’s behaviour and attitude; “…he practised unrighteousness and hated his brother”– he allowed sin to overwhelm him and eventually murders his brother.

In the story God tells Cain “…if you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at your door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 3:7) Hereby indicating that he must take responsibility for his life and the condition of his heart – he cannot blame others. Cain attempts to evade his responsibility “…am I my brother’s keeper?” (v9). Victimhood passively expects others to take responsibility for our lives.

Jacob and Esau: Genesis 25:19-27:44

Esau’s attitude and behaviour parallels that of Cain. He is called ‘unholy’ in Hebrews 12:16,17; this because he treated his spiritual inheritance as the firstborn as something he could sell – thus despising his inheritance and his calling. To despise what God has given us, even if we are born into very deprived conditions is to reveal an unholy attitude and without repentance, that person is in danger of both falling into bitterness and losing everything. The other side of the coin is to take for granted or even despise the priviledged position, the talents or the material wealth we have been blessed with, and misuse it.

Joseph and his brothers: Genesis 37-50

Likewise, Joseph receives preferential treatment. Texts throughout Genesis hint at his privileged status, even although he was the youngest brother. Genesis 37:12 is the first of these hints, which become clearer in later chapters. He was given a special coat by his father Jacob. This signified a special role – a status above his brothers, which was counter cultural, and his brothers would have continually seen this sign. His brothers hate him and conspire to murder him.

In these patriarchal narratives we see two views on reality contrasted – one person sees the worlds darkness, unpredictability, disadvantage etc (the bible does not say that these realities are in themselves good) and is angry and resentful. There is a consequent desire for revenge which leads to various actions like murder (Cain and Abel) plotting (Jacob and Esau) or selling into slavery (joseph and his brothers). The election by God of specific people causes offence and resentment, also the apparent unequal rewarding by God is also seen as unfair. The other person makes the most of his circumstances and the goods he is given and strives to make the best of his life.

Jesus himself examines these attitudes in several parables:

Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14ff  “well done, good and faithful servant” – these words of praise serve to highlight a key teaching in the parable that what matters is not how much you are given or how much you make, but faithfulness in using your potential and utilising your gifts. Those who are privileged in some way have a responsibility to those who are deprived. This is echoed by Paul who calls on those who are materially better off to be generous, sharing what they have and doing good (1 Timothy 6:5).

Parable of the Rewards: Matthew 20:1ff This parable of the labourers in the vineyard is told by Jesus in the context of Jesus’ prior challenge to the rich young ruler to give up everything. Peter, apparently in a bit of a self-pitying way, has asked what rewards the disciples will get for their own self-sacrifice. The parable seems to be a gentle rebuke to Peter. In the parable some workers protest the fact that the master gives all the same reward, despite the fact they worked longer hours. Jesus judges the man as having an ‘evil eye’. In other words, he judges God’s actions as unjust, because of his own self-interest, instead of being thankful for what he has – little or much. Jesus points out that God as owner of all is entitled to do what he chooses with what belongs to him. Here also we see that justice is not always self-evident. Biblical justice is God’s justice – it cannot be understood without relationship to created purpose (am I not allowed to do what I please with what belongs to me?).

Luke 12:13-15 Here a man asks Jesus to mediate in a dispute about inheritance (traditionally the role of a rabbi) He refuses to pass judgement and highlights the fact that covetousness is the motivation underlying some demands for justice in interpersonal affairs (v15). Jesus is more concerned with attitudes of people than with the question of whether or not a person gets what is “rightfully theirs”[viii]



Victimhood is not a Christian virtue and is a breeding ground for self-pity, self-centredness, covetousness, envy and resentment. It reminds us that that the world is not divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people, but the line dividing good and bad runs right through every one of us. Sin blinds us to our own corruption and we project it onto others (Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:3).


[i] Helmut Koester, Jesus the Victim, Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 111, No. 1 (Spring, 1992), pp. 3-15

[ii] Except that in modern Hebrew, the word used for victim is korban, which originally meant both the sacrifice and the sacrificial animal. See John J van Dijk: In the shadow of Christ? On the use of the word victim for those affected by crime, in Criminal Justice Ethics, 27(1):13-24 · January 2008.

[iii] In English, the first recorded time “victim” seems to have been used for a human person was in 1736. In that year it was used as an honorary name for Jesus Christ, the Crucified, in a translation of the New Testament. Christ was called the expiatory victim: the person who through his victimhood redeemed mankind. ibid.

[iv] René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

[v] Mary Eberstadt, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics, Templeton Press, 2019.

[vi] Interview with Eric Metaxis, retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGwfUUj985Q

March 30,2020.

[vii] For this discussion on the patriarchal stories in Genesis I am indebted to Prof Jordan Petersen for his psychological and philosophical insights.

[viii] See Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Luke, IVP, 1983, p212.


Titan, Titanic and Ignored Warnings.

Posted by on Jul 5, 2023 in Church life, Church of England, Editorial Blog | Comments Off on Titan, Titanic and Ignored Warnings.

Titan, Titanic and Ignored Warnings.

By Dave Doveton.

(Picture credit: Titanic Sinking, engraving by Willy Stöwer; From Wikimedia Commons.)

The world’s attention was rivetted on the recent tragic events that unfolded in the penultimate week of June – when an experimental submersible, the OceanGate Titan under the command of its inventor, undertook an expedition to the wreck of the Titanic. The wreck lies about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland at a depth of 12,500 ft. At that depth, the water pressure is 6000 lb. per square inch. This was obviously a high-risk endeavour made all the more concerning in that non-specialist guests were aboard the dive.

In a strange twist, the submersible came to grief with all occupants lost in exactly the same place that the Titanic came to its final rest on the seabed 111 years previously. Tragically, there are similarities between the sinking of the Titanic and the loss of the Titan. Warnings were ignored – the captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, ignored the warnings about moving icebergs in the frigid waters and proceeded at full speed ahead. The commander of the Titan ignored warnings[i] about the safety of his craft and proceeded with the dive.

Warnings come to us all – not only in these exceptional circumstances, but also during times when all seems normal and safe. Some years ago, I was the rector of a seaside parish church in a suburb of Richards Bay, a port city on the east coast of South Africa. Between our suburb and the town centre was a lake that flowed into an estuary via a canal. A bridge over the canal carried the access road from our suburb into town. One summer, we experienced several days of torrential rain, which resulted in severe flooding. On a dark night, the rising waters washed part of the bridge away. Immediately after it had collapsed, the driver of a car with several occupants sped towards the damaged bridge and roaring floodwaters in the pitch dark, unaware of the danger. A pedestrian who happened to be at the side of the road and knew the bridge had gone tried to flag the driver down. The driver ignored the warning and sped to his death, carrying with him his unfortunate passengers.

Jeremiah and many of the prophets were sent to warn God’s people of the danger they were in – not only in a physical but also in a fundamentally spiritual sense. Jeremiah preached in the temple to the people and to the king and his counsellors, calling them to return to the Lord and to covenant loyalty.  This had no effect. Then, at one point after his pleading, the Lord instructed Jeremiah three times not to pray or intercede for the people of Israel of his time. Why? They had passed the point of no return.

“As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry of prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.”[ii]

Moreover, even when Jeremiah preached to them, the Lord said that they would not listen to him. Then the Lord outlines two consecutive faults of the people that would have a clear result.

“And you shall say to them, “This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline, truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.”

When a church abandons the word of God, then refuses calls to turn back or any type of discipline, the result is a loss of ability to discern the truth. The same process is outlined in Romans chapter 1 as an exchange; when people turn from honouring God, they become futile in their thinking… and, claiming to be wise they become fools. They exchange the truth for a lie and become debased in their thinking.[iii]

It should perhaps not surprise us then, when we see and hear of churches and their ministers yielded to the spirit of the age, descend ever deeper[iv] into the insanity and follies of the host culture. What other explanation is there for the progressive devolution from the sexual and identity confusion to the genital mutilation of children who imagine themselves as something ‘other’? This process has been correctly described as a culture and a church losing touch with reality. The problem is, just as icebergs are real and water pressure is real, God’s law and His design for humanity is real, and we must eventually face reality.

A point of no return.

On the great Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls plunges spectacularly over a 190 ft drop. Above the falls, the river wanders wide and placidly with no hint of any danger, except for a soft thundering sound and a rising mist. Several hundred meters upstream from the waterfall on the riverbank is a large sign that states simply, “Do not proceed past this point”. This warns swimmers and those in boats of the danger ahead. Simply put, if you proceed past that point the current is too strong to be resisted, and you will be carried over the falls to certain death.

Repentance, in Hebrew shuv, is to turn back, back to God and His Word; but, also importantly, it is to turn back before it is too late. We live in the bounds of space and time. God gives us time, but that time runs out, and there is no further chance to repent. For our part, we do not know the point at which God’s patience runs out.

Jeremiah encountered the final decision of God when he was told “not to pray for Israel” any longer as they had passed the point of no return. The writer to the Hebrews emphasises that Esau, too, found no chance to repent even though he sought it with tears[v]. Many other Scriptures illustrate the fact that the call to repent is urgent, and God’s patience does run out. There is a point of no return.

Many are praying for the coming General Synod of the Church of England, hoping that somehow the Church will respond to the many calls from the majority Anglican world and change course. Some are wondering if their prayers are already hitting an iron ceiling. Is the Titanic already doomed?

[i] “…the BBC has seen emails which show that warnings over the safety of the Titan sub were dismissed by the CEO.”

see video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXAyJWeI-f0

[ii] Jeremiah 7:16, see also Jeremiah 11:14 and 14:11.

[iii] Romans 1:21-28.

[iv] https://anglicanmainstream.org/canadian-anglicans-approve-liturgies-for-gender-transition/

[v] Hebrews 12:17.


Deception and Desire

Posted by on Jun 5, 2023 in Editorial Blog | Comments Off on Deception and Desire

Deception and Desire

By Dave Doveton.

In a recent article on the individualistic and self-centred nature of western culture that has captivated the western church the Indonesian theologian N Gray Sutanto commented on how churches can fall prey to the same blind spots prevalent in the host culture. He noted in particular, “…the prevalent Western view that happiness and identity are found by following one’s passions and sexual feelings is an unprovable and parochial assumption[i].”

Falling prey to certain cultural trends which conflict with Christian belief, when simultaneously claiming moral innocence is in plain terms to be deceived. The Old Testament is replete with instances where the people of Israel fell into this trap even though they were severely warned about this possibility. In the covenant stipulations of Moses’ second speech to the people of Israel there is an instance of this warning which in turn alerts us to a terrible spiritual danger.

Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you…”[ii]

Here is the biblical analysis; that the root of all unfaithfulness and idolatry is deception. The story of the fall in Genesis gives us an archetype of how we are deceived by our own appetites and desires. These can be morally neutral and created with good purpose by God, but through disobedience we are plunged into all manner of alienations from God and from others. In the Genesis account Eve was attracted by the appearance of the fruit and allowed her desire for wisdom and insight (all good in themselves) to lead her into disobedience and sin against God. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”[iii]

Despite all rational skills and intellectual nous, the child of God can fall away or drift into immoral behaviour and heretical beliefs. Great learning and wisdom cannot prevent it, status or high spiritual office cannot prevent it. This Jesus shows us by his comment to the Pharisees who prided themselves on their theological acumen and learning, “He is not God of the dead, but God of the living. You are quite wrong (planaō).”[iv]

The Greek planaō and its cognates means to be deceived or led astray. Being led astray has the spatial connotations of drifting from the truth, of separating from God and potentially an eventual destination in eternity without God. In his farewell discourses in the Gospels Jesus repeatedly warns the disciples not to be deceived[v]. He obviously understood this would be one of the greatest threats to the church, not only at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, but throughout the church age as we await his second coming.


The association of deception with persistent immoral sexual behaviours in addition to other disordered desires is found throughout the New Testament epistles. Ephesians calls believers to “put off your old self … which is corrupt through deceitful desires[vi]. Plainly, human desire can be good, but it can be corrupted and disordered. It is the disordered desire that Paul warns of later in the chapter, and its ultimate consequences.

For you may be sure that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure…has no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.[i]

Paul warns the Corinthians. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers…”[ii]

In his letter to Titus he observes, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray (planaō), slaves to various passions and pleasures…”[iii]

James has some helpful metaphors in explaining the process of yielding to temptation. He enlarges upon the Deuteronomic warning; “…for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no-one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire, then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, sin to death.[iv]

Firstly, the metaphor of a fishing lure captures the dynamic whereby a hapless individual is drawn to a lure and so ensnared by a hook. The attractive lure conceals a deadly trap, and the individual yields control of his destiny to another, more powerful than them. The second metaphor of conception, gestation, and birth describes how desire conceives sin and sin matures into death[v]. There are several conclusions we can draw from James’ description:

  1. No one is tempted by God or can escape responsibility for moral actions, no one is born with immutable disordered desires. We are free agents; we always have a choice in our responses and our actions. We bear responsibility for our sin.
  2. It is clearly evil desire that ensnares us. This echoes Paul’s statement in Ephesians 4:22 where Paul uses the agricultural metaphor of sowing and reaping to make the same point. “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” We can be deceived into thinking our sin will not have consequences – But God will call us to account.

In many of the statements by church authorities in response to orthodox believers calling for a return to biblical sexual morality there is often an appeal to submit to a ‘listening process’[vi] where some participants will be living in transgressive sexual relationships. The assertion is made that they are faithful believers. However, I wonder if we can be so confident about that seeing that when we turn to scripture, we find a different and severe verdict on the matter:

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him…[vii]

This seems to cast a great deal of doubt on the assumption that because all participants are ‘communicants in good standing’ in the institution, those among them who persist in unrepentant habitual sin can claim to abide in Christ.

Another deceptive use of semantics is the use of the word love. The New Testament Greek has several words all translated in English Bibles by the single word love, as any Greek scholar will attest. Two of the Greek words are pertinent to our discussion – Agape, which means a non-physical, divine self-sacrificing love which acts in the interests of the other, and Eros, which is sexual desire for another, and has selfish connotations. The banal ‘love is love’ is a platitude touted frequently to defend immoral sexual relationships, but often we are assaulted by a revisionist use of the text in 1 John which states “God is love”. This is a misuse of the text which in Greek translates literally as “God is agape”, not “God is eros”.  Eros is another god.

In Greek myths and philosophy, Eros is the god of passionate physical love and sexual desire. With his arrows he inflicts on the hearts of his targeted person powerful feelings – even confusion of mind. Eros is also associated with homoerotic desire, and he was considered its protector.

Perhaps this says something about the spiritual influences we open ourselves to if we submit to disordered desire. Paul certainly indicates that behind pagan idols such as Eros stood real spiritual powers. Even if we believe that the Greek gods had no objective reality, they still personified powerful psycho-spiritual realities.

To those who, like the Israelites of old, are captured the prophet has a plea from the heart of God.

“…Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”[viii]


[i] Ephesians 5:5,6.

[ii] 1 Corinthians 6:9 ff.

[iii] Titus 3:3.

[iv] James 1:13-15.

[v] See also Romans 7:11 “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me”, and the oft quoted Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death…”.

[vi] See for example Archbishop Stephen Cottrell – https://anglican.ink/2023/04/22/archbishop-of-york-we-are-not-judged-by-doctrinal-orthodoxy-but-love/.

[vii] 1 John 3:6-9.

[viii] Ezekiel 18:31,32.

[i] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/jakarta-western-judgments/

[ii] Deuteronomy 11:16.

[iii] Genesis 3:8.

[iv] Mark 12:27.

[v] Luke 21:8; Matt 24:4,5,11,24; Mark 13:5,6.

[vi] Ephesians 4:22.


The reordering of the Anglican Communion and the correlation with contemporary events in the geopolitical world order.

Posted by on May 9, 2023 in Anglican Communion, Editorial Blog | Comments Off on The reordering of the Anglican Communion and the correlation with contemporary events in the geopolitical world order.

The reordering of the Anglican Communion and the correlation with contemporary events in the geopolitical world order.

By Dave Doveton.

The Revd. William Taylor, rector of St Helens Bishopsgate, in a recent interview described the rejection of the Archbishop of Canterbury as head of the Anglican Communion by the GAFCON Kigali Statement as “the end of an era”. This he said, because Canterbury had walked away, and that this would have enormous implications not just for the Anglican Communion, but for the Commonwealth as well which was founded on the basis of the United Kingdom giving spiritual leadership to the countries it had once colonized.

Those who watched the coronation service of King Charles III on May 6th would have seen the Commonwealth leaders present, this following a prior meeting the day before where they affirmed their commitment to the Commonwealth under his leadership. There is an interesting correlation between the formation of independent autonomous provinces which make up the Anglican Communion and the later development of the British Commonwealth. Through the colonial period there was a symbiotic relationship between Church and State which had positive but also negative outcomes and many historians have chronicled this symbiosis. After the colonial era this symbiosis between church and the bureaucratic state was broken. Later the relationship between the mother Church of England and the Churches planted in her colonies was also transformed over time through processes which varied according to each situation.

Colonial Anglican churches throughout the British Empire were gradually freed from dependence on the Church of England and the Crown. This process of disestablishment started in 1868 with the Church of the West Indies. Following this the See of Canterbury relinquished legal primacy over other bishops in 1874. The next step occurred with the institution of the first Lambeth Conference in 1867 by Archbishop Longley. The spiritual arm of the Empire had developed into a fellowship of autonomous and equal provinces, all acknowledging their origins in the mother church of England, and all based on the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion. They acknowledged the Archbishop of Canterbury as primus inter pares with an important role of moral leadership over the Communion with responsibilities which included calling the Bishops of the Communion together once every ten years for the Lambeth Conference.  Later more structures were developed – such as the formation of the Instruments of Communion which were the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council and eventually the Primates Council.

Not only did the mother church gradually relinquish control over the churches she had birthed, the British Empire was gradually receding into the sunset granting political independence over several decades to its former colonies, but still retaining economic, financial and trade links with them through private and quasi-governmental bodies (especially in Africa, where there were agricultural and rural development projects). There developed a complex relationship between the geopolitical sphere and the spiritual.

At the 1926 Imperial Conference Britain and several of her dominions and former colonies including South Africa, India Australia and Canada agreed to membership of a community within the British Empire. In 1949 it was decided at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting that republics and sovereign independent nations could be members of the Commonwealth. Today 56 countries are part of it sharing goals such as economic development, peace, and democracy. The British sovereign, particularly Elizabeth II has played an important symbolic role as titular head, and the Commonwealth nations respected her moral leadership.

Fast forward to the present and there are rumblings of discontent in certain of the Kings Dominions – at least six Caribbean nations are calling for their independence from the monarchy[i]. In the wider geopolitical order, there are parallel realignments and challenges to the status quo especially as regards developing nations. Developing nations are being far more forthright and sharply outspoken in their resistance to hegemony of the so called “international rules-based order” – led by the United States of America and NATO countries including the United Kingdom and France in particular.

In terms of global economic trade relations, several new trading blocs have emerged over the past years which are increasingly independent of the US dollar, the world’s reserve currency and western dominated trade interests. Among these are the BRICS group together constituting 40% of world population, China’s Belt and Road initiative (150 nations), and RCEP which groups China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand with the 10 member ASEN group of nations.

The Indian Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar has made powerful statements in several international forums, rebuking western and European nations for arrogantly believing that they are the centre of the world and expecting developing nations automatically to support their policies (such as the sanctioning of Russia).

During a recent visit by President Emmanuel Macron of France to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the President, Felix Tshisekedi, publicly berated Macron saying that he and other European leaders must learn to see Africa in a fundamentally different way than they had during their colonial past. “You must begin to respect us and stop treating us in a patronizing and paternalistic way, as if you are always absolutely right and we are always absolutely wrong”.

There have been similar instances elsewhere – for example Namibian President Hein Geingob rebuked a German leader for arrogantly calling into question Namibia’s right to determine its own foreign policy. In April of this year, President Museveni of Uganda lashed out at Western nations, saying they could not dictate to Uganda on how it should handle internal issues relating to culture and religion. In the same month Chad expelled the German ambassador, “for his impolite attitude and non-respect of diplomatic practices”[ii]

The American historian and social commentator Victor Davis Hansen has succinctly captured the essence of the present widening schism between the affluent West and the developing nations. His comments centre on the United States but could well apply to Europe and the United Kingdom.

“The rest of the planet worries whether it will have enough food, energy, security, and shelter to live one more day. For most, the incessant, woke virtue-signaling from affluent Americans comes across as the whiny bullying of pampered, self-righteous—and increasingly neurotic—imperialists.”[iii]

Reading the GAFCON Kigali Statement, especially its clear rejection of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s moral authority, one is left in no doubt that the majority of the Anglican Communion is no longer willing to be cajoled or sweet-talked by the church leadership in the West who have capitulated to secular ideologies corrosive to the Gospel. In a manner similar to the current rejection by developing nations who increasingly are looking to develop alternate political and economic alliances – for example the BRICS, the Churches of the Global South are rejecting the old Canterbury order and looking to develop new structures and rules of order which reflect a new reality[iv]. There is a growing self-confidence and sense of Spirit led destiny in both the GAFCON movement and the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans, albeit mixed with a deep sorrow that the Canterbury-led portion of the global Communion has departed from the Gospel, thus precipitating schism.

In his response to the GAFCON Kigali Statement the Archbishop of Canterbury mentioned the decision by the General Synod of the Church of England to give the Communion a ‘greater role’ in the choosing of future Archbishops of Canterbury. This will be seen by many as throwing a bone to a global Communion that refuses to be treated with high-handedness any longer.


[i] https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/04/28/caribbean-monarchy-queen-republic-reparations-jamaica-belize-protest/

[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSDplay10vQ

[iii] Victor Davis Hansen, The new ugly Americans, TORONTO SUN, May 6, 2023.

[iv] The Church of Nigeria had as far back as 2005 removed “communion with the See of Canterbury” from its constitution (as a definition of membership in the Communion).




Domestic Blessings?

Posted by on Apr 4, 2023 in Editorial Blog, Same Sex Parenting | Comments Off on Domestic Blessings?

Domestic Blessings?

By Dave Doveton.

(Editor’s note: What I write on here arises from a Southern African context, but the principles are applicable everywhere)

An addendum to the communique from the last Episcopal Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa inter alia states the following:

Noting that we are baptising the children of same-sex couples and confirming LGBTQI Anglicans, he (the archbishop) appealed for guidelines on the form of prayers we are to use when ministering to them, for example, when we bless their houses or meals in their homes. He challenged us to develop prayers of affirmation and acknowledgement for all faithful Anglicans with which all of us can agree, and to present such prayers to Provincial Standing Committee (PSC) and Provincial Synod[i]

Noting that the church already has among its publications a set of Occasional Prayers which include prayers for the blessings of homes and table graces – what is the motivation for additional prayers? It appears that this pertains to the domestic situation in which household is headed by a same-sex couple who may or may not be in a ‘civil marriage.’

While there is not the indication that these will include prayers of blessing the couple in particular, what is evident is that there is an implied recognition and affirmation of the basic goodness and rightness of a domestic structure and relationships headed by a same-sex couple.

Firstly, we may ask, on what basis is this domestic arrangement recognized? If it is a same-sex union -whether a civil ‘marriage’ or not, it is not recognized by the church. It has never been recognized in Church history because scripture prohibits all forms of homosexuality. Contemporary bible scholars such as Prof Robert Gagnon, but also the foremost liberal scholars William Loader, Dan O Via, Walter Wink and Bernadette Brooten agree that the Bible rejects and condemns all same-sex sexual activity as against God ordained natural order. In fact, the majority of scholars past and present are clear that the Bible condemns all same sex activity out of hand.

When we are considering same-sex couples, unions, or partnerships we are not just considering a minor adjustment to moral ethics which is not going to affect anything else, nor are we widening a tent in a gracious caring way. No, we are faced with two opposing and irreconcilable doctrines. Paul describes this opposition in 1 Timothy 4:1-11.  Paul charges Timothy to teach the good doctrine that he has followed in contrast to false teaching that was already having an effect in Ephesus[ii] . The false teaching was an errant doctrine of creation in which the ‘goods’ of creation – male female marriage, and food were rejected as corrupting and therefore not good. This teaching rejected the Creator’s purpose and would arise again later in the heretical Gnostic movement as Peter Jones observes,

“Paul classifies the evil attack on the Creator as demonic (v.1). In early Gnosticism, which wrote of throwing the Creator into Hell, Gnostic teachers rejected the good things of the creation, such as marriage and food, as physical, and therefore corrupting.”

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul similarly rejects same-sex desire as para phusis – as against what is God created natural male/female sexuality. In other pastoral epistles he warns the churches in the different cultures of the Greco-Roman world such as Ephesus and Corinth of the danger of misplaced sexual desire. It potentially leads people to be enemies of the cross of Christ and ultimate spiritual death.[iii]

The centrality of desire as a basis for same-sex unions is explicitly acknowledged by churches which accept such relationships. The requirements for a valid same-sex blessing in the Diocese of Massachusetts set by the theological task force explains.

“Two persons, at least one of whom has been baptised, who are drawn to one another in desire and wish to share a life of loving mutuality, intimacy, respect, hospitality, and lifelong faithfulness present themselves to a community that in some fashion discerns the authenticity and integrity of this desire and evokes God’s blessing on this desire[iv]

The basis of same-sex unions is desire. In pro-gay belief, identity is defined by desire and thus desire becomes the good, not our created identity rooted in our biology. Affirming such unions would be affirming the goodness of misdirected desire and a denial of the creation order and the high doctrine of human beings. It offers a structure and template for family life based on desire. It blurs and destroys the creational boundaries defining male and female. To have a union of two males or two females dissolves both the boundaries and the bonds that are the framework of the Creators design for human flourishing. It is thus anti-human and anti-God. Jesus warned his hearers, “what therefore God has joined together (male and female) let not man separate.”[v]

The image of a same sex parenting structure therefore cannot be seen as a good, no matter how faithful and committed because it is a visible rebellion against the creator’s purpose for human sexuality and human flourishing. The goods or wonderful and great blessings of God come to us through the basic social building block he has designed in which we are co-creators with him – which is heterosexual marriage the foundation of family life and the raising of children. Even children in a same sex domestic arrangement are affected by breaking bonds as adopted or surrogate (except for adopted orphans) they will be deprived of one or both biological parents.

The acceptance of behaviours entailed in these domestic arrangements by the church is a problem because whatever the church affirms, even if in an unscriptural way, is an example not only to believers, but also an encouragement to the culture.

How then can we as the church encourage the culture on its headlong rush to disintegration. We show every sign of slipping into moralistic therapeutic deism where the aim of the church is to make people feel good about themselves and their lifestyle. It is moralistic because we ignore the gospel call to repentance from sin, instead we affirm people in their behaviour by a comparative moralizing. The comment[vi] by some bishops that we should encourage “faithful committed” relationships is such a comparative moralism. St Paul clearly condemned such moralising. Using the example of someone who judges others in terms of his own moral standards (I am not as bad as a murderer, for example) he says, “Do you suppose, O man- you who practice such things and yet do them yourself – that you will escape the judgement of God?”[vii] He is saying that God will not excuse any sin because it is ‘comparatively small’ or that my obedience to some of God’s law will excuse sin in another area. Thus, the virtues of faithfulness and commitment do not atone for living in open rebellion against the teachings of Christ. He continues, “Or do you presume on the richness of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is leading you to repentance?”[viii] All sin is abhorrent to God and the only solution is repentance. The alternative is the experience of God’s wrath on the day of judgement. Paul further notes that the seeming absence of any type of judgement is not an indication of God’s approval, but of God’s merciful patience whereby he gives time for repentance. The judgement will come however on the final day – unexpected for hardened hearts, but certain.

The scripture only recognizes and deems one sexual relationship as holy and lifegiving and that is the marriage of one male and one female. Nowhere in the bible do we find ‘faithful and committed’ as a basis for a sexual relationship, and a domestic arrangement. The foundations of marriage are clear. – they are structural – one man and one woman in a legal covenant for one lifetime. They are not defined or governed by inner feelings and desires or vapid definitions such as ‘faithful’ or ‘committed’. The problem is that a sexual relationship between 3 or more people can also be defined as faithful and committed. Polyamorists are in some countries already campaigning for their unions to be legally recognized as marriage. [ix]

Of course, there are many people who are wonderful, kind, and generous but live in adulterous relationships. Following the logic expressed above, they can also be blessed. This issue is being made into a victimhood issue where those in same-sex relationships are portrayed as victims of a wicked church because it refuses to acknowledge the validity of their relationship, and casts that as a refusal to see any virtues or goodness in them as people.

This domestic arrangement then is neither a ‘good’ for those involved nor it seems for the community or the nation. In Leviticus, the instructions of the Lord are crystal clear. Referring to the prohibited sexual relations listed prior, he warns, “You shall therefore keep all my statutes…that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you for they did all these things and therefore I detested them”[x] As Paul notes, God holds all people accountable whether they are of the community of faith or not[xi]. It seems that the God we now believe in is the God of Deism who exists in a disinterested solitude and does not intervene in the history of nations, and nor will he hold us accountable for validating and blessing what he has prohibited.

In the pastoral context Christian leaders are called to bring grace and hope. Pastoral ministry is often very challenging as we are expected to act in a loving and compassionate manner. Yet – love without truth is sentimentality and a betrayal of our calling. Leaders are especially accountable to God for those in their care both with respect to teaching the truth according to revealed apostolic doctrine and in refuting error, but also in maintaining discipline. This is a function that leaders perform with fear and trembling in the knowledge that one day we will all stand before the divine Judge and answer to him.

In scripture we are given a clear idea of what will bring condemnation upon us. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah pronounces several woes against the spiritual leadership of Israel and then outlines the reasons,

“But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hand of evildoers, so that no-one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.” …. “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes… They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’, and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”[xii]

This is a warning against false affirmation, against the giving of false hope and false reassurance. This occurs when leaders lead people astray by affirming them in sin instead of calling them to repentance. In his day there were those who affirmed people who rejected scriptural teaching, gave false assurance to those who stubbornly followed their own desires, and gave comfort to those who rejected divine revelation. The reference to Sodom and Gomorrah is an indication that Judgement against them had already been set and was irrevocable.

May we not find ourselves in the same position.



[i] https://anglican.ink/2023/03/04/southern-africa-bishops-reject-same-sex-blessings/

[ii] 1 Timothy Chapter1.

[iii] Romans 1:18-32; see also 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy1:10, Ephesians 4:17-23, Philippians 3:18,19.

[iv] Theological Perspectives on the Blessing of Holy Unions, Diocese of Massachusetts, May 2004.

[v] Mark 10:9.

[vi] The addendum notes that “On one side of the debate were those of us who are deeply unhappy that faithful Anglicans, who are members of our parishes, are denied the church’s blessing of their loving, faithful, monogamous, committed same-sex partnerships, when such recognition in the face of societal prejudice would give them the assurance that they are truly part of the Body of Christ.”

[vii] Romans 2:3.

[viii] Romans 2:4.

[ix] See for example Taylor Francis, Why It’s OK to Not Be Monogamous, https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781003375036/ok-monogamous-justin-clardy

[x] Leviticus 20:22,23.

[xi] Romans 2:2, see also Jeremiah 18:7-10.

[xii] Jeremiah 23:14,16,17.



The Emperor’s New Clothes

Posted by on Mar 4, 2023 in Editorial Blog | Comments Off on The Emperor’s New Clothes

The Emperor’s New Clothes

By Dave Doveton.

Hans Christian Anderson’s children’s’ story is about a vain emperor who is swindled by two men who offer to weave him a magnificent set of new clothes. These new clothes they say are invisible to stupid and incompetent people. The emperor agrees to hire them, and the men go to work. When they are finished the emperor inspects the empty looms but says nothing in order not to be thought a fool. He then gets dressed in the ‘invisible clothes’ and sets out in a procession through the city. Crowds of townspeople turn out to see the emperor in his new clothes. They all go along with the charade, not wanting to appear stupid or foolish. Then a child blurts out the embarrassing truth “The emperor has no clothes!” The emperor however holds his head up and processes proudly onwards.


Modernism was still at its height when I and my contemporaries were at theological seminary and many of us were taught by divines who had been educated in the elite educational institutions of the United Kingdom and the United States. Most of the present leaders of western Anglicanism were also educated at that time.

The prevailing powerful ideas that drove modernism such as scientific materialism (which denied the existence of the spiritual realm and promoted the conceit that science can explain everything), individual autonomy, the narrative of unstoppable progress, all contributed to the devaluing of the supernatural. The historical-critical method in Biblical Studies was arguably a development made possible by modernism. While valuable in uncovering the world in which Biblical writers lived it also seems to have led to a sense of superiority among western scholars who at the least devalued the supernatural in scripture and at worst dismissed it. Scientific rationalism was the one true way of understanding the world and if parts of the bible did not fit that paradigm they were glossed over or discarded.

Global South bishops and Primates are often dismissed by the power elite of western church as intellectually backward. The notorious Bishop John Spong once said of Africans “They’ve moved out of animism into a very superstitious kind of Christianity. They’ve yet to face the intellectual revolution of Copernicus and Einstein that we’ve had to face in the developing world: that is just not on their radar screen.”[i] In 2008 John Chane, Bishop of Washington railed against accusations that his church was leading people into error by their revisionist stance saying that the African bishops’ claim to interpret scripture rightly was ‘dangerous’ and ‘demonic’[ii].

A colleague and friend who was ordained with me, was a few years into his pastoral ministry offered a chance to experience parish ministry in a Church of England Diocese. He gladly accepted and for several weeks preached, conducted services, and visited the homes of appreciative parochial families. On one occasion he encountered a severe case of demonic influence in a young man. This man had been through medical and psychiatric assessments and treatments to no avail. My colleague approached his bishop for permission to perform a needed deliverance, but the bishop denied the request indicating that he did not believe in the demonic realm! My friend was flabbergasted.

In essence this is a refusal to assign authority to the scriptural account of reality and especially the spiritual realm. If this is the case, are we really assigning authority to the Bible as we maintain? The Old and New Testaments agree on the nature of reality. That salvation is not just a ‘religious’ concept pertaining to the personal and private realm the on the one hand or a social programme on the other, but that Christ’s death and resurrection is a victory in a spiritual war between God’s kingdom and forces of darkness[iii]. That we, the Church are in a continuing spiritual battle until Christ returns. That powerful demonic forces are behind many of the pastoral problems we encounter, but also the errant teachings that arise from time to time[iv].

Here in Southern Africa, it is not uncommon to encounter instances of demonic influence in the lives of individuals which range from a mild oppression to outright possession. In the Diocese of Zululand priests and evangelists often experience quite serious spiritual opposition. A parish that I served in was situated in a region where there were known spirit mediums (or shamanistic practitioners) who could call down lightning from the heavens on a cloudless day.

African Christians can bring a much-needed spiritual discernment where matters of faith and doctrine are in question – especially in the areas of Christian anthropology and the doctrine of creation. Many African scholars, among them Yusufu Turaki and Afrika Mhlope have highlighted the Biblical worldview and also shown how it differs from African Traditional Religions.

The errant nature of gender ideology is a total denial of the creation order and the high doctrine of human beings. One of its main characteristics is the attack on the normativity of heterosexual marriage and thus on the bonds which undergird the family, secondly the polymorphic sexuality which blurs and destroys the creational boundaries defining male and female. Its dissolving of both the boundaries and the bonds that are the framework of the Creators design for human flourishing shows how anti-human and anti-God this ideology is.[v]

Jesus noted that the Pharisees were in error because they knew not “the scriptures nor the power of God”. That is, the intellectual Biblical study needed a spiritual discernment that was missing in their case. Gregory of Nazianzus stressed the connection between the intellectual and the spiritual in all theological endeavours and said that there could be no true theology without true holiness and its concomitant spiritual discernment.

Western Anglicanism represented by the Church of England, the Church of Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church (USA), and the Anglican Church of Canada, have set a course away from orthodoxy and the rest of the Communion and their leaders have like the emperor of Andersen’s tale donned the ‘new clothing’ of an errant gender doctrine. This ‘clothing’, they believe is invisible to the lesser mortals of Africa and the Global South, so they process on stubbornly. They ignore the prophetic pleadings of their brothers and sisters in the South at their peril.


[i] https://episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/the_living_church/TLCarticle.pl?volume=217&issue=7&article_id=12

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jul/17/religion

[iii] see especially Ephesians, Colossians, and Revelation.

[iv] 1 Timothy 4:1.

[v] This is also characteristic of ancient Greco-Roman belief systems, and we can thus characterise gender ideology as undoubtedly neo-pagan.


Why is homosexuality a sin?: An ex-gay man’s testimony.

Posted by on Feb 17, 2023 in Editorial Blog, Ex-gay movement | Comments Off on Why is homosexuality a sin?: An ex-gay man’s testimony.

Why is homosexuality a sin?: An ex-gay man’s testimony.

Editors Note:  From time to time I will have a guest on my blog to address issues of importance to the church. 

I am pleased to introduce my first guest – Sam Salter. Sam is an ex-gay man, and he shares his testimony – also his deep concerns about the decisions of the recent General Synod.

Once-atheist, Sam trained as a dancer until he discovered the harsh truths of the entertainment industry and dropped out of training prematurely in 2012. Seeking a new identity, he continued to ask questions about the true nature of reality, exploring psychology, philosophy and politics, until opening the door of his life to Christ in 2018. He currently attends a Baptist church in Devon, England, where he lives.
Sam can be contacted on Twitter: @samofsalter


By  Sam Salter.

In Paul the apostle’s trial before Agrippa, he shockingly reveals that when he was a Pharisee, his hatred for Christ’s followers was so, that not only did he put saints in prison and voted for their execution, but he even more sadistically “tried to force them to blaspheme” (Acts 26:9-11). After witnessing the extreme levels of delusion in synod last week, I ask: Is it possible that the Church of England has been usurped by a brood of vipers? Nothing is new under the sun.

The decision to bless same-sex marriages is outrageous and deeply saddening. I myself lived as an openly gay male for 12 years and it ruined me, but by God’s grace, not permanently. I thank God every day that I was shown the truth. I wasn’t a Christian when I decided to step away from my gay life however; I learned the hard way that homosexual relationships are dysfunctional and the gay identity is self-seeking and by default self-destructive. As I grow in spiritual maturity, my interest in homosexuality is decreasing whilst my natural God-given interest in women increases, thanks to the love of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ, who shows me more and more every day what it means to be a man of God: self-sacrificing, compassionate and mission-led, among many other things.

The emasculated church (and the consequently emasculated culture) prefers to place love above truth, as opposed to marrying the two. The arguments for same-sex marriage blessings could all be reduced to a sympathy plea – “We don’t want LGBT people to feel hurt” – a loving and legitimate concern but which paradoxically ignores God’s design for men and women. The argument against the blessings was essentially “Because scripture says so”, a scriptural truth that awkwardly suggests homosexuals simply must live a life of abstinence with no complaints. Ephesians 4:15 commands us to speak the truth in love, but I observe that what we saw in synod was a constant misfiring between the love of the compassionate members and the truth of the scripturally sound members. This is because knowledge of the homosexual condition (and perhaps even gender as a whole) has been buried out of sight of the mainstream for decades.

Telling the average homosexual to abstain for the rest of their life is like a parent condemning an infant to a life without its dummy – the removal of the pacifier causes much upset. The parent knows, however, that the benefits will outweigh the losses hundred-fold as the infant is forced to accept new challenges that will aid healthy development. Our society is plagued with various pacifiers – alcohol, drugs, social media, even fitness obsession, to name a few, which distract us from spiritual growth. I have come to understand that homosexuality has been my own pacifier of choice. I idolised my partners and became regressive, seeing them as the masculine to my feminine. My partners saw me in the same way which caused a lack of equilibrium in our relationship. The fruit of that life was minimal as the wages of sin are death and I failed to understand why I wasn’t maturing like others in my age group.

Much like with drug and alcohol addiction, it’s imperative that we understand the roots of these diseases so that we can help sufferers and those who are victims of their sins when we come to offer them the opportunity to wean off their pacifier. Quoting scripture isn’t enough when it comes to this highly emotive topic.

Catholic psychologist and psychotherapist Joseph Nicolosi Sr. treated people with unwanted same-sex attraction for over 30 years and stated emphatically throughout his career: “Homosexuality is not about sex; it’s about shame”. His therapeutic techniques (then-named Reparative Therapy) centre on theories inspired by the works of Christian psychologist Elizabeth Moberly and father of attachment theory John Bowlby, to name a few. The general idea in the case of a homosexual male (for instance) is that the boy has over-identified with his mother and rejected identification with his father at a crucial stage of his early development. This bleeds into interactions with peers at school (the boy is often bullied for being effeminate, thus his condition is exacerbated) and eventually the masculine world is seen as so mysterious and frustratingly unobtainable, it becomes eroticised during puberty. The homosexual man seeks himself through sex other men, but he of course misses the mark. It’s those early experiences that we need to pay attention to: the pre-homosexual boy makes these unconscious choices often due to an emotionally distant father (sometimes because of his neglect or abuse), an over-attached mother (who may be particularly anxious or overcompensating for the father’s absence) and/or childhood sexual abuse. 46% of homosexual men report having been molested at a young age compared to 7% of heterosexual men (M E Tomeo, 2001). Nicolosi’s therapeutic technique seeks to process these gender-based negative experiences and in so doing, removing the patient’s gender-based fears, making room for a more spiritual or emotional intimacy with the same sex, as opposed to a physical intimacy, diminishing the same-sex attraction. Since Nicolosi Sr’s unfortunate passing in 2017, his son Joseph Nicolosi Jr continues his legacy with Reintegrative Therapy™, of which I am myself a recipient. Activists that wish to ban so-called conversion therapy may call Reintegrative Therapy™ “dangerous” and it is – because it works.

It was Nicolosi Sr’s work that changed my mind about my own sexuality back in 2018, when I’d lived with my partner for 3 years. In a 45-minute YouTube video, I went from believing I was born gay to seeing that my homosexuality was causing a lot of grief and was linked to many other psychological problems, which for me included an eating disorder – issues that were previously unrelated in my mind. After the inevitable break-up from my partner, God provided me a new job and a place to live instantly so I could begin my new life back in my home town. It was around this time that I met Mike Davidson from Core Issues Trust – a charity that works tirelessly offering support to people like me and fighting against the false “born this way” narrative. God would later put me in touch with a therapist who offered to treat me free of charge and a brother in Christ who sponsored me to see another therapist. I’ve also been blessed with Christian brothers all around the world to sharpen me and build me up as a man.

A common argument we hear in support of same-sex relationships is “love is love”. Love is, indeed, love, but is homosexuality love? If “love” means to put your partner’s needs before yours, then no. If “love” is expressed by consummation that creates life and bonds two partners, then no again. In 1984, two gay researchers, David McWhirter and Andrew Mattison, set out to enlighten gay men on what makes a good gay relationship in their work ‘The Male Couple’. They found that out of 156 gay male couples, not one of those couples were able to maintain fidelity for more than 5 years (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 62). If love is patient, kind and not self-seeking, it is sure to keep 2 people in a monogamous relationship for more than 5 years.

Although Nicolosi’s explanations of gender development and homosexuality are widely accepted among the ex-gay community, not all ex-gay people engage in therapy, for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, I note that psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler states in his book ‘Homosexuality: Disease or Way of Life?’ that “the feminine identification is in itself a defense – it’s the admission of the lesser crime” and that actually the root of the problem is a kind of masochism (“pleasure in displeasure”) created in early infancy.

Dutch psychologist Gerard Van Den Aardweg bases his own ideas on Bergler’s by implying that an addiction to self-pity is what prevents the pre-homosexual boy from escaping his gender-based hurts: “‘Many pre-homosexual boys had feelings of “not belonging” with their fathers, brother or other boys…the child and the adolescent automatically react to feelings of inferiority and “not belonging” with self-pity or self-dramatization…[he] can become attached to this attitude, especially when he withdraws into himself and has no one to help him work through his problems with understanding, encouragement and firmness.”  (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 48)

He boldly suggests that homosexuals are too self-seeking to love in any way, let alone romantically: “His complex directs his attention to himself; he seeks attention and love, recognition, and admiration for himself, like a child. His self-centredness thwarts his capacity to love, to be really interested in others, to take responsibility for others, to give and to serve…” (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 66).

Van Aardweg therefore concludes that the love gay couples have for each other is false: “Homosexual unions are clinging relationships of two essentially self-absorbed “poor me’s”’ (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 63). “Many homosexuals feign warmth and love for their partners and delude themselves into believing these sentiments are real, but in effect they cherish a self-serving sentimentality and play a game” (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 133).

His harsh critique gives us insight into why exactly homosexuality was perceived as, and categorised under, “Sociopathic personality disturbances” in the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders back in 1952, before it was removed in 1974 – one of the many fruits of the so-called sexual revolution.

I hope at this stage that it’s clear to the reader that to love a homosexual means to help them expose and process their hurts around their gender deficit and encourage them to walk in faith with their brothers (if a man) or sisters (if a woman) to help them establish a healthy gender identity. “Mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

Another favourite argument of the pro-LGBT crowd, if we fail to address the roots of homosexuality, is “LGBT people need acceptance”. Gay marriage became legal for the first time back in 2001 in the Netherlands. Yet in 2013, Dutch gay men were still three times more likely to have a mood disorder and ten times more likely to engage in suicidal self-harm (Aggarwal & Gerrets, 2013). Acceptance of homosexual practices evidently did not help this population.

The enemy loves to twist language to mislead as he takes delight in chaos. For instance, how much has social media in fact caused social isolation? Note a similar irony in the word “Pride”. The go-to Christian analysis of the association between pride and LGBT is the correct notion that “Pride comes before a fall”. But I add that the irony in the concept of being “proud” in the context of LGBT is that as previously outlined, the homosexual condition comes from a deep sense of shame and LGBT people are far from proud of who they are. LGBT Pride marches seek not to exclaim self-contentment, but instead, the increasingly sexual nature of these marches demonstrate a collective anger, bitterness and a desperate plea for attention – “Help me, I feel inferior”. Ironically, the more political acceptance LGBT people get, the bigger the marches and media campaigns get.

The sad truth is that LGBT people will never be satisfied with their imaginary idea of acceptance, because the very essence of their condition lends itself to what psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler calls “Injustice collecting”: “The entire personality structure of the homosexual is pervaded by the unconscious wish to suffer; this wish is gratified by self-created trouble-making…if [external difficulties] were to be removed…the homosexual would still be an emotionally sick person” (Bergler, 1962, p. 9). Paul refers to a time when marriage is prohibited (1 Timothy 4:3) – perhaps we are seeing the foundations being laid for such a time – it’s outlandish but not impossible to imagine that this evil trend of faux-acceptance will not stop until the idea of any kind of committed union is meaningless.

Acceptance of the same-sex attracted individual means acceptance of who they are as a grieving man or woman who needs assistance in embracing their God-given gender role, offering “understanding, encouragement and firmness” as recommended by Van Den Aardweg, not just to calm their feelings of inferiority (“I’m not strong like other men”/”I’m not soft like other women”), but also to confront their habitually masochistic behaviour as mentioned by Bergler.

Acceptance of homosexual practices only feeds their inner turmoil and erodes our society, creating suspicion in same-sex spaces and separation of men and women. The ensuing miscommunication fractures our society, so that truth and love are on separate playing fields, creating a vacuum that the enemy will use to fill with his lies. The impending ban on so-called conversion therapy seeks to ban people like me from getting direct psychological and even prayerful assistance with this issue. I call upon the church to revive traditional gender roles as outlined in scripture to circumvent any ban that is put in place.

Christ showed the Samaritan woman at the well a mirror. He penetrated her heart when he told her that he knew how many husbands she’d had, a truth that she likely buried out of shame, and it stunned her. It’s well known around the world that the English are conflict-avoidant to their detriment. And so I pray: May we confront this idea by speaking those buried truths – whether gender-related or otherwise – that stun our friends, family and loved ones, rebuking and exhorting, with utmost compassion, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Works Cited

Aggarwal, S., & Gerrets, R. (2013). Exploring a Dutch paradox: an ethnographic investigation of gay men’s mental health. Retrieved from PubMed.gov: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24236852/

Bergler, E. (1962). Homosexuality: Disease or Way of Life? New York: Collier Books.

M E Tomeo, D. I. (2001). Comparative data of childhood and adolescence molestation in heterosexual and homosexual persons. Retrieved from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11501300

Nicolosi, J. J. (2016). Shame and Attachment Loss. USA: Liberal Mind Publishers.

Van Den Aardweg, G. J. (1997). The Battle For Normality. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.




Prayers of “love and faith” or a liturgy for Baal?

Posted by on Feb 6, 2023 in Editorial Blog, Prayer | Comments Off on Prayers of “love and faith” or a liturgy for Baal?

Prayers of “love and faith” or a liturgy for Baal?

by Dave Doveton:

In recent days the Bishops of the Church of England released their response to the Living in Love and Faith process, which included a draft set of prayers and liturgies. These “Prayers of Love and Faith” are, say the bishops, “a way of affirming welcoming and giving thanks for couples who are committed to be faithful to one another and to serving God” which is all very high sounding and admirable. However, what has precipitated the censorious response from the Anglican world especially the global south, is the fact that these liturgies include “prayers of blessing for couples including same sex couples”. In other words, they can be used to bless same-sex relationships. [1] The bishops in effect have tacitly approved the godliness and Christian acceptability of same-sex unions such that they can be blessed in the name of the church during a service or in a special liturgy. [2]

Much of the justification for this stance regarding same sex unions rests on the uncritical adoption of new ideologies of ontology. Chief among these is the adoption of modern gender ideology and its concomitant offspring – gender identity. Gender ideology is a post-modern deconstruction of the biblical understanding of human identity. It stems from a popular culture which, as George Weigel has noted, “…dismisses out of hand the very notion that there is a morally significant givenness to reality: a structure of The Way Things Are that can be discerned by reason and that, being known, discloses certain truths about the way we should live.”[3] In this understanding our sexual selves are believed to be socially constructed, not predetermined and inborn. Thus, “people dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being.  They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”[4]

Instead of the Christian belief that sexual identity is a given rooted in biological reality; male and female, sexual identity is now something we as autonomous individuals choose for ourselves, based in part on latent attractions, feelings and desires. Thus, arising from the polymorphic nature of fallen human desire, we have the almost limitless varieties of ‘gender’ – gay, bisexual, transgender etc. All ‘gender’ self-definitions are exactly that – ideological self-definitions, intellectual constructs. These self-identifications, which are not only totally subjective and non-examinable assertions, are also contingent on a prior suppression of the truth which accords with the Creators intention. Biblical scholar Robert Gagnon has highlighted how in Romans 1:18-32, Paul bears witness to the fact that all humans sin by suppressing the truth about themselves evident in creation and how that suppression leads to certain consequences. Gender ideology in effect rejects the divine architecture of only two complementary sexes, male and female, which are meant for each other in an exclusive and permanent heterosexual union called marriage. When people reject God’s truth about themselves revealed in their bodily existence, they paradoxically invest those same bodies with the transcendent values that belong only to God – and that of course is a form of idolatry.

To put it another way; if we claim one of the numerous gender ‘identities’ as who we are, we conflate innate desires (even if not chosen) with identity and thus absolve the self of accountability and responsibility for our sexual behaviour. This is in fact to remove the basis for all moral accountability in a social or corporate sense. We become the arbiters of what is right and wrong for ourselves – we claim to be our own gods. It is worth noting that in the Hebrew bible, ba’al [5] and its cognates means “owner” or “husband” and can relate to both ownership of physical items such as land, being lord or master of a household, or community; or it can mean the possession of certain internal qualities or traits of personality (as in Proverbs 22:24, 23:2, 24:8). In the contemporary understanding of the human person as a private owner of their desires and behaviour, we could well say that in such an understanding people are their own ‘baals’.

The New Testament almost always, when speaking about sexual immorality, associates it with idolatry. Take Ephesians 5:5; “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is an idolater) has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” [6] The phrase sexually immoral or impure is meant as an all-encompassing phrase to include all sexual behaviour censured by the Old Testament moral code. Here, as with the almost identical Colossians 3:5, 6, Paul is warning believers that sexual immorality is a mark of the pagan lifestyle and a rejection of the Lordship of Christ. Again, in Revelation 2:20, the false teacher named ‘Jezebel’ is accused of teaching and seducing the Christians of Thyatira into sexually immoral behaviour. Here we have a powerful intertextual reference to the Old Testament. Jezebel, of course, was the Tyrian princess whom king Ahab married and who brought into Israel the worship of Baal together with numbers of cultic prophets of Baal.

In a similar vein, Paul warns the flock, “Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play””.[7] This is a reference to an incident in the Old Testament in which the people made offerings to Aaron’s golden calf, and then indulged in the immoral practices of the Canaanite Baal cult. To make his point clear and to emphasise it he adds, “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day”, referring to Exodus 32:28.

Again, the writer to the Hebrews issues a strong admonition; “See to it…that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau…”[8] Sexual immorality is associated with the “bitter root” of idolatry in Deuteronomy 29:18; “Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit…”

Prophets of the Old Testament such as Elijah saw the root cause of Israel’s problems as a theological one “How long will you go limping between two opinions”, he says, “if Baal is god, worship him, but if YHWH is god, worship him”. The Israelites did not deny YHWH, nor did they destroy the sanctuaries at which YHWH was worshipped, they merely brought in the Asherah poles. Idolatry here is not disbelief in the true God but permitting another god to stand in his presence – to paraphrase Tertullian. Thus, idolatry can take on a cultic expression, but in essence it is the surrender of the will to something or someone other than God – it can mean the surrender of our will to bodily appetites and desires in place of surrendering to God’s revealed will.

The first chapter of the book of Romans (verses 18-32), reveals the psycho-social dynamic that is released within a culture that suppresses the truth about the creator God. Human beings turn from worshipping the creator to worshipping the creation; in Old Testament terms they turn from worshipping Yahweh the creator to the worship of Baal who is the personification of the creative principle or the principle of generation. This has both a male and female form – Asherah as well as Baal. The phallic symbols associated with Baal cult and other pagan fertility cults throughout the world show how this can eventually turn to the worship of human genitalia.

Idolatry is the divinization of nature, investing what is created with transcendent value which belongs to God alone. This is true not only of external nature – the visual and corporeal, but of inner nature as well. This means our instincts and innate desires are divinized, invested with transcendent value. The apostle Paul warns Timothy about this very great danger of reversion within the church – people will be lovers of self…lovers of pleasure…led astray by various passions. [9] Of course not all non-heterosexual relationships manifest in this way; many are monogamous and display great virtue. However, being virtuous in our relationships does not exempt us from obeying God’s commands.

Idolatry is neither a purely cultic nor a purely individual affair in view of its spiritual basis. An idolater is not merely one who prays to Baal, Zeus, or the Buddha (although these are included); nor is it true that individual sin of idolatry has no effect on the wider church. It has a corporate dimension and a corporate effect when practiced, just as sexual immorality does. Paul describes this reality when speaking of the incident in the Corinthian church where a man’s immoral sexual relationship is tolerated by the leadership. We are part of the mystical body of Christ (1 Cor 6:15) and the sexually immoral person sins against the body. A little leaven, says Paul, leavens the whole lump; this corrupting influence includes, among other sins, idolatry, and sexual immorality.

To understand the psycho-spiritual dynamic the scripture teaches is inherent in same-sex relations, it is instructive to start in the Old Testament. The book of Genesis from its first verses reveals the ordering of reality. Space, time, and the universe are all ordered with a binary nature. There is light and dark, heaven and earth, male and female. In fact, the binary of male and female is a representative template and microcosm of the whole of creation and of God’s intended relationship with his human creation (as in marriage).

The rest of the TORAH or first five books, reveal God’s moral order. The Old Testament moral code has always formed the basis of the New Testament moral standards and is explicitly affirmed in the 39 Articles. In Leviticus 18:22-23, the prohibitions against same-sex behaviour and what is now euphemistically called ‘zoophilia” are associated not because they are equivalent, but because they are to’ay’baw (or abhorrence and unclean) and teh’bel (confusion, a violation of the natural created order). Joseph Boot notes that,

“…these terms are significant because biblically these acts are acts of chaos that flow out of a religious perspective that believes in primeval chaos, whereby social revitalization occurs when man returns to chaos by acts of chaos” [10]

Both these acts are chaotic because they break the God ordered distinctions and separations (the binary nature of creation) which are necessary for human wholeness and flourishing.  In addition, Leviticus teaches very clearly that these behaviours both result in the defiling of the individual offenders, the community, and the whole land. The consequence – a vivid metaphor of violent expulsion – the community will be vomited out of their land. This metaphoric Hebrew bodily expression captures the idea of purgation that must follow such corruption if there is to be eventual healing of the land.

It is therefore clearly not merely a prohibition of a cultic practice, but a prohibition of these behaviours in themselves because they ultimately destroy individual lives, the family, and the community. They promote a pagan worldview antithetical to the truth about reality and the purpose of God for human beings. The ‘blessing’ of what God has expressly forbidden in very strong terms as equivalent to idolatry is surely going to have a terrible spiritual consequence for the sanctuaries that host these events. In bringing what God regards as unholy into a holy place is a desecration of the holy and arguably a sign of the spirit of antichrist.[11]

The fact that two people who are engaged in an actively homosexual relationship can come up to the altar rail for a ‘blessing’ is in Biblical terms an affirmation not of something positive and life-giving, but a sign of a return to chaos. It is in essence no different from the idea that two people in an adulterous or incestuous relationship can do so. It is abhorrent to both the letter and spirit of the scriptures. Wolfhard Pannenburg, arguably one of the most respected protestant theologians of the twentieth century, gave a sobering assessment of a church that permits this practice.

“Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture. Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” [12]

….in other words, it would be apostate.

Dave Doveton, February 2023.


[ 1] The distinction between blessing the couple and blessing the relationship is a fine point which will not be noticed by most people.

[2] Despite denials by the Legal Office, Martin Davie has shown that this is clearly the case. “… by allowing the marking in a church service of same sex civil marriages the Church of England would be saying that it is right (in the words of the Preface to the draft prayers) ‘to celebrate in God’s presence the commitment two people have made to each other,’ even when the couple involved are ‘coupled together otherwise than God’s word doth allow.’ See “Failing the Green Test II”, retrieved at https://mbarrattdavie.wordpress.com/.

[3] Weigel, George,  Reality and Public Policy,  essay published by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, accessed 5th February, 2023 from http://www.eppc.org/publication/reality-and-public-policy/.

[4] Weigel, op. cit.

[5] Baal is a word used by semitic tribes, signifying ownership or possession (especially describing a husband taking of his wife) by a master. It came to denote the Semitic nature god who was worshipped under different aspects in various localities.

[6] Although in the Greek grammar, the phrase “which is idolatry” modifies the word “covetousness,” most New Testament commentators agree that “covetousness” and thus idolatry is at the root of all the preceding vices. See for example Pao, D.W.  Colossians and Philemon, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2012, pp220-221. Non marital sexual relations are always associated with idolatry in the Old Testament.

[7] 1 Corinthians 10:7.

[8] Hebrews 12:16,17.

[9] 2 Timothy 3:2-4.

[10] Boot, Joseph, The Mission of God, A Manifesto of Hope for Society, Wilberforce, LONDON, 2016, p335.

[11] Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14.

[12] Accessed 06 February from: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1996/november11/6td035.html. 

“I will be who I will be”: Exodus 3 and Gender Identity

Posted by on Jan 16, 2023 in Editorial Blog, Uncategorized | Comments Off on “I will be who I will be”: Exodus 3 and Gender Identity

Our western culture is being swept by a tide of neo-gnostic idealism where the psychological will of the internal self can override the limits of bodily materialism.  So, men attempt to change into ‘women’ by hormonal drugs and surgical intervention, likewise women into ‘men’. This notwithstanding the fact that every cell in their bodies declares their real and biological identity – every human being’s DNA is either male or female. In the Judeo-Christian understanding we are created by a sovereign God whose purpose for us is stamped in our biology. This purpose is manifest in the joining of male and female in marriage to procreate and exercise dominion in the earth.

Jordan Peterson has pointed to a psychological and spiritual truth that lies at the heart of contemporary gender ideology and the desire to remake our identity in opposition to our created biological reality. He highlights the scripture in Exodus Chapter 3 in which God reveals himself to Moses as YHWH, the enigmatic Hebrew name of God which simply put can mean both “I am who I am” and “I will be who I will be”. God identifies himself as self-existent and independent of anybody else for his self-understanding and self-expression. Transgenderism is in essence a rejection of an identity and purpose given by the Creator, and the hubristic arrogation of the right of identification to ones-self. Furthermore, also the right to change this self-identification in the future (I will be who I will be).

The self-identifying of transgenderism is in essence a claim to be our own creators – our own gods. It is in fact the same sentiment expressed in Genesis 3:5 by the enemy, “you will be like God”. Self-deification is a serious affront to God; The prophet Isaiah points to self-deification as that which lies at the heart of Babylonian idolatry, “You felt secure in your wickedness; you said, “No one sees me”, your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.”” (Isaiah 47:10)

Of course, Genesis expresses the fall in the story of Adam and Eve, the consequences of which are the myriad categories of human brokenness. When awareness of sin breaks into human consciousness, there is the instinctive reaction to sew fig leaves together to hide one’s nakedness. Human shame is a powerful motivator and human beings seem to have limitless ways of trying to deal with it – including trying to change their gender. However, as many have discovered, rather too late after transitioning, fig leaves don’t really help. It is only through Christ’s atoning work that the alienation from our creator can be overcome and all the psycho-spiritual inner healing that is necessary begun.

Remaking ourselves and our sexual ‘identity’ is nothing new. The cult of Cybele in the ancient Roman empire required its male priests known as Galli to castrate themselves and on cultic occasions to parade through the streets of a city wearing women’s clothing, elaborate hairdos, perfume and playing musical instruments. Paul saw these and other pagan cults as a manifestation of an exchange; an exchange of the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. For we are made in God’s image, but in our unregenerate state we suppress the truth regarding the image of God by altering and trying to erase that image. How else do you explain the utter lunacy of a man who thinks he can transform himself into a collie dog[i]? For some it may even be a sign of the rejection of God himself, a railing against him by erasing and defiling his image. It would do well to remember the theological reason given for the death penalty in the case of murder – “…for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:5-6) Violent attacks on God’s image are in some sense attacks on the very person of God.

Presently we have Church of England priests who have attempted to erase their created identity and self-create a new one[ii]. The fact that they loudly proclaim their transgender identity and write liturgies to celebrate this supposed identity is an indication that the church has in some quarters opened its doors to a pagan culture that is quite as degenerate as that of ancient Rome. We just have the technology to take it further. Strange that the Archbishop of Canterbury can see the vandalism of a cemetery in Jerusalem as a desecration but says nothing about the attempted erasure of the image of God by a transgendered priest.

It is perhaps understandable given the fallenness of human nature, that western culture once based upon a Christian understanding of the human person could fall back into the darkness of a pagan gender ideology. But when this ideological captivity enters the church, the darkness enters as well. Perhaps one illustration may indicate just how dark things can become.

I recently watched a new documentary on the fall of Berlin in 1945 on Curiosity Channel. The second episode ended with the diary accounts of several members of the Nazi high command as Russian troops closed in on their headquarters. The harrowing suicide of the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels together with his wife was covered in some detail. A photograph of his five beautiful children in a family group portrait was followed by a scene of their murdered bodies. He had killed his own children before killing himself. His reason? He could not see any meaning to life after Nazism.  This man was so captive to a pagan ideology that he could not imagine life without it to the extent he ended not only his own life but also the lives of his wife and children. The point is this; in several Western countries today, children are being encouraged to ‘change’ their gender – is this not an ideological captivity and are we not also sacrificing our children?

Rev Dave Doveton, Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth)  South Africa                                                                                    Epiphany 2023

[i] https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/wtf/japanese-man-spent-rs-12-lakh-to-become-a-dog-570972.html

[ii] https://anglican.ink/2023/01/04/the-church-of-england-accelerates-its-drain-circling-trajectory/