Asking the questions

Mark Vernon's Guardian column has a great catchline at the head, and while the article as a whole doesn't quite live up to the pugnacity and poignancy of the slug, it is well worth reading. The catchline or slug is,
Why do we have such an unbalanced attitude to doubt, demanding certainty where there is none, and pretending to doubt what everyone knows?
This got me thinking about the level of certainty with which some approach the question of same-sex marriage: they are completely sure it is ruled out by Scripture, in spite of the fact that the evidence is indirect and circumstantial (that is, the Scripture does not rule out SSM in so many words, unlike, for instance Sifra on Aharei Mot in the Jewish tradition); and yet they take a very chary attitude towards the evidence of the experience of those who live in or witness the evident virtues of such longstanding relationships, and dismiss it as if living "experience" were somehow less reliable than their just-possible interpretation of ancient documents, venerable though that interpretation may be.

One can sense this tension in the papers and responses that grew out of the House of Bishops Theology Committee blue-ribbon panel of theologians and scholars, recently published in the Anglican Theological Review. I've just finished reading them and am allowing them to percolate before saying any more in detail, but I did sense, in the "traditionalist" papers and responses a growing awareness of this dissonance between ideology and reality.

The question is, in reference to Vernon's catchline, How long are people expected to submit to an unverifiable requirement when the experience of their own lives and of those closest to them casts more and more doubt on its veracity?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

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