October 17, 2016

Fulcrum says it all

English author Andrew Goddard, at the aptly named blog, “Fulcrum,” has published a long essay on why he thinks a pastoral accommodation for same-sex couples in the Church of England cannot work.

It strikes me that Goddard’s arguments, particularly in the detailed section on how the church has come both to change its teaching and to make pastoral accommodation concerning remarriage after divorce, demonstrate a willingness to read texts (both liturgical and biblical) in the broadest and most flexible sense possible when applied to such changes and accommodations. Goddard does not show the same flexibility and generosity in his reading of texts concerning same-sexuality, and pastoral accommodation for same-sex couples who take advantage of the civil law to marry. So it appears to me that his inability to see a possibility for accommodation in the latter case is based in part on an unwillingness to weigh the evidence equally on both sides, but to excuse (if not condone) on one side rather than the other.

The reason I suggest that “Fulcrum” is an apt name and forum for his thinking is that a fulcrum — unlike a scale as held in the hands of Justice — is inherently unequal. It is designed to allow a small amount of pressure to accomplish a great deal of work; or, as in this case, for a weak and unbalanced argument to hold sway and persuade a multitude. In spite of my concern for those who “make the ephah small and the shekel great” (Amos 8:5) and those who trouble themselves over gnats while gulping camels, I do not think that Goddard’s arguments will carry much weight outside his own circle. I remain alert, however, to the nature of the fulcrum: to allow small weights to do big things.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG