New Bishop of North Queensland is Supporter of Same-Sex Marriage

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The Diocese of North Queensland have confirmed Sunday’s election of the Dean of Darwin Cathedral, Rev Dr Keith Joseph, as their new bishop.

Dr Joseph is an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, the key matter of contention facing the Anglican Church of Australia today. He argued publicly for the legislation which was passed last year and also preached in support in 2014 [pdf].

The sermon is notable as one of only three sermons listed on the Cathedral website. In it, Joseph takes a passing reference to Sodom by Jesus in Matt. 11:23-24 (not part of the lectionary text for that day) as a basis for a comprehensive survey of the Bible’s various proscriptions of same-sex activity. His arguments will be familiar to those who have debated this topic:

This brings us to the New Testament. Jesus never mentions same-gender sexuality – his references to Sodom make clear that sexuality is not the issue here. It has been suggested that there are two possible reasons why Jesus fails to mention same-gender sexuality – either it was so obvious a sin he did not need to mention it, or it was such a trivial matter it was not worth mentioning. Given that Jesus often mentions sins which are clearly significant – such as murder, adultery, betrayal and greed – the most reasonable interpretation of Jesus’ failure to mention homosexuality is that it was trivial.

In the end, all we do must be measured by that highest biblical ideal, which is love: it is against this standard that all sexual behaviour must be measured. We must look at the overall tenor of scripture and the overall revelation of the truth of God before we make judgements. We need only look at the campaigns against slavery and racism and the oppression of women to see how bitterly people use scripture as a weapon in order to defend their traditional understandings of society, and fail to recognise the narrative of love that infuses the Bible.

Joseph has also pushed strongly against freedom of conscience for Christians to not be forced to provide commercial services. In his submission to the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom he argues,

The conclusion of this submission is that religious freedom is essential to Australia and ought to be respected and promoted in both private and public spheres. Nevertheless, religious freedom does not entail freedom from general social obligations, including the obligations on providers of commercial goods and services to provide those goods and services without discrimination.

In more modern terms, Christians can provide goods and services to same-sex weddings without condoning the wedding. They are simply being asked to comply with their social obligation to provide commercial goods and services without discrimination: to respect the law and to respect their fellow- citizens. They are not obliged to assent to the actions taking place in the wedding. Accordingly Christians should not be concerned that their religious freedom is being infringed upon by being required to provide commercial goods and services without discrimination. We pay taxes without necessarily condoning all the purposes to which our taxes are put. Likewise the provision of goods and services does not imply that the merchant condones the lawful purposes to which the goods and services are put.

In another paper published on the Cathedral website he refers to climate change deniers as “self-righteous bastard”s and “hypocrites” who are “not Christians”.

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. RevRon

    North Queensland’s misfortune is Darwin’s good fortune.

  2. Michael

    How sad. The great gospel legacy that +Bill left will be left in tatters after this. Praying for those churches under him who will be struggling with this appointment.

  3. linda nolan

    (Now) Bishop Joseph’s 2014 Pentecostal sermon (click on David Ould post above), on taking a more encompassing view of scripture is well argued & beautifully written. Its conclusion had me shaking my head in agreement. As a community and, as importantly, individuals, we should be welcoming & loving! Agreed, that IS the main game.

    But (isn’t there always a but e.g. Apostle Thomas) there is the distinction that Christ draws between the world’s of Caesar & God.

    It could be that one day the ACA communion takes a wider view than found solely in Matthew & Mark regarding Christ’s teaching on marriage & asks that same-sex marriages be celebrated in our churches.

    Before that (possible) day arrives, ACA Leaders have a responsibility to prepare the Church for the possibility.


  4. linda nolan

    Half-baked proposals to bless the civil marriages of same-sex couples are not the way to proceed. Mature preparation requires the Church to dissociate itself from the hospital pass it received from Parliament when the Marriage Act was changed on 8/12/17.

    Only when our ministers offer stand-alone sacramental marriages, not a combined sacramental & civil ceremony, will the Anglican communion be in a position to discuss when & if it should proceed with marrying same-sex couples.

  5. linda nolan

    I.E. If we are to welcome same-sex couples to sacramental marriage we must do so because of our love for them, not because amendments to a temporal law happen to legitimise their earthly joining.

  6. jackAlison

    Bishop Joseph sounds like a decent human being. Its comforting to know that there ARE those “unusual” people in organized religion who actually try and follow the gospel of peace rather than using it as a idealogical weapon, twisting its words as a proxy for hate and derision. LOOK NO.FURTHER THAN THE ULTRA-ORTHODOX SYDNEY ANGLICAN DIOCESE and the nepotism of rotteness and the “whited sepulchre” of Jensenite appointments, all united in anti-human hardline HATE.

    1. David Ould

      Hello Jack. You claim that Bishop-elect Joseph’s words have been twisted. Can you demonstrate where that is the case?

    2. Ron Johnson

      I’m afraid the gospel of peace is no gospel at all if it is separated fron the gospel of truth.
      Like a horse and carriage the two must not be separated.
      Is the “ultra-conservative” Sydney Diocese cultic as implied above or simply being true
      to the revealed Word of God which stands forever.
      I am yet to see just ONE positive word about homosexuality in the Bible.
      Maybe Jack you could provide one for me?

  7. Robert Tong

    is it true that the conservative candidate was knocked out because he attended the Gafon conference in Jerusalem?

    1. Robyn Carr-Boyd

      No, it’s not true at all. (I was there). Two of the candidates had been attenders at GAFCON conferences. There were many broadranging questions of all candidates, regarding different issues pertinent to the ministry of bishop in north Queensland.

  8. Jenny Stirling

    Jewish women were not allowed to divorce their Jewish husbands regardless of how badly they were treated. Did Jesus challenge that cultural practice? No, he understood that in the time and place it was as extremely unsafe for a woman to live without male protection. Instead, Jesus challenged patriarchy another way: by saying that men should commit to their marriage. And his own disciples were shocked.
    How does this relate to homosexuality? Jesus said nothing about such practices even though they were rife in Greek and Roman society. He could easily have condemned it and scored huge brownie points with his audiences but he didn’t.

    Jesus said nothing and a whole lot of people might like to think twice before picking the low hanging fruit.

    1. David Ould

      hi Jenny thanks for commenting.
      How does Jesus define marriage in Matt. 19?

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