Nevertheless, Paul himself was careful to affirm Jesus’ own teaching: To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.
Notice, however, the exception: for “marital unfaithfulness” (literally porneia), which is usually taken to mean adultery — the logic being that a marriage covenant already broken by adultery cannot be broken again.
Many, myself included, would also argue that the Apostle Paul recognized a second ‘exception’, in the case of desertion by a non-Christian partner (1 Corinthians ).
Again, in 2006 Mr Holtam published a 1500-word open letter deeply critical of the Kigali Communiqué, issued by the Anglican ‘Global South’ Primates who had rejected the earlier decisions of The Episcopal Church, USA. In this, of course, he was saying nothing more than was previously said by Dr Jeffrey John, whose proposed appointment as Bishop of Reading caused so much earlier controversy.
Yet it was Dr John’s teaching, not his lifestyle (which actually falls within the House of Bishops’ guidelines), which would have caused further problems had he been appointed to Southwark.
Can it be that none of them thought to ask about his views on human sexuality, given their current importance in the Church (just as they presumably asked him about his wife’s divorce)?
And if they did, or if he answered with any clarity, can it be they simply considered that this was not worth worrying about?
Oddly enough, although the Church of England imposes certain restrictions on clerical ordination for those in that situation, there was no clarity about the consecration of bishops.
At the last General Synod, however, such clarification was urgently sought and the suspicions of many people as to why seem now to have been confirmed.
Nevertheless, just as potential ordinands must face questioning in this regard, so it must be hoped that someone has delicately asked Mr and Mrs Holtam the same questions.