Saturday, 13 February 2010

Purity laws?

Vic the vicar has posted in the last couple of days, and my responses are expressed more strongly than usual. In the past I had thought in terms of what we have in common, and this is the first real difference to become apparent.

This is good.

The differences are part of our separate identities, and I shouldn't be surprised that he holds the views he does - they are the product of authenticity and integrity, which we both strive for.

The topic that highlighted the differences is the vote in General Synod on clergy pension provision for surviving civil partners, and whether this means that the Church of England is now implicitly recognising equivalence between heterosexual marriage and homosexual civil partnership.

The issue that triggered the conversation is whether or not homosexuality is a sin, and how we use our theology to lead us to conclusions, or whether we seek to support conclusions we have already reached (if you like co-incidences/God-incidences, this is the third time in two weeks that this has been the topic of discussions). I refer you to one conversation .

My correspondent and I differ in our conclusions. I think this is because we each read scripture in the light of our own life-experiences; like Luther “I can do no other”, and to claim otherwise is to claim an objectivity that stretches credulity.

In the case of this argument, one life-experience included watching two people grow from young children to adulthood, and realising many years before they became overtly aware of their sexuality that they were likely to be homosexual. This convinced me that, at least for some people, homosexuality is as inherent in their nature as any other trait, and certainly one of the mothers recognised this when her child was about 11 years old.

Thanks to a popular atheist, Ichneumon wasps have also been much commented on, as if the inclusion in nature of creatures that defy our personal will for order, or our understanding of ‘good’, are an aberration and proof positive of the non-existence of God.  If we don't or can't understand then we must be deluded also stretches credulity - but that is a side issue.

Psalm 139 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” It reminds us that we cannot form God in our own image, heterosexual or anything else. If I am wonderfully made, then so are those two young adults I referred to earlier, and they are loved by God.

If we genuinely think that a couple of verses in Leviticus, taken out of context, are an instruction for us to determine sin in others, and then sepak out against it, then what are we to do with men who cut their hair and beards?

If we are to look at the context in which certain decrees were issued (e.g to counter worship of Molech) and instead, determine which are the great themes of the Bible and what Jesus came to do, I wonder whether we might join with Peter is saying,
"You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

***edit*** Thanks to phil for this post, which I've only just found.


  1. Thank you. I have many gay friends who feel pushed away and alienated by the church, yet who know that they are accepted by Jesus ... it's a very difficult place to be, and posts like this are like gold dust.

  2. Thank you Phil. It has long been a source of sadness for me that gay people, and others who have non-orthodox lifestyles can struggle to find a public place of acceptance in our churches. And, in those areas of life where people *are* living sinfully (as we all do!), there is then no possibility of growth or change.

  3. It didn't seem to me a matter of affirming or condemning people's sexuality - simply a matter of common charity that where two people are in a legal relationship, and have shared home, wealth and belongings, they should be entitled to the same inheritance as any other two people in a legal relationship. In any case, if the vote hadn't gone that way I dare say the EU would have been onto the case before long.

  4. well said Helen, Edward Cardale put it well when we discussed sexuality the year after you left ERMC. He simply stated that the trajectory of the gospel was inclusive, Jesus broke the message free from social constructs and confines of his day if we follow that trajectory I like you believe that we should not call any impure or unclean.

    I have a number of gay friends in committed relationships, the tendency in some camps to state that all gay people live in immoral and uncommitted relationships is just as wrong as assuming that all hetrosexual people don't!

  5. Thanks for those comments.

    G, I understand the point you are making, but that isn't the way Vic interpreted it, and I think he referred to fear of legislative interference as being one reason why those opposed remained silent.

    Sally, that fits in well with a lot of my preaching about inclusivity - good for EC. (Maybe I'll post the sermon that goes with the last wordle.) I too am more concerned about how we, as humans, behave within our relationships, hence my previous comments about domestic violence.