Saturday, March 10, 2007

Let's Talk About Sex Baby

Last month I had this to say about people who use "nature" as an argument against homosexuality. Last week, an Anglican bishop came forward to argue that Christianity needs to redefine how it views sex. Now everyone's in a tizzy. I truly think it's a moot issue. Most Protestant churches have moved beyond thinking sex is solely for procreational purposes. Most are still against premarital sex and of course, god forbid that a same-sex couple enters into the holy bonds of matrimony because that would make their heads start a'spinnin'! But don't take my word for it- read over this article (edited, see title link for full text)and tell me what YOU think! (oh- bold highlights are my own additions btw) Do you think changes are warranted? Would such changes be that big of a deal? Or would this be a slippery slope into chaos?


Bishop demands a 'better theology' of sex
The Christian church has a deeply flawed understanding of sex that has led to morally groundless objections to masturbation, birth control, abortion and homosexuality, says a leading Canadian Anglican bishop.
In particular, the church has been wrong for centuries on the notion that sex exists only for the purpose of procreation, Right Rev. Michael Ingham, bishop of the Greater Vancouver Diocese of New Westminster, told a conference in Ottawa last night.
"Christianity as a religion stands in need of a better theology of sexuality," he said, "a better understanding of the complex role sexuality plays in our human nature and of the purposes of God in creating us as sexual beings."
He said the church has misunderstood references to homosexuality in the Bible, wasted energy in persecuting individuals who have argued for a new understanding of sexuality, and failed to comprehend how much the Bible and church doctrines have been shaped through the lens of male experience.
The forthrightness of Bishop Ingham's address on sexuality is without precedent in the Canadian Anglican church. It not only puts him at odds with much of the Anglican Communion but with Roman Catholicism, most Protestant sects and the Orthodox Church.
The Bible's Christian New Testament condemnation of homosexuality, he said, is "almost certainly" a proscription of sex between adult males and young boys -- tolerated in the 1st century AD in Greek society -- and not a proscription against adult homo-eroticism.
"[The Christian biblical writer] St. Paul understood same-sex relationships only in terms of the older-man and younger-boy relationship of the Greeks, which we call pederasty, or in other words child abuse. . . . But no difference was perceived [by the Christian church] between child abuse and adult same-sex love.
"Today we have a better understanding of homosexuality as a basic and natural orientation experienced by some members of the human community, just as we find the same thing among some animal species, and in Christian terms we must come to think of this as not only natural but also God-given and good.
"But these developments in the social sciences and therefore in popular understanding are still relatively new -- since about the 19th century. They have not yet penetrated the church's thinking except at the edges of its consciousness and greatly against its will
Several times in his address, Bishop Ingham referred to the church's inability to get beyond a fixation on genital intercourse -- and a negative view of sexuality for any purpose other than procreation as tainted, impure and evil -- isolated from a full, loving interpersonal sexual relationship.


Bishop's take on sexuality ignites debate
An Anglican bishop's call for a new theology of human sexuality would require a shift rivalling the Reformation in size to move Christianity away from the shadow of patriarchy and the too-narrow view of the human person, several theologians said yesterday.
Bishop Michael Ingham of B.C.'s New Westminster diocese told a church conference in Ottawa this week that the church's opposition to birth control, abortion, masturbation and homosexuality is morally groundless because its traditional teaching that sex is reserved for procreation is wrong.
"If we believe that we are created in the image of God, that we carry in our very selves the icon of God's own self in our earthly existence, then we must be able to say that our sexuality is not an accident, not a mistake and not simply a tool for the making of babies -- presumably God, in his infinite wisdom, could have devised a much less potent and complicated way of regenerating the species if the purpose of sex was simply that," he said.
Charles McVety, president of Toronto's evangelical Canada Christian College, talked about a huge and growing chasm between Christians who see the Bible as allegorical and those who see it as the teaching of God. He called the bishop's remarks whimsical, a passing fancy and a distortion of the Bible.
"Scripture is crystal clear," he said. "Sex is not a sport."
And while the Anglican primate of Canada, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, said The Globe and Mail had overblown Bishop Ingham's remarks, academic theologians talked about the enormity of the redefinition of the church that the bishop was trying to get at.
Christopher Lind, former director of the Toronto School of Theology, explained that what the bishop is saying is that "sexuality is a lot bigger than genital activity, and that's hard for people to hear because people hear the word sex and they think intercourse.
"The whole culture has a hard time hearing that sex is something spiritual, that it's something bigger than just intercourse. And when we talk about the [church] blessing of same-sex unions, he makes the case that relationships should be judged on the basis of fidelity, trust, values other than the regulation of genital activity.
"He's starting to go into what's the meaning of patriarchy. Patriarchy is a distortion of the gospel [the central Christian teaching], a social sin which the church has to confess. But to correct it is enormously hard to do. We've been living in patriarchy for thousands of years
It requires a cultural change, Prof. Lind said, comparable in size to the Reformation, the 16th-century movement to reform the church in Western Europe. He added: "I have said for some years now that the church should actually shut up about sex because the church doesn't know what it's talking about. We really have not thought this through."
Richard Leggett, professor of liturgical studies at Vancouver School of Theology, agreed that "to come to grips with the cultural context of [biblical] scriptures will take a Reformation. I think it's been in the works for probably the last hundred years or more as we engage in so-called higher criticisms of the Bible."
And Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton said Bishop Ingham was talking about more than patriarchy, which she called "only one chapter" in the need for a fuller theological understanding of the human person.
"The question is are the other major churches ready to do this or are they going to hide from something that's really a need? That is at the heart of the challenge in Michael Ingham's comments."


Jolie said...

I think we are on the cusp of a big change. I think we are finally at this point due to scientific discovery, being able to talk to anybody at any given moment around the globe thanks to the internet and the increasing liberalness of each progressing generation. These three things will create the stage for religious reform. I believe the next generation will not tolerate such a lack of tolerance in religion. Previously, it was easy to condemn 'those people' who didn't make the 'sex for procreation' grade because those sects of the population were closeted and unseen. Now there are no longer 'those people'; they are our friends, relatives and neighbors. It gets harder and harder to hate people who are gay because now we can actually see them for all that they are and not just their sexuality.

I applaud this Bishop for speaking out and trying to create change. We all know and accept that Christianity has morphed over the years due to people in power who have translated the bible as they saw fit. I think our Christian society should be a bit more flexible and willing to understand what changes were made and what the actual 'intent' of the gospels are.

I'm just so bothered that people can work up this much hostility and anger for a situation that doesn't affect them personally. There are much bigger and better issues that warrant this kind of attention. Why can't we focus on poverty, war and corrupt governments? Things that are actually detrimental to our society. Any love among consenting adults will only make this world a better place and should be encouraged and supported by all.

connie said...

Change in the church occurs very slowly. But blogs like yours and comments like this bishop's will create discussion, which brings about study, which ultimately results in change. My personal belief is that the Creator made each of us exactly the way we are, and loves us exactly the way He made us. He asks each of us to love each other in that same way - unconditionally - without regard to our differences or similarities. It just takes some of us much longer to grasp this concept than it does others, and sadly, some never do.

Keep up the wonderfully enlightening blogs, Dan. You are making a difference.