Category : Sexuality

(Church Times) Welsh same sex marriage blessing bill passes for 5 year experimental period

Several clergy acknowledged the struggles they had on the issue. The Revd Richard Wood (Bangor) believed that those opposed to the Bill had been misrepresented: “We disagree how we read scripture. I stand here not as a bigot, but as someone who has struggled to a point where I believe this Bill would be crossing a boundary,” he said. “My position has been maligned. A pastoral response is not to offer kindness for kindness’s sake….”

Bishop Cameron, summing up the debate, described it as “the most difficult job I’ve ever been given”. He sought to assure the Evangelical constituency that he had not chosen to misrepresent or condemn their views.

“When I talked about my understanding of scripture, I was speaking autobiographically. It was not intended as rubbishing of conservative Evangelical thinking, theology, or ministry.

“But I don’t agree with you that the Bible can only be read as hostile to gay relationships. I refuse to be told that I am ‘unorthodox’. . . We should not ‘disfellowship’ each other because we do not agree on this issue. . . Christ compels me to stand with the vulnerable and oppressed. I will not betray them at any price in this world or the next.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Wales, Anthropology, Church of Wales, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(C of E) An update on timing for the John Smyth Review from the National Safeguarding Team

Read it all and for background please see there.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Youth Ministry

(PD) Abigail Favale–Feminism’s Last Battle

Feminism needs a serious reality check. In a Foucauldian framework that views reality as constructed by power, one must oppose reality in order to resist oppression. If the feminist movement hopes to endure and effectively advocate the dignity of women and girls worldwide, it must depart from the anti-realist path that led to this bloody battleground. To survive the pending Armageddon, feminism must lose its paranoid rejection of essential differences between the sexes. This does not mean a reversion to cartoonish, reductive caricatures. Men and women are different, but they are not polarized opposites; our difference is asymmetrical, consonant with a shared humanity and individual inimitability.

Only from a realist ground can we successfully discern which differences are a consequence of sexism, and which are not. Only from a realist ground can one make the confident argument that a man cannot merely opt into womanhood, because there is a pre-social givenness to womanness, a nature that is shaped by nurture, but not wholly conjured by it.

Institutional power and language profoundly influence how we perceive reality; that’s something the postmodernists get right. But to assert that power creates reality is to concede that woman is a construct—a concession that, for the feminist movement, will ultimately prove to be fatal.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Sexuality

(FT) Carl Trueman–On the Presbyterian Church in America and Questions of Sexuality

The summer of 2021 is proving to be an interesting time for the conservative Protestant denominations of the U.S. First, the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting witnessed the contentious election of a new president, who was engulfed in controversy almost as soon as the result was announced. Then the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) met in St. Louis for a General Assembly (GA) that was inevitably focused on questions of sexual identity and Christianity that have been brought to the fore by Revoice. In particular: Is it acceptable for a Christian minister to identify as a celibate gay Christian, thereby legitimizing “gay” as an identity, while still maintaining the traditional Christian teaching on sexual acts?

To outside observers of the PCA, like myself, the result was encouraging and surprising. What happened, as outlined here and here, was that the Assembly voted to propose several changes to the denomination’s Book of Church Order (the manual of church law) that would prevent anyone who identifies as gay or same-sex-attracted from holding office in the denomination. The proposed new rule states, “Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, ‘gay Christian,’ ‘same-sex attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian,’ or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires . . . or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.” The Assembly also proposed to make examination of a ministerial candidate’s attitude to his sexual struggles part of the ordination process. Both proposals passed with huge majorities and will now be discussed by the presbyteries. If approved by two-thirds of them, they will be subject to a final vote for approval, by simple majority, at next year’s GA.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Should the church ‘let the world set the agenda’ on ethics and doctrine?

What is most sad about Bayes’ argument is the attitude it betrays of those who disagree with him. Unlike those enlightened members of MoSAIC, who are on an exciting journey of learning, the orthodox are apparently stuck in the past, refusing to learn, and trapped in a fear of sex and of their own bodies. They are either asleep, or they are anti-liberal authoritarians, no better than reactionary racists or those who despise the disabled. This dismissive and patronising language is hardly the approach that the LLF process, signed off by Bayes as part of the House of Bishops, wanted to encourage; it is the most exclusive kind of ‘inclusion’.

How Bayes can act as a shepherd to the orthodox in his diocese, whilst viewing them in this way, I do not know. What is worse is that he has made these comments public—so he must intend those whose views he dismisses to know that he views them with such derision.

And how he can be a teacher of the faith, when he waves away actual theological reflection as ‘glittering arguments of the brain’?

A clergy friend of mine made this comment online:

The Church has always grown when its offered a radical alternative to an increasingly morally lost and confused society and, when becoming a member of the Church carries a risk—the test of commitment factor. On my knowledge of rural demographics I think we have 5–7 years left before around 80% of all C of E rural churches will close due to non viability—if not before. But a new, confident Church, anchored to biblical orthodoxy but with the Spirit’s liberating gracious welcome, can offer what our lost and vacuous society needs right now.

Some years ago, gay atheist Matthew Parris said something similar.

As a gay atheist, I want to see the church oppose same-sex marriage…Even as a (gay) atheist, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in our English church, or the Roman church, to frame the argument against Christianity’s slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change?

Can’t these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters’ arithmetic? What has the Irish referendum shown us? It is that a majority of people in the Republic of Ireland in 2015 do not agree with their church’s centuries-old doctrine that sexual relationships between two people of the same gender are a sin. Fine: we cannot doubt that finding. But can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtue and vice? Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he’d better defer to Moloch-worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do?

It must surely be implicit in the claim of any of the world’s great religions that on questions of morality, a majority may be wrong; but this should be vividly evident to Christians in particular: they need only consider the fate of their Messiah, and the persecution of adherents to the Early Church. ‘Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you.’… These, and not the gays, are now the reviled ones. Popular revulsion cannot make them wrong.

Unless other bishops speak out and offer better leadership and a clearer vision, with bishops like Paul Bayes, who deny the doctrine of their own church, despise those who do, and prefer the agenda of the world to God’s own revelation of himself, the Church of England is doomed.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Church of England should completely alter its sexual ethics says Bishop of Liverpool

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Outdoor civil weddings and partnerships get the go ahead in England and Wales

Civil weddings will be permitted to take place outdoors for the first time in England and Wales from next month.

The ceremonies at approved premises such as hotels currently need to be in a room or other permanent structure.

The change, which also applies to civil partnerships, will allow outdoor ceremonies from July to next April, and will mean more guests can attend events affected by social-distancing rules.

A consultation will take place to see if the change should become permanent.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Wales, Church of England (CoE), Church of Wales, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(CT) Supreme Court Sides with Catholic Foster Care Agency

The United States Supreme Court ruled decisively in favor of a Catholic foster care agency on Thursday, with all nine justices agreeing that the city of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty when it ended a contract with Catholic Social Services (CSS) over service to…[prospective adoptees with same-sex parents].

“It is plain that the City’s actions have burdened CSS’s religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships inconsistent with its beliefs,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Philadelphia claimed the city could not contract foster care services with a Catholic agency that only served married heterosexual couples because of an antidiscrimination law ensuring that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, has equal access to public accommodations. The court found, however, that foster parenting is not a “public accommodation,” since certification is not available to the public and “bears little resemblance to staying in a hotel, eating at a restaurant, or riding a bus.”

According to the court, there was also no evidence presented in the record that the Catholic agency’s policies ever prevented a same-sex couple from fostering a child, or that it would have that effect.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Roman Catholic, Supreme Court, Urban/City Life and Issues

(PD) Alexander Riley–Who Knew Émile Durkheim Was a Conservative on Sex and Marriage?

Durkheim was a trenchant critic of the contractual view of marriage, in which the relationship is said to involve only the two spouses and to depend entirely on their satisfaction with each other. In his 1906 essay “Divorce by Mutual Consent,” he criticized the liberalization of divorce that many secular intellectuals then championed. Like their counterparts today, the latter argued that it was clearly in the interests of both parents—and frequently of their children—for marriage to be dissolvable by agreement of the spouses alone. Durkheim countered that such a shift potentially harms the institution of matrimony itself.

Durkheim noted empirical evidence that divorce affects suicide rates. Marriage appeared to significantly reduce the likelihood of suicide, and in the parts of Durkheim’s France in which divorce was more common, this positive effect of marriage was weaker. Although married women were less likely to commit suicide only if their marriage had yielded children, for married men the risk was less in many scenarios. Absent an exterior regulatory force or presence, Durkheim reasoned, individual men are largely ineffective at moderating their sexual energies, and they end up emotionally distressed and dissolute. The marital institution regulates their desires. However, he went on, “Regulation from which one can withdraw whenever one has a notion is no longer regulation.” By removing the judge—the representative of society, whose authority historically extends from the religious origins of the polity—from the decision-making process of divorce, contractual marriage inevitably weakens the regulatory force of marriage.

Durkheim also insisted that marriage affects parties beyond the two spouses, most obviously their children. Children so change the marital relationship that, once they exist, they alter the marriage’s purpose. In Durkheim’s view, the couple, formerly the end of the relationship, becomes but a means to the end of the family for which they are responsible. Spouses’ obligation to their children clearly invalidates a model for divorce based merely on mutual consent.

Even the partners themselves may benefit from marriages that they would rather escape out of anger or spite. Although in a few marriages disharmony between the spouses may be so great that separation is the only reasonable path, Durkheim maintained that there are many, many more “simply mediocre marriages”—exciting and joyous only in an irregular, inconstant manner—that nonetheless produce “sufficient feeling for . . . [the] duty . . . to fulfill [one’s] function.” They thereby they provide a significant social good. This argument was almost perfectly consonant with that of the Christian conservatives of Durkheim’s day. It also scandalizes most contemporary sociologists, who have moved far from the origins of their discipline.

Read it all.

Posted in France, History, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sociology

(Australian Presbyterian.) David Robertson–Welcome to the Sexual Counter Reformation

And so we have come on to a crisis point. Some think it is a turning point. The Spectator last week published its Americano podcast with the intriguing title “Is the sexual counterrevolution coming?”. https://www.spectator.co.uk/podcast/is-the-sexual-counterrevolution-coming-

It is a revealing and fascinating listen (although wrong in some respects as regards Christianity and Calvinism). Along with some articles published a couple of years earlier it points to a world where sexual freedom has led to sexual fear and to a new secular puritanism. Every word is to be scrutinized, safe spaces established, ‘women-only’ carriages on trains’ etc. In an era that is obsessed with sex (was it ever different?) and where we have such sexual freedom, the irony is that many are concluding that it’s better not to have sex at all. We live in a world where Fifty Shades of Grey is feted as feminist erotica, even though it glorifies male dominance and violence, while a man putting his hand on a woman’s knee is an evil sign of the patriarchy. Our answer to misogyny (hatred of women) is apparently misandry (hatred of men). Put those two together and you end up with misanthropy (hatred of human beings). In the age of humanism we are heading towards a society that likes the idea of humanity; it’s just humans it can’t stand.

There are some Christians who think that this backlash is a good thing and that it might herald better days ahead. I’m not convinced. I think that we live in a confused, hurting and increasingly irrational culture, where the gods of money, power and sex still reign. I don’t believe that a return to a perceived golden age of Victorian morality is either possible or desirable. What we really need is to go back even further – to the 1st century Greco-Roman Pagan world.

In a sense we are already there. Unlike the myth sold us by the false apostles of the new sexual revolution, this was not a time of sexual bliss but one of confusion, abuse, slavery, sexual diseases, infanticide and abortion, immorality, and the rich and powerful ruling over and using the poor and weak. In other words instead of our society progressing we have regressed to the Greco/Roman/Pagan past. We have gone back to the future.

So it’s simple. Christians should do in the 21st century, what it did in the 1st: preach the Gospel, care for the poor, avoid all sexual immorality, live in a community of love and fellowship and keep ourselves from being tainted by the world.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SA) Sydney Diocese: No tolerance for abuse

All Anglicans should be deeply grieved by the study released this week by the Anglican Church of Australia on domestic and family violence.

“Like my predecessor, I want to state clearly that all forms of domestic abuse are incompatible with Scripture and Christian faith,” said the new Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel. “Nothing justifies violence or coercion. Christian relationships are to be marked by love, gentleness and respect.”

The report, outlined here, indicates the prevalence of family abuse was the same or higher than in the wider Australian community. The report will be studied to determine ways to further strengthen responses to domestic abuse and family violence within church communities and a ten point commitment has been enacted by the General Synod, as well as work already undertaken in the Sydney Diocese. “There is much work to do and our shock and sadness should stir us into further action,” said Archbishop Raff

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, Violence

(Christian Today) I was a Smyth victim too, says Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate William Taylor

Taylor said he had desired to keep his abuse private but felt compelled to make a public statement after some critics on social media suggested he had been involved in a cover-up.

“My heart goes out to all those abused by Smyth in this country and in Africa,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

David Ould–Bishop of Gippsland supports Synod motion endorsing extra-marital relationships

The Gippsland Anglican reports in its June edition:

One of the Bishop-in-Council motions was to add a preamble to Section 7 of Faithfulness in Service so that a member of the clergy or church worker in a committed and monogamous relationship is not considered to be breaching two clauses therein “because that relationship does not have the status of a marriage solemnised according to an Anglican marriage rite.” The clauses in question refer to “chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.”

In his presidential address, Bishop Richard said, “… for years, we have been expecting people who are in faithful, committed relationships that either do not constitute marriage, or do not correspond with our church’s doctrine of marriage, either to sign [up to Faithfulness in Service] with their fingers crossed, or to walk away. Why should their conscience bear that burden?”

Read it all and make sure to take the time to read the bishop’s full address.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(StR) Greg Koukl–Why Pronouns Matter…a Lot

John said Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). Christ’s character helps us navigate the gender minefield. We protect people’s feelings (“grace”)—within reason—but we reject the narrative (“truth”). Three separate circumstances require three different responses.

First, I think we should call people by the names they choose for themselves. Names are different from pronouns since names are personal preferences by nature. Pronouns, though, refer to sex—a fixed feature of reality, not a preference. (With your own children, though, you may insist on a name consistent with their biology.)

Second, if you’re required to post your preferred pronoun, do not simply report your accurate gender. That reinforces the lie that pronouns reflect mere personal preference. Instead, post this: “I don’t have a preferred pronoun. I have a sex. I’m male [for example].”

This characterization is completely self-reflective. It says nothing about anyone but you. In principle, at least, it should not be a problem. You were asked for a self-assessment. You gave it. End of issue. Refuse to participate in the lie.

Third, if you’re asked to use preferred pronouns when speaking of others, then graciously, but firmly, refuse. Tell them this is not your view, so it would be dishonest and inauthentic to act like it was. Just say no. Hold your ground.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

The BBC Story on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘personal apology’ over charity abuse

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a “full personal apology” to the survivors of abuse by former barrister John Smyth QC in the 1970s and 80s.

Smyth, who died aged 77 in 2018, violently beat boys who attended Christian summer camps.

Justin Welby said: “I am sorry this was done in the name of Jesus Christ by a perverted version of spirituality and evangelicalism.”

Survivors who recently met Mr Welby welcomed him “taking responsibility”.

In a statement issued by Lambeth Palace, the archbishop said: “I continue to hear new details of the abuse and my sorrow, shock and horror grows.

“The Church has a duty to look after those who have been harmed. We have not always done that well.”

He said the Church’s safeguarding team will investigate every clergyperson which they suspect “knew and failed to disclose the abuse”.

Mr Welby worked in the evangelical Christian camps for public schoolboys run by Smyth, but denies any knowledge of the abuse at the time.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence, Youth Ministry

Statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the abuse carried out by John Smyth QC

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(TGC) Justin Taylor–Questions for David French on the Connections between the Atlanta Killer and Purity Culture

But what’s the evidence that the shooter, who would have been in youth group during the presidencies of Obama and Trump, was taught the toxic purity culture that peaked in the 1990s?

My argument is not “no evidence will ever or could ever exist,” but rather “no one actually knows, and therefore we shouldn’t draw that connection until and unless evidence emerges.”

If I was a betting man, I would actually put a hefty wager on this young man having heard the normative / traditional / orthodox teaching on sexuality that David French taught his youth group instead of the toxic legalism that Bill Gothard taught.

And if that’s true, then the argument of this piece basically falls apart. It could become a good standalone article on purity culture, but not a very illuminating one of the killer and his theological culture.

(By the way, if you want to hear from the church itself, you can read their statement.)

So my encouragement to everyone: let’s slow down on drawing connections that might seem obvious but are actually quite tenuous.

Read it all.

Update: Terry Mattingly also has helpful reflections Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Youth Ministry

David French–Why the Atlanta Massacre Triggered a Conversation About Purity Culture

As this conversation unfolds, it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, the purity culture I’m describing never fully captured the church. Millions of people have thankfully lived their entire Christian lives free from the extremes I’ve described above.

Second, however, it’s absolutely vital that Christians do not leave the task of confronting extremes to a secular world and media that is often hostile to (or doesn’t understand) Christian orthodoxy itself. The secular critique is typically all confrontation, no redemption.

The Christian response, however, requires both confrontation and redemption. It recognizes that Christ holds the answer when the church fails. As I’ve written before when addressing the failures and faults of the purity movement, through Christ even stories of past pain and suffering can be redeemed and transformed into instruments of grace and mercy.

Shortly after we received the first reports about the Atlanta killer’s motives, my friend and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Karen Swallow Prior tweeted two insightful words, “Culture cultivates.” A culture that defines a person by their sexual sin cultivates misery. When it places women in a position of guarding a man’s heart, it cultivates abuse. And sometimes, when a man’s heart is particularly dark, it can even cultivate murder.

The problem with purity culture is not Christianity. The problem with purity culture is that its extremes are not Christian at all.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Youth Ministry

(NPR Goats+Soda) Nearly 1 In 3 Women Experience Violence: Landmark Report From WHO

The numbers are stark – and startling.

Around the world, almost 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization. That number has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, WHO said.

The report, which WHO says is the largest-ever study of the prevalence of violence against women, draws upon data from 161 countries and areas on women and girls age 15 and up collected between 2000 and 2018. So it does not account for the impact of the pandemic. Lockdowns and related restrictions on movement have led to widespread reports of a “shadow pandemic” — a surge in violence against women and girls around the world, as many found themselves trapped at home with their abusers.

The figures “really bring to the fore how widely prevalent this problem already was” even prior to the pandemic, said WHO’s Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, one of the report’s authors. She says researchers won’t know the pandemic’s true impact on violence against women until they can conduct new population-based surveys again in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(AC) Rod Dreher–Ryan T. Anderson Was Made For This Moment

When he was running for president, Joe Biden vowed to sign the Equality Act if elected. Now that both the House and the Senate are in the hands of Democrats, odds are that the Equality Act will pass. Why does this concern you?

First, thankfully, odds are still against the bill becoming law. If the legislative filibuster remains, the Equality Act goes nowhere in the Senate. If they somehow convince Senator Manchin to vote to remove the legislative filibuster, then we’re in a different situation. The question would then be whether Senator McConnell can keep all 50 republicans opposed (and early signs are good as Senator Collins has said she now opposes the Equality Act). That would then leave a 50-50 split with VP Harris casting the deciding vote—unless, of course, Senator Manchin broke ranks and opposed the bill.

Second, why is the Equality Act so disconcerting? My most recent short treatment can be found last week in the New York Post. But I’ve been writing about the harms of the Equality Act, and its predecessor the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, since 2013. In books, law review articles, essays, op-eds, white papers, etc. etc. my basic argument has been that it gets the nature of the human person wrong, and by enshrining a false anthropology into law it’ll cause serious harms. (Basic idea being straight from MLK, who was building on Aquinas and Augustine, that for man-made law to be just, it needs to embody the natural law and the eternal law.)

The equality act would take a just law—the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which banned discrimination on the basis of race, and then add “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” everywhere that race is protected. It expands the number of private businesses that would now be classified as public accommodations. And it explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). And it’s important to point out that because “sex” isn’t currently a protected class in Title II (public accommodations) or Title VI (federal funding recipients), by adding “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” to those titles the only religious liberty protections the Equality Act allows for would be those available to racists.

So the short answer is that the Equality Act treats people and institutions that believe we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other, as the legal equivalent of racists. And then all of the negative consequences for privacy and safety in single-sex facilities, for equality and fairness for athletics, for medicine when it comes to gender dysphoria (and abortion, see my NYPost op-ed) follow from that. If you get human nature wrong in law, there are consequences.

Because the vast majority of those consequences are not simply about “religious liberty,” the so-called Fairness for All alternative to the Equality Act isn’t actually fair, at all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(First Things) Hans Boersma on the recent ACNA kerfuffle over Christian anthropology and pastoral care

Whither the ACNA? Much will depend on its ability to keep the theological and the pastoral together.

First, we should avoid blaming our Christian heritage or the contemporary church for singling out the sin of homosexuality. Such self-blame is understandable: It is a way of dealing with the emotional hardship caused by same-sex attraction. But this introspection is, for the most part, unwarranted. Traditional Christian morality does not single out homosexuality, whereas making it part of one’s identity does. Besides, power roles have reversed: In today’s therapeutic culture, insisting on one’s gay identity mostly gets applauded, while it requires great courage to speak and write biblically about homosexuality. And while greed, adultery, etc. are all wrong, Scripture hardly supports the notion that all sins are of equal weight.

Third, we should keep in mind that the primary pastoral context of sin is alienation from God. If disordered sexual desires lead us away from a right relationship with God, then that is the key pastoral issue that we must address. The primary pastoral context, then, is not the feeling of exclusion from fellow believers as a result of sexual identity. It’s not that the latter doesn’t powerfully function; it obviously does. But it does so because of the way we have wedded sexual desire to human identity—a unique characteristic of today’s Western therapeutic culture. Carl Trueman’s recent book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, is a must-read to untangle the cultural web that we have spun for ourselves and a welcome antidote to the inexorable drift toward acceptance of disordered desire.

Please note, I am not encouraging us to ignore the pastoral. Quite the opposite: I am convinced we’re often not pastoral enough.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNA) Clarity In The Midst Of Confusion: A Provincial Statement On The Events Of The Week

From there:

In January of this year, the College of Bishops released a statement on human sexuality and identity which reiterated the biblical position that the Province was founded upon in 2009, a position fully aligned with the Jerusalem Declaration and Lambeth 1.10. While the culture in North America has moved further away from the biblical understanding of sexuality and human identity, the Anglican Church in North America has not moved.

This week, a lay person dissented from the College of Bishop’s statement in a public letter and instigated the very confusion that the College of Bishops warned would happen if its members did not heed this pastoral advice. The confusion was made worse by a misleading claim that Provincial approval had been given for the letter; it had not.

We encourage those who have concerns to again read the Statement itself, “Sexuality and Identity: A Pastoral Statement from the College of Bishops,” rather than be distracted by inaccurate commentary and misleading open letters. For additional context we also commend the letter, “Identity Matters,” from the bishop who chaired the taskforce. If you continue to have questions or concerns, please contact your local bishop. If you are an international partner, you can contact the Provincial Office at communications@anglicanchurch.net

The Anglican Church in North America remains committed to being a place where Christians who experience same-sex attraction can come alongside other brothers and sisters in Christ seeking to be more closely conformed to the character of Jesus, and grow in biblical holiness, righteousness, and godliness. Together, we will continue to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) Archbishop Beach writes to the Diocese of the South about some recent developments

Commemoration of Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna Martyr, 156

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing today to address a letter which was put out yesterday via social media. A group led by aspirant, Pieter Valk, has put out a letter entitled, Dear Gay Anglicans, in response to the College of Bishops’ pastoral letter on identity. If you have not seen the letter, you can find it HERE.

While it says they are not undermining our Pastoral Statement, they actually are. Replacing “gay Christian” with “gay Anglican” is pretty much in your face. My immediate reaction to the letter was that it was pretty benign and wasn’t going to change anything about what we teach.

However, it has already had international ramifications. I have had to deal with two provinces already (actually now three as of a few minutes ago) — and this is just the first day. In many of our partner provinces, the practice of homosexuality is against the law, and to make matters more difficult, they usually don’t understand the nuances of the word “gay” or “homosexual attraction” — they just hear the practice of same-sex immorality.

In the province, the expected hard rhetoric is coming from both sides in reaction to this. I find our lack of charity in the province a serious blind spot we need to address. Many of our bishops, and rightly so, feel this is an attempt to undermine our roles as guardians of the Faith and teachers of the doctrine of the Church. Some individuals have expressed that we are now TEC 2.0. Some think this is going to break the ACNA apart — one quote I received tonight: “If I had to guess what might fracture the ACNA I would’ve said women’s ordination. I never would have thought it would be homosexuality. We gave up everything to take a clear stand on this. It is disheartening to have it being taken away.” I could go on, but you get the point.

This is serious enough, however, that I am writing this at 1:15 am.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) This South Carolina human trafficking survivor is drawing from her past to tackle the problem

As South Carolina’s leaders pledge to end human trafficking and prosecute its perpetrators, a Lowcountry woman is pulling their focus to the survivors of such horrors.

Kat Wehunt, who survived years of sex trafficking as a teenager, knows she’s lucky to have escaped. But she worries that her peers in the Palmetto State don’t have a simple, thorough and accessible system to help them maintain a life free from abuse.

Her solution is The Formation Project, the state’s only survivor-led nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking. While law enforcement, legislators and faith leaders work to pull victims from their abusers, Wehunt focuses on the next step: connecting them with resources to make sure they’re able to thrive for the rest of their lives with the physical and emotional support they deserve.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(BBC) ‘Their goal is to destroy everyone’: Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

Read it all.

Article content may not be suitable for some blog readers–KSH.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(NYT) The Case of the Serial Sperm Donor–One man, hundreds of children and a burning question: Why?

In 2015, Vanessa van Ewijk, a carpenter in the Netherlands, decided that she wanted to have a child. She was 34 and single, and so, like many women, she sought out a sperm donor.

She considered conceiving through a fertility clinic, but the cost was prohibitive for her. Instead, she found an ideal candidate through a website called Desire for a Child, one of a growing number of online sperm markets that match candidate donors directly with potential recipients. Ms. van Ewijk was drawn to one profile in particular, that of Jonathan Jacob Meijer, a Dutch musician in his 30s.

Mr. Meijer was handsome, with blue eyes and a mane of curly blond hair. Ms. van Ewijk liked how genuine he appeared. “I spoke to him on the phone and he seemed gentle and kind and well-behaved,” she said. “He liked music, and he talked about his thoughts on life. He didn’t come on strong in any sense. He seemed like the boy next door.”

About a month later, after some back-and-forth, she and Mr. Meijer arranged to meet at Central Station, a busy railway hub in The Hague. He provided her with his sperm, and in return she paid him 165 euros, about $200, and covered his travel costs. Months later she gave birth to a daughter — her first child and, Mr. Meijer told her, his eighth….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology

(NLJ) Angela Franks–The Body as Totem in the Asexual Revolution

Legal theorist Helen Alvaré observes that the twentieth century saw a sea change in jurisprudence, whereby “certain forms of sexual expression achieved constitutional status and came to be identified with nothing less than a human being’s ‘identity.’”[1] Tracing this change, beginning with the early contraception cases Griswold v. Connecticut (1968) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), Alvaré shows how the Supreme Court gradually came to embrace a constructivist view of personal identity that was inextricably linked to sexual activity. We become who we are, that is, through our sexual choices.

This is especially true for women, the Court held, because of the possibility of motherhood resulting from said sexual choices. If women are unduly burdened by children, which might disincentivize them to engage in sexual relationships, what happens to their identity? This identity-formation-through-sex rationale is especially clear in the notorious 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, the Court writes, women have “organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.”[2] Without contraception and abortion, what happens to women’s self-definition? This idea is driven home by the purplest of legal prose in the decision’s famous “mystery of human life” passage:

These matters [of reproduction], involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.[3]

“While Casey’s soaring language is certainly subject to varying interpretations,” Alvaré observes, “at the very least it can be said that it firmly linked women’s ability to avoid childrearing following sexual intercourse, with her interest in forming her personal identity.”[4]

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, Sexuality, Supreme Court

Mark Yarnhouse–Reflections on The ACNA Pastoral Statement

Several years ago, when I was on sabbatical in Cambridge, I was asked to speak to a group of conservative clerics in London about research on sexual orientation and identity. I was delighted to learn that Wesley Hill was also speaking. Wes describes himself as a celibate gay Christian and I recall the graciousness with which the clerics received Wes, although they themselves had questions about such a designation. The spirit of the time together was that they had convened brothers and sisters in Christ to discuss what is often referred to as a traditional Christian sexual ethic and how that ethic intersects with scientific research and the lives of people actually living out that ethic in meaningful ways.

Reading through the recently published Pastoral Statement from the College of Bishops in the Anglican Church in North America on Sexuality and Identity reminded me of this event, perhaps because sections of the statement stand in contrast to some of what I experienced that day.

After the Preamble and Purpose, the statement itself address same-sex relationships, identity and transformation, and identity and language. Let me offer a few thoughts on each of these three sections….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Sexuality And Identity: A Pastoral Statement From ACNA The College Of Bishops

The Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) offer this pastoral statement to the Church after prayer, study, careful listening to disparate voices, and a collaborative process involving contributions from across the Province. As a result of this process, we have become even more acutely aware of the power we all need to live faithfully in Jesus Christ as He redeems the whole of our identity, including our sexuality.

The College of Bishops asked for the formation of this statement in January of 2020 after we heard reports of varied application among ACNA leaders regarding the use of language about sexual identity, especially within provincial events. We recognize there are a multiplicity of realities in our current national, political, and global circumstances into which an episcopal voice could be presented. In the midst of this tragic pandemic, we desire to continue to minister the Gospel into all aspects of our common life that have been distorted by sin such as racism, persecution, injustice, and violence, while also speaking to this specific issue of identity and sexuality. We hope this circumspect statement will speak pastorally to the issue of sexuality and the use of language within our provincial church.

Our foundation is the Scriptural truth that God made us male and female in His image—a profound unity with distinction (Genesis 1:27). God established marriage between male and female to fill the earth through procreation (Genesis 1:28). Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught that marriage is the model of God’s relation to humanity, the Church. It is a sacramental type of union by which humans work out their salvation with, and in, God’s grace. It requires a lifetime of commitment joined, blessed, and sustained by God between one man and one woman for the purposes of raising children and bearing the image of Christ’s relationship with the Church (Matthew 19:1-12, Ephesians 5:21-33). Yet, Jesus and Paul also extol, and themselves exemplify, the model of virginity for life and spirituality (2 Corinthians 11:1-2). They establish Christian celibacy as a normal, while less common, vocation of abstinent singleness for the sake of the kingdom (Matthew 19:1-12, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40).

Furthermore, we equally affirm, following Paul, that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We say, with Augustine, that this Fall has affected our lives in destructive ways that have disordered our affections. While same-sex attraction is one manifest type of disordered affection, there are many other types of disordered affections. Indeed, we recognize that same-sex sexual relationships have been an oft-targeted sin while other sinful manifestations of our common fallen nature, such as pornography, adultery, divorce, greed, and disregard for the poor have sometimes been tragically discounted or even ignored.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(PD) Timothy P. O’Malley–A Communion of Anxiety: Hookup Culture and the Impossible Horizon of the Future

For those of us who are married and with kids, these micro-transformations are most of our life. We change diapers, play endless games of horsey with toddlers, teach our kids to read and write, ask our teen the questions that matter, and endure the wrath of the same teen when we limit their use of a digital device. We do this because we hope in a future in which truth, goodness, and beauty will be passed on not by us but by our progeny. After all, we will be very dead. But the pursuit of wisdom will continue through our children, who hand on the gift of life to their children, and so on until a future generation knows us exclusively because of a seventh-grade family history project on the part of our great-great-great-great granddaughter.

All of this may seem a strange way to deal with hookup culture and an increasing fear of procreation. But if hookup culture and the anxiety of introducing children into this world is about fear of the future, then we must uphold the gift of commitment, stability, and those small acts of love that no human being will recognize as an accomplishment worth fêting.

It is precisely through these micro-transformations that a future will be created that is marked by generosity and communion. In other words, a future in which everyone will introduce children into a world that is very good.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults