Category : Sexuality

Archbishop Peter Jensen–How important is Sex?

To say that we need to stop talking about sex and start talking about Jesus makes two big errors.

First, it undervalues the power of sexual transgression to damage us as human beings and to damage our relationship with God. Our sexual instincts are so powerful and so central to our lives that they are integral to our personal identity. When we misuse our body by abandoning God’s instructions, it helps corrupt our self-understanding. It is actually cruel.

Furthermore, when we turn away from the living God, we replace him by the worship of idols. Again, this worship is often expressed and accompanied by sexual licence. Indeed we are living at a time when sexual permissiveness is the norm and there is no fear of God.

Second, it means that we cannot adequately summons people to repentance. Without the call to repentance there is no gospel. The great sin from which we need to repent is pride – lives directed by ourselves. But this great sin exhibits itself in idolatry, and idolatry often expresses itself in sexual sin as well as the horrors of greed and injustice and lack of love.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(Independent) Definition of marriage has now ‘evolved’ to include same-sex couples, EU court says

The European Union must compel EU countries that have not yet legalised same-sex marriage to recognise gay weddings held in other nations, a landmark legal statement from the EU’s highest court has recommended.

The European Court of Justice’s advocate general said in an official legal opinion on Thursday morning that there had been “evolution” in the societies of EU countries, and that the idea that “the term marriage means a union between two persons of the opposite sex can no longer be followed”.

If the advocate general’s recommendation is followed by the ECJ, EU citizens will be allowed to bring in their same-sex spouses from non-EU countries to live with them in any EU member states under free movement rules – a right some countries only recognise for opposite-sex marriages.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(First Things) Kyle Harper: The 1st Sexual Revolution–How Christianity transformed the ancient world

It is easy enough, and not entirely misleading, to say that Paul’s thought was compressed by the heavy weight of the apocalyptic atmosphere. He wanted his churches to live devotedly toward the coming age, during the small slice of time remaining. But that never led ancient Christians to doubt the larger significance of Paul’s austere counsels. After all, as the time between Christ’s ascension and return lengthened, the entire orthodox tradition in early Christianity chose not to write off Paul’s rigorism as a distortion of his apocalyptic lens; quite the opposite, it tended to accentuate the more extreme and anti-erotic possibilities latent in his thought. The possibility of full-blown Encratism stalked much of early Christian history. (Auden’s “Roman Wall Blues” is about right: “Piso’s a Christian, he worships a fish; / There’d be no kissing if he had his wish.”) In the second century, Clement of Alexandria held fast to the view that within marriage, only sex solely for the purpose of procreation was permissible. Not until the Jovinianist controversy was extinguished in the late fourth century, and Augustine’s tour de force “Of the Good of Marriage” was written, did it become completely clear within Christianity that marriage could be a genuine good and not merely some kind of lesser evil.

Over this same span of centuries, the Church gradually worked out another revolutionary implication of Paul’s message: Sexual morality would require moral agency for all persons, even those whose bodies were beyond the field of vision for ancient thinkers. In today’s terms, Christian sexual morality was inclusive. To be sure, Paul hardly announced the legal emancipation of the unfree. But already (so I have argued, though not all agree) Paul’s ban on porneia restricted one of the slave-owner’s most ordinary prerogatives: sexual access to his slaves. We can trace a dawning awareness in the early Church, unlike anything in pagan antiquity, of the sexual integrity of all persons. By the fifth century, Christian emperors were actually taking proactive (if still, by our standards, limited) measures to protect the bodily integrity of vulnerable women. The heightened place of sexuality in the overarching structure of morality, the respect for the human dignity of all persons, and the insistence on the value of the transcendent and sacred over the secular and the civic—these all went hand in hand in the growth of Christian culture.

Paul’s prohibition on fornication, his highly qualified acceptance of the practical necessity of marriage, and the liberatory movement of Christian individualism form a coherent ethic: For the early Christians, sexual morality was woven inseparably into their whole effort to live rightly in the world. Sex, by its essence, is entangled in the most fundamental questions about the nature of the self and its relation to God. Once launched, the revolution was not easily contained, and when the early Christians tore sexual morality away from the familiar outlines provided by the civic background, the repercussions were not confined to one discrete section of the moral code. Sex came to occupy a place in the foreground of moral instruction in a way that it simply never had in Judaism, or even the most stringent pagan philosophies. The conspicuous austerity of the early Christians caught the eye of early observers, including the Greek doctor Galen. In the competitive marketplace of Roman imperial religion, the way in which Paul loaded questions of sexual morality with dramatic salvific significance gave the moral teaching of this small but vocal movement a particular flavor. The proclamation of the gospel and this strange, spiritualized rigorism were inseparable.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WBUR’s On Point) The Divisions In Christianity Over Sex

Five hundred years ago, Christianity was split in two by the Protestant Reformation. Today, Christians are divided again. But this time, it’s not the authority of the pope or the nature of worship in question, it’s sex. What’s moral, what’s not; what the Bible says, what it doesn’t say. What does it mean to be a Christian in the midst of a culture war? Two sides, with dueling manifestos. This hour, On Point: sex and the future of Christianity. –Tom Gjelten

Read the rest and listen to it all (a little over 47 minutes).

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Polyamory, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology: Scripture

(TGC) Ed Shaw–Figuring Out Faithfulness with Same-Sex Attraction

There has been a recent avalanche of books from a biblical and traditional perspective on same-sex attraction. Each brings a different viewpoint, with many writing from their own experiences of same-sex attraction. Both of us also experience same-sex attraction; we’ve benefited immensely from the variety books on this topic and trust that the church has as well.

The latest addition is from Nate Collins in All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality. Collins—a partner associate at The Sight Ministry, a Christian organization based in Nashville that provides resources and support for individuals, families, and Christian organizations regarding LGBT issues—likewise writes out of experience and from a traditional, biblical approach.

But what justifies yet another book on these subjects? More books are justified by the other, more powerful cultural avalanche that has nearly buried us all—the new attitudes and approach to gender and sexuality created by the sexual revolution of the last 50 years. More recently, acceptance of same-sex marriage has slipped in the evangelical church through the influential books of James Brownson (at an academic level) and Matthew Vines(at a popular one).

In response, those of us coming from a traditional perspective have had a lot of rescue work to do. But both avalanches have left us with a new landscape where some differences of opinion have emerged among those who espouse a traditional view on same-sex attraction….

 

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Posted in Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

(CT) Evangelicals and Domestic Violence: Are Christian Men More Abusive?

So, what does the science tell us? Are some forms of evangelical Protestantism bad for marriage and “good” at fostering domestic violence?

The answer is complicated, since some research suggests that gender traditionalism fuels domestic violence. For example, a study in the Lancet found that domestic abuse was higher in regions across the globe where “norms related to male authority over female behavior” are more common.

In general, however, the answer to these questions is “no.” In my previous book, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands, I found that women married to churchgoing evangelical men—compared to women married to men in other major religious traditions or women married to unaffiliated men—report the highest levels of happiness. Their self-reports were based on two markers: “love and affection you get from your spouse” and “understanding you receive from your spouse.” This same demographic of women also report the highest levels of quality couple time.

My newer book Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, co-written with sociologist Nicholas Wolfinger, reveals similar findings. Men and women who attend church together are almost 10 percentage points more likely to report that they are “happy” or “very happy” in their relationships, compared to their peers who attend separately or simply don’t attend religious services at all. On average, then, evangelicals (as well other religious believers in the United States) who attend church regularly enjoy higher quality marriages compared to their less religious or secular peers.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(NR) David French–Can We Be Honest About Men?

Given the reality of male human nature, I can think of few cultural messages more destructive — more enabling for sexual predators — than the sexual-revolution ethics that urge indulgence, that often describe sexual relationships as the object of human interaction. It’s as if the sexual revolutionary looks at original sin and says, “Yes please.”

I know the sexual revolutionary objects to my critique. He rightly says that he doesn’t believe that “anything goes.” He erects moral walls against exploitation — the most prominent is consent. But if men fail (and they too often do) when the moral codes are more strict and the call to live a higher purpose is more pronounced, why do sexual revolutionaries believe men will fail less when the moral codes diminish and sexual freedom is considered part of their life’s purpose? Do they not see the linkage between handing out condoms by the armload — and celebrating “sex weeks” in college — and the number of women who feel used, abused, and exploited?

Much of the modern moral struggle is the war between entitlement and obligation. Raise a boy to live for himself, with a sense of entitlement, and he will often unleash that enormous inborn energy in the most destructive of ways. Raise a boy to live for others, with a sense of obligation, and that same energy can build a nation and sustain a culture. We can’t make a perfect world, but we do have a choice. Better or worse? It’s time to recognize and respond to human nature, or — despite the best of intentions — we will continue to choose to be worse.

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

(Sunday [London] Times) New Bill could allow unmarried men and women to enter civil partnerships

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Women

(Christian Today) St Helen’s Bishopgate in split with local Anglican churches over sexuality

One of the largest evangelical churches in the country is withdrawing itself from relations with neighbouring Anglican churches over irreconcilable differences on their teaching on sexuality.

St Helen’s Bishopgate, which attracts nearly 2,000 worshippers across its four services each week, declared it was in ‘impaired relationship’ with fellow Church of England parishes in its deanery in central London.

William Taylor, rector of St Helen’s, cited ‘the widely publicised views held by certain members of the deanery chapter’ as reasons for the split.

‘We (the clergy, wardens and PCC of St Helen’s) no longer consider these church leaders who have ceased to ‘believe and uphold the Christian faith Church of England has received it’ to be ‘walking together’ with us in any meaningful partnership’, he told the area dean Rev Oliver Ross.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(ABC) In Australia Same-sex marriage signed into law by Governor-General, first weddings to happen from January 9

Same-sex couples who have already married overseas will have their relationships recognised in Australia from midnight tonight.

After the drama and excitement of the same-sex marriage bill passing the House of Representatives chamber yesterday, the Governor-General signed off on it this morning.

Attorney-General George Brandis said couples had to give a month’s notice of their intention to marry, so the first same-sex weddings will be able to happen from January 9.

Senator Brandis said he became quite emotional when the bill passed and the public galleries erupted with cheers and singing.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Newcastle Anglican Diocese had ‘do-nothing’ approach to child sex abuse claims, royal commission finds

The royal commission into child sexual abuse has found powerful paedophiles in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle were operating under weak church leadership.

Thursday’s report follows another into the national Anglican Church which found that every church diocese in the country, bar one, had received complaints of child sexual abuse in the past 35 years.

The commission looked at alleged child abuse, bullying and cover-ups within the Newcastle diocese, producing a report of more than 400 pages just on the Newcastle Anglicans.

It has found former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft’s response to abuse was “weak, ineffectual and noted a failure of leadership”.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

Time Person of the Year–The Silence Breakers

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Psychology, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(CC) Ruth Everhart-18 ways churches can fight sexual assault in 2018

11. Invite a victims’ advocate to lead an adult education class or series…

14. Preach a sermon or series on biblical texts of terror, such as Tamar’s story…

16. Speak about sex from the pulpit in a frank and forthright manner without using code words or making inappropriate jokes.

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Posted in Men, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(WSJ) Luke Goodrich on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case–Religious freedom is for Christians, too

Most strikingly, a disproportionate share of religious freedom cases are brought by non-Christian minorities. The proportion of religious-freedom cases brought by Hindus was five times their share of the population in the six states under 10th Circuit jurisdiction. The factor was 10 for Native Americans and 17 for Muslims. The most underrepresented group? Christians, who were involved in only one-fourth as many cases as their share of the population.

That means that religious freedom protections remain especially important for non-Christian minorities. But it also raises a question: Why is there so much hand-wringing about a handful of religious-liberty cases brought by Christians?

This is because the political left applies a double standard. If religious liberty is invoked by a favored minority, it is legitimate. But if it is invoked by a Christian with traditional moral views, it is seen as an excuse for hate. Progressives engage in culture-war bullying when religious liberty would stand in the way of their social views. One of the Colorado state commissioners in Masterpiece Cakeshop called the Christian baker’s religious-freedom claim “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use—to use their religion to hurt others.”

But if religious liberty means anything, it means the right to live according to your beliefs when most people think you are wrong.

So when Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, stands before the Supreme Court Tuesday, he may have some unlikely allies rooting for him: non-Christian religious minorities.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(NYT Op-ed) Robert George+Sherif Girgis: A Baker’s First Amendment Rights

You need the First Amendment precisely when your ideas offend others or flout the majority’s orthodoxies. And then it protects more than your freedom to speak your mind; it guards your freedom not to speak the mind of another.

Thus, in classic “compelled speech” rulings, the Supreme Court has protected the right not to be forced to say, do or create anything expressing a message one rejects. Most famously, in West Virginia v. Barnette (1943), it barred a state from denying Jehovah’s Witnesses the right to attend public schools if they refused to salute the flag. In Wooley v. Maynard (1977), the court prevented New Hampshire from denying people the right to drive if they refused to display on license plates the state’s libertarian-flavored motto “live free or die.”

On Tuesday, the court will consider whether Colorado may deny Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the right to sell custom wedding cakes because he cannot in conscience create them for same-sex weddings. Mr. Phillips, who has run his bakery since 1993, sells off-the-shelf items to anyone, no questions asked. But he cannot deploy his artistic skills to create cakes celebrating themes that violate his religious and moral convictions. Thus he does not design cakes for divorce parties, lewd bachelor parties, Halloween parties or same-sex weddings.

Colorado’s order that he create same-sex wedding cakes (or quit making any cakes at all) would force him to create expressive products carrying a message he rejects. That’s unconstitutional.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology