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The Roman Catholic Church, and Single-Sex Marriage

In a rectent news article in the Independent, the Catholic Synod moderated it’s language towards single-sex couples.

While the Synod continues to uphold the current line of the Catholic Church, and does not seek to change that, it does offer a way forward. It comes on the back of Pope Francis’ statement last year to the LGBTQ community “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”.

The full document itself is lengthy, and does attempt to explore what the Catholic Church means by family. It explores in depth the problems faced by families in the social context, raising the problems of isolation and children born outside of marriage seen in the west, and the practice of polygamy still seen in many places in Africa.

It is as the discussion on what it means to be family develops does the Church find that it needs to say something on the nature of same-sex relationships

In the section entitled Truth and beauty of the family and mercy the document has this to say:

21. The Gospel of the family, while it shines in the witness of many families who live coherently their fidelity to the sacrament, with their mature fruits of authentic daily sanctity must also nurture those seeds that are yet to mature, and must care for those trees that have dried up and wish not to be neglected.

22. In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

23. Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.

Here the church begins to wrestle with the reality of life that is experienced by most people. It affirms, of course, the stance on marriage, but also makes the point that there are those who have formed non-traditional unions that show the hallmarks of what would be held up as the hallmarks of marriage.

It is good that the Roman Catholic Church has faced this issue head-on. Jesus himself had a non-traditional family, and it is about time that the Churches that attempt to live by his teaching try to minister to all of God’s Children, just like he would have.

~BX

Why is the Church Obsessd with Sex?

Recently, I’ve been debating with a few people I know, the issues of Sex and the Church. It appears that the Church seems to mask “sex” in the lofty idea of “morality”. It appears, at least on a cursory glance at relevant press releases. It all seems to revolve around precisely what the point of having “sex” is. Based on the Bible, they read it and see that the point of “sex” is for procreation, and so any form of “sex” that isn’t intended, or has the possibility of, producing offspring the Church can point too and say that that is imorral.

Speaking as an Anglican, when the Synod voted in the early 1900’s to allow men to ware Condoms, the basic argument was essentially torpedod. This move allows men and women to have sex for pleasure. The line that it should still happen inside Marriage is at least still strong, but the argument that morality should, as it is today, be linked to strongly to “sex” is patantly absured.

So, fast forward to 2010. The second biggest debate being held in Churches all over the world is about Homosexuality. Interestingly, by and large, lesbianism is forgotten about, but is generally linked together under the same barrier. The argument that if one passes they both will be accepted.

The debate often revolves around 3 issues. The first is that Homsexuality is “unnatural”, because the “sex” doesn’t produce children. This, I guess, it a logical line of thought, however, it only remains so if the Church is ALSO condemning every couple that doesn’t marry and start breeding straight away, or, for a more sane argument, any couple that cannot have children, or choose not to. The reason for the inclusion for couples that “cannot” have children, is that is precisely the arguement that is levelled at Homosexuality. That they cannot have children.

The next argument that it is unnatural is one that is difficult for both sides. One side holds up that homosexuality can be seen in nature, and the other counters with the fact that, from a certain point of view, Pedophilia is natural*. However, we should be talking about “consentual adults”, and not get ourselfs side-tracked with an argument over Pedophilia. Some would put forward a notion that God’s Design is that Man and Woman is the only way, however, we have no proof that this is so. All the examples that are given are given by fallen people, and the one perfect example is given by a celibate Christ, which is no help at all.

The argument that it “says in the Bible” has been answered before on this blog:http://blog.valhalla.jara23.co.uk/?p=285. This has been debated for many years, and is probably the only really sensible argument left. This at least turns the attention away from Sex, and more into a Didactic Reading of the Bible.

However, this issue is more insiduous than it may first appear. Homosexuality has caused the ArchBishop of Niger, Peter Akinola to say that Homosexuals are ‘deviants’, ‘perverted’ and ‘in rebellion against God’. He’s not alone in his comments. The entire idea that Christians could unilateraly hate a group of people because of what they do behind closed doors just seems bonkers.

Of course, I’m a liberal, who would rather spraed the love of God, than denounce people for a few badly-used lines in the Bible, so this post may be a little biased.

Christianity does not stop at Homosexuality, of course. All kinds of ‘deviant’ behaviour is ‘against’ God. BDSM, Furries, and all other kinds of sexual pleasures are considered ‘deviant’ also, but where, in this, is God’s Love?

We are called to be Excellent To Each Other. To just be nice to one another. Why is what people do in a loving relationship a problem?

Fundamentalists are all about a transoformational God, just so long as it’s not them that’s being Transformed.

BX

*This is part of the “slipery slope” arguement. It is generally used to evoke emotional responses, rather than considered thought.

West Bro Baptists get a taste of their own

I found an article where a community in Seattle faces down the mad, biggoted West Bro Baptists, run by the Phelps’. This family believes that God is punishing the world for it’s acceptance of Homosexuals, they even decided to write an open letter to the family of Heath Ledger asking them where the funeral was going to be so they could picket it, because after the lie that was Brokeback Mountain, the world needs to be told the truth. Especially, so the letter goes, as Heath is now burning in hell.

It’s about time this bunch of crazies were shown that their approach to Christianity will not be tolerated, nor will it be accepted by the rest of us. Handily, here in the UK, one of the most useful thing our mad government has done was to ban the leaders from our country.

Not having that luxury, residents in Seattle set about producing protests against the protesters. Each protest that was planned was met by members of the community, religious leaders, and members of the institution that was being picketed. The anti-protesters were seen to hold hands and sing songs, drowning out the hateful remarks of the Phelps’. I think it would have been a sight to see. Nice to see people finally standing up to these biggots.

Edit:

Some Loyal Readers found some photos

Gay And Lesbian Christians, You are Not Alone

I’ve often pidgeon-holed Evancelicals along with the term “Fundamentalist”. This implies a strict adherence to the Bible, and a hatred for all those “pro-choice” ideas. That is, anything where it is perceived you have a “choice”. From this point of view, they believe you have a “choice” to be Gay/Lesbian, and as such can change. It’s not something you should choose. In the same way that you shouldn’t choose an Abortion, whatever the circumstances.

Regular readers of this blog will know that that’s not in anyway my stance, and will have read the numerous pro-choice stuff that’s on here. It hadn’t occurred to me that there would be a Christian Organisation that identified with the moniker “evangelical”, and be positively pro-Gay or Lesbian. The very fact of it’s existence surprised me.

It’s called Evangelicals Concerned, and was started by Dr. Ralph Blair in 1975 after the president of an evangelical college came out to him over dinner, saying that he was a tortured man. The orginisation is small, with only a few thousand members, but seems to be a growing organisation.

Their website has much that you’d expect to find on a Christian pro-Gay/Lesbian website. The interesting take, however, is that they see the Bible as an empty closet. That is, there are no mention of what we would identify today as “Homosexuality” in the Bible.

In studies of sex in history, Stanford classics professor John J. Winkler warns against “reading contemporary concerns and politics into texts and artefacts removed from their social context.” This, of course, is a basic principle of biblical hermeneutics.

(Taken from Evangelicals Concerned)

There are many answers to the “Clobber” passages (passages that are used as anti-homosexual), like Genesis 1:27, Leviticus 18:22, and of course, 1 Corinthians 6:9.

The interesting point they make, unlike the usual liberal view of disregarding, or down-playing the writings of St. Paul, they take his writings on head-on. They point to Galations 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

(source: BibleGateway)

Thus, there can’t be a way of a man joining to a woman, because we are already one in the salvations of Christ. As such, where our hearts lead us, male or female, is where our hearts lead us, and that is fine with God, because the old distinctions have been taken down. It is fine for a Jew to love a Gentile in Christ, (something not previously allowed), as well as it being okay for a Man to love a Man.

Galations 1:25 reads:

Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

(Source (in context) BibleGateway).

If this is the case, then the law of Leviticus no-longer applies. Thus, the passages that are against Homosexuality in the writings of St. Paul must be read in the light of this revelation. The site argues that the Homosexuality that is mentioned in the Bible, is sex with young male “sex-pets” who were kept around for sex purely for pleasure. Not a definition most people would see as a definition of modern Homosexuality, which is (mostly) a loving relationship between two men.

There is much more on the site, and it’s all fascinating. I’m guessing that bits of the teaching I pick up there will filter into future posts. I just hope I remember where I read it so I can give credit where it’s due. If I don’t, let’s hope this posts stands and an acknowledgement of the arguments that I’m learning.

~BX

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