Friday, 14 November 2003

Some Issues in Human Sexuality

This is the title of the new book published last week by Church House Publishing. The book, prepared by a committee of four bishops, is commended to the Church for study by the House of Bishops of the Church of England. I commented briefly about it when it was published.

The key thing to understand about this book is that it is a study guide, it does not set out to be an expression of any new opinions, by bishops or by anybody else. Rather, it aims to state a full range of existing opinions on the subject, so that they can all be studied.

Here is the official publishers blurb for the book.
Here is the Church Times digest of the book.
You can download the front matter and Chapter 1 of the book from the CHP website as a pdf file. You can also download the first two chapters of the short accompanying booklet, A Companion to Some Issues in Human Sexuality, with study material for individuals and groups.

Today the Church Times carried this comment on the book by Giles Fraser, Let’s be realistic about sex.
Thinking Anglicans hopes to publish other comments and reflections on the book when people have had time to read it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 14 November 2003 at 9:00pm GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Book review

From Fraser's piece:
"I am disinclined to take moral lessons about sex from anyone who does not seem to appreciate that sex is sexy."
AMEN! At the same time, I am disinclined to accept moral _or_ political arguments---from putative Christians---who do not bother to _deconstruct_ "sex" : that it begins, in committed relationships, as acts of LOVE, and not just an itch-scratching. I think that the fracas over gays comes from objectifying gay sex, but I think that that in turn results from a bass-ackwards objectifying of _all_ sex.
Why can't people get it through their heads, that _when you love someone, you want to please them_, and that often (though by no means invariably) _pleasing them takes the form of touching them_ ---in ways that prompt physical pleasure and release? And also sharing in that pleasure together? Bringing joy to the beloved is a highpoint of being human, but is easily missed in the grunts, giggles and guffaws (and much grouchiness of late) that we bring to the word "sex". Something far more profound than is expressed by words like "homosexual" or "heterosexual". Yes, sex has its coarser, or strictly physiological side (e.g. the Cycle of Arousal), where it may be little more than itch-scratching. Yes, it can be lots of "fun". But if Christians are not going to hold up to the world what relationships can be, and how physical pleasure is a rich and meaningful part of them, who will?
This isn't "Sex 101". It's "Love 101". And for a religion where love is what we're supposed to be known by (ala the 1960s hymn), Christians have shown precious little understanding of it (and even less practice).

Posted by: J. Collins Fisher on Saturday, 15 November 2003 at 8:31am GMT

Sexuality is a bigger concept than 'sex', And it represents a deep and basic expression of what and who we are. Our sexuality is expressed in how we dress and talk and think of ourselves. But human sexuality is also a kind of power and that brings it into the realm of politics. That individuals should express themselves sexually in any sort of consumer fashion which appeals to them is not a new idea but it is now being put forward as a basic right. Somehow Christian tolerance is supposed to write a blank check for this sort of consumerism ? Sexuality being human is liable to all sorts of pathologies, evidenced in behaviour which ranges from bullying to manipulating, controlling, seducing, betraying etc. But the sheer fashion and sentiment of our time seems to cloak the pathology of sexual consumerism in an aura of romantic freedom. I marvel at this myopia.

Posted by: Jay Wilson on Wednesday, 24 December 2003 at 5:19am GMT

Having just ploughed through the whole of 'Some Issues in Human Sexuality', I am a little dismayed that 'the whole sweep of Scripture' much vaunted by those who wish to dissociate themselves from 'proof texts' (as I would too) amounts to no more than this - God's will for humanity is revealed in the 'marriage' of Adam and Eve. All other kinds and varieties of relationship, all revelations from experience or possible inspirations of the Spirit are weighed in the balance of Adam and Eve's 'permanent' (not a lot of choice), 'exclusive' (ditto), man-and-woman (ditto) relationship. That the modern Anglican church should put so much literalist faith in a story which is meant to be a metaphor is, frankly, disappointing and a bit shocking. I had honestly thought better of my church. Is anybody else who has read SIIHS similarly struck, or have I, perhaps, read the text wrongly?
I'd be interested to hear from others.

Posted by: Alis Hawkins on Monday, 26 January 2004 at 9:23pm GMT