Saturday, 25 June 2011
opinion at the end of June
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that To be alive is to be more than physical.
Mark Vernon writes for Cif belief that If you want big society, you need big religion.
Faith communities may encourage their members to contribute to society – but can politicians harness their benefits?
Also for Cif belief Nick Spencer writes for that Trevor Phillips is muddled on faith and equality.
The EHRC cannot have it both ways – faith communities are either right or wrong to adhere to their beliefs.
Greg Carey writes for The Huffington Post about What The Bible Really Says About Slavery.
In his Sacred mysteries column in the Telegraph Christopher Howse discovers how Westminster Abbey had a narrow escape: When they put a shell on the Abbey.
Posted by Peter Owen on
Saturday, 25 June 2011 at 11:00am BST
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Giles Fraser disputes the view that human beings are merely "medium-sized portions of animated meat." But it's Genesis that presents mankind as statues animated by divine breath. Science describes us as organisms, and consciousness as an effect of brain activity. Fraser protests that "Human beings are so much more than their physicality." Yes, they know themselves through language and the stories that language lets them tell: Flying carpets, ghosts that walk, historical sagas -- anything imaginable can happen in a story. Stories give us a sense of wonder perhaps denied to bears, but they all seem to issue from chemical-electric activity in our organisms. Fraser is right about love, however -- we are not all alike, some are solitary, but for many of us, finding someone to share love, life, and touch with gives a sense of purpose making it all worthwhile.
Good article by Greg Carey, on the issue of slavery in the bible. From among the genuine or non-disputed letters of St. Paul, Philemon gets a special mention, and rightly so. Philemon is a case study in how we might move away from disputes about what the bible does or does not "command" and toward an ethic based on transcendent values. Although its is perhaps more intuitive glean than proof text, I think the letter to Philemon assumes the institution of slavery as a given but heralds the value of compassion. The former,an economic and social assumption of the ancient world, must be censured. The latter,an important contribution to a constellation of shared values,endures.
For all Giles Fraser's protestations to the contrary, God declares and life itself shows that we are also very much physical beings, divinely ordered dust. However 'fearfully and wonderfully made' we are, the Genesis account states: 'By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.'
I agree, in part, that the separation of orientation from practice is a false dichotomy. If you accept orientation as valid and God-given, you must accept practice. Yet is the statement 'affirm that homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life or to full participation in lay and ordained ministry in the Church and acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church.' the same as affirming the moral equivalence of homosexual and heterosexual conduct?
If everyone has a sexual orientation, each of us still needs to discover how divine insight (as revealed through scripture) challenges our expression of that orientation in conduct and personal relationships.
Giles Fraser use phrases like 'loving relationship' which cannot be viewed through the lense of earthly human interactions alone. The prodigal son admitted that, beyond the impact of his self-determined choices on his father's life, he had also sinned against heaven.
Church discipline cannot regulate our personal thought processes, and so it has to address expectations of conduct. If anything, this is the major flaw in the recent documents, their prescriptions are far too detailed and legalistic.
Of course, if the canon lawyers followed St.Paul in simply, yet repeatedly insisting that elders be 'husband of one wife' (1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Tim. 3:12; Titus 1:6), and also 'examples to the flock' (1 Peter 5:3) as Peter did, they would expose church policy to a range of self-serving interpretations from all quarters.
The unsatisfactory policy statements may mean we end up as Israel did in the time of Judges, where 'all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes' (Judges 21:25)
David Shepherd asks: "Yet is the statement 'affirm that homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life or to full participation in lay and ordained ministry in the Church and acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church.' the same as affirming the moral equivalence of homosexual and heterosexual conduct?"
"If everyone has a sexual orientation, each of us still needs to discover how divine insight (as revealed through scripture) challenges our expression of that orientation in conduct and personal relationships." - David Shepherd -
This statement sounds prety-well right to me. However; it would be very difficult to maintain the false dichotomy that orientation does not necessarily entail activity in connection with that orientation. To say that one's sexual orientation should not - in certain circumstances (such as the LGBT variation) - allow of the allied benefit of physical expression; would be to suggest that the innate sexuality of an L.G.B. or T. person is 'invalid': i.e. blasphemous!
There are 'eunuchs' who choose to be so (sexually inactive) 'for the sake of the Kingdom of God; but there are also 'eunuchs' (intrinsically gay, and not naturally disposed towards procreation); who are 'this way from their mother's womb'. In saying this in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus did not judge one eunuch to be preferable to another. Nor did he put a judgement value on their disposition to engage (or not) in sexual activity.
@ A J Barford:
Apparently, those who issued the statement that I quoted think differently. Otherwise, there would be no need for the House of Bishops to announce the review last week.
@Father Ron Smith:
The choice between gay or straight orientation is also a false dichotomy.
In the scripture, there is no assumption of sexual orientation towards either gender on the part of those described as eunuchs. It would be presumptious to press these verses into the service of any orientation.
There was no need for Christ to address the disposition of eunuchs to engage in sexual activity. The word 'eunuch' does not connote intrinsic homosexuality.