Thinking Anglicans

The Meanings of Communion: Anglican Identities, the Sexuality Debates, and Christian Relationality

My attention has been drawn to this recently published article at Sociological Research Online. [hat-tip to Roland Orr]

The Meanings of Communion: Anglican Identities, the Sexuality Debates, and Christian Relationality by Robert M. Vanderbeck, Gill Valentine, Kevin Ward, Joanna Sadgrove and Johan Andersson, University of Leeds.

Here is the abstract.

Recent discussions of the international Anglican Communion have been dominated by notions of a ‘crisis’ and ‘schism’ resulting from conflicts over issues of homosexuality. Existing accounts of the Communion have often tended to emphasise the perspectives of those most vocal in the debates (particularly bishops, senior clergy, and pressure groups) or to engage in primarily theological analysis. This article examines the nature of the purported ‘crisis’ from the perspectives of Anglicans in local parishes in three different national contexts: England, South Africa, and the United States. Unusually for writing on the Communion, attention is simultaneously given to parishes that have clear pro-gay stances, those that largely oppose the acceptance of homosexual practice, and those with more ambivalent positions. In doing so, the article offers new insights for the growing body of literature on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians, as well as wider discussions about the contested nature of contemporary Anglican and other Christian identities. Key themes include the divergent ways in which respondents felt (and did not feel) connections to the spatially distant ‘others’ with whom they are in Communion; the complex relationships and discordances between parish, denominational, and Communion-level identities; and competing visions of the role of the Communion in producing unity or preserving diversity amongst Anglicans.

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Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

The first sentence of the ‘abstract’ emphasises the part that homosexuality plays in threats of schism in the world-wide Anglican Communion. This indicates the fact that the gender issue – of women bishops – is not the major ‘problem’, despite the current F.i.F. threat to split the Communion on that issue. Many of us on this site might think differently. However, there is no doubt that the issue of same-sex relationships is a major point of departure for more conservative Provinces of the Communion – reflecting the fact of their fear of modern change in understanding of the basic human… Read more »

C jenkins
C jenkins
10 years ago

In doing so, the article offers new insights for the growing body of literature on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians, as well as wider discussions about the contested nature of contemporary Anglican and other Christian identities.

I an a transsexual academic and practicing Anglican. I find it totally disrespectful and damaging to say that research concerns transgender Christians when It clearly does not sexuality and gender identity are different and separate issues.

chenier1
chenier1
10 years ago

C Jenkins

I perceive that you are upset, but it would help the rest of us if you could flesh out the bones somwhat…

Terence Dear
Terence Dear
10 years ago

I sympathise with C Jenkins. Lumping transsexuals together with lesbians, gays and bisexuals (as in ‘lgbt’) is crass and ignorant. Gender Incongruence has nothing to do with homosexuality.

Oriscus
Oriscus
10 years ago

If I may help Ms/Mr Jenkins, in their post:

place the first sentence in inverted commas, or make block quote

In the second paragraph, place a period or semicolon after “it clearly does not”. It may not be more fleshed-out, but it should be clearer now.

pete
pete
10 years ago

This entire “crisis” in parts of the Anglican Communion is being driven by fear, plain and simple. Those who are screaming “orthodoxy” and “the faith once delivered” (whatever the hell that means) are desperately trying to turn the clock back to the 1950s church, because change scares them and they want to hold on–somewhere–to something that won’t change. Those who are screaming “justice” and “prophetic voice” are trying to make change as fast as possible, because they are afraid of being “boxed out” or treated as second class citizens. Neither side cares for the other; indeed, both would gladly see… Read more »

Maida
Maida
10 years ago

C jenkins makes a very valid point: the LGBT shorthand has become so common that we often claim to be considering the issues which affect LGBT people when in fact we are only discussing issues which affect LG and some B people. To pretend that we are considering and including transgendered people when we aren’t is naïve at best and disrespectful, silencing, and marginalizing at worst.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
10 years ago

I agree with a couple of the points that Pete made in his post. (1) Fear is a big driver and (2) clergy are in leadership roles in driving the conversation in both camps by and large. However, I also think the situation is further complicated by the fact that Gay and Lesbian people are more expendable than staunchly conservative voices– certainly that is the case in Canada as a whole. Gay and Lesbian people are expected to wait because they are small urban based communities while whole swaths of Canadian Anglicanism, Atlanic Canada, the North, The West (minus urban… Read more »

Savi H
Savi H
10 years ago

Does not the powerful hostility in some sections of the Anglican Communion to so much as considering the possibility that same-sex relationships might be acceptable often stem from very rigid and simplistic notions of gender and sexuality, as in the quote ‘God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’? If so, does this not affect trans as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual people? Take for example Peter Akinola’s statement (not quoted in the piece) that ‘God created two persons — male and female. Now the world of homosexuals has created a third — a homosexual, neither male nor… Read more »

Maida
Maida
10 years ago

Savi, I agree with you completely: homophobia and transphobia are from the same root, one which also leads to the marginalization of women more generally.

But a community which accepts same-sex couples may not accept people who are transgender; same-sex couples in many ways fit into our existing categories so much more easily. To gloss over the difference, to pretend to accept all LGBT folk when we’re only really starting to consider LG couples, is to do ourselves and those we hope to welcome a huge disservice.

Nom de Plume
Nom de Plume
10 years ago

@Savi and Maida: OTOH, it may be easier for homophobes to accept transgendered people who then form “normal” heterosexual relationships than to accept same-sex couples. I have certainly come across homophobes who have superficially related to transgendered people without any apparent difficulty.

Mario Ribas
Mario Ribas
10 years ago

this is ridiculous, how can you compare South Africa with England and USA? I wonder what methodology was used for this research because it doesn’t make sense at all. The Province of South Africa is the most liberal in the entire African Continent, TEC is the most liberal in all American Continent (even more than the province of Brazil), and England is eternally an enigma (but apart from all its bureaucracy it is liberal is most sense). So, if the research is meant to mean something… Go and include other countries rather than the liberal ones

FoxT
FoxT
10 years ago

Cross dressing and other such activities are frequently a sign of far deeper issues.

It is not always the case however.

MarkBrunson
10 years ago

“this is ridiculous, how can you compare South Africa with England and USA?”

Could have something to do with them all being . . . humans, perhaps?

It’s always amazing that decency, human rights, dignity of the individual, simple basic intelligence seem to be “tangential” or “purely liberal” issues to conservatives (who *conserve* nothing, strangely).

A better question would be, how can you compare “conservative” allegedly-christians throughout the AC with humanity? Contrast, yeah, but compare?

Terence Dear
Terence Dear
10 years ago

Homophobia and transphobia have been linked above to the marginalization of women. It is true that sexuality-based discrimination arises generally from a patriarchal mind-set reinforced by the Adam and Eve creation myth. However, nobody has suggested adding ‘w’ to the lgbt acronym. Cross dressing has also been brought into the debate although, again, transvestism has nothing to do with homosexuality or transgenderism. We should not lose sight of the fact that some transvestites, transgenderists and women will be just as homophobic as your average red-blooded heterosexual male. Nor that the issues faced by transgenderists, especially while transitioning, will be very… Read more »

JCF
JCF
10 years ago

I don’t know where you’re from, Terence D, but here in the USA, “transgenderist” would not be seen as respectful, by transgender people (I speak as one. The “-ist” ending gives it a “trendy fad” connotation—much like, similarly, “homosexual lifestyle” does.)

***

“Cross dressing and other such activities are frequently a sign of far deeper issues. It is not always the case however.”

I have no idea what you’re trying to say, FoxT. FWIW.

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