on Saturday, 12 September 2020 at 11.00 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
Giles Goddard ViaMedia.News Sexuality & Christianity – Does One Size Fit All?
Church Times A case of reverse contagion?
Sheila Bridge reflects on the unexpected power of one of the lesser sacraments
I think the McGill philosopher Charles Taylor is easier to understand in what he opposes and diagnoses, than in what he proposes — especially vis-a-vis Gay marriage as civilly enforced. See https://catholicmoraltheology.com/gay-marriage-whats-the-real-issue/
I’ve seen the piece in Commonweal. I believe it is a direct excerpt of one section of his book (not a precis). I do not believe the idea of the state legislating in favour of gay marriage is an idea congenial with his larger conception, and his own Roman Catholic convictions. The relationship between state and church in his thinking goes a different route. (That is why I included the link I did above).I am happy to be corrected.
I would doubt you’d be a fan.
“Instance your man David Cloutier.” I have no idea who he is. I cited him for perspective on what seemed to be an enthusiastic commendation.
“…yes it is always a good idea to do a little research before commending someone for a third party intervention.”
It is so odd to have a comment like this thrown at one. You called him ‘my man.’
I simply intended that apparent fans of CT be aware of the risks/context.
Be well Mr Gillis.
I think Goddard is trying to let organised Christianity off the hook by portraying sexual liberation as a rebellion against Christian mores. I don’t think it was at all. What I think happened was that the Church of England had got sucked into some pretty lazy (and wrong) theology: sex is procreative so any sexual act which doesn’t have a procreative purpose is wrong. Once sex ceased to be procreative for heterosexual couples that argument was dead in the water. It should have been transformative, replacing procreation with love as the compass. Instead, the Church doubled down on tradition (actually… Read more »
Tom Holland in his recent book Dominion, touches on this issue: what people are doing when they (as they see it) reject the church and Christianity, in this case during the “sexual revolution of the 1960s”. He argues that those who reject the church’s traditional teaching on sex are using arguements that are demonstrabley Christian to do so. His broader point is that the Western mind is so totally shaped by Christianity that most Western people cannot really think outside a framework that is demonstrably Christian (as compared to the ancient Romans, for example, the starting point of his thesis).… Read more »
“His broader point is that the Western mind is so totally shaped by Christianity that most Western people cannot really think outside a framework that is demonstrably Christian (as compared to the ancient Romans, for example, the starting point of his thesis).”
That’s a much more interesting point than those Goddard picked.
I have just been re-reading Philip Sheldrake’s “History and Spirituality” which I think is a very perceptive book. One of his main arguments is that much Christian doctrine was developed by early bishops who had originally been monks, so we should not be surprised if the primacy of an ascetic, celibate spirituality is baked deeply into Christian tradition, with an accompanying suspicion of women and sexual activity. But it is now time for other, traditionally repressed and forgotten, groups to tell their stories, and to be included in the development of Christian teaching. So I think Goddard is right, sexual… Read more »
Goddard convinced me not to read Taylor but Sheldrake seems much more interesting.
But I still don’t think that sexual liberation was a “rebellion against much church teaching”. I don’t think the motives of most people had anything to do with religion.
I continue to believe that if the church had moved with people, that people would have stayed with the church.
Kate, you seem to suggest that Church should move with the people. Surely, it is the job of the Church—and of individual Christians—to try to understand the will of God, and to listen to what the Holy Spirit teaches. It may well be that this moves the Church with the people, because the people often have a level of collective wisdom, but that should not be the motivation. Remember Jesus’s warning to Peter about ‘setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ And do you really think that the Church not having responded positively to sexual liberation… Read more »
I absolutely agree that the church and individual Christians should follow the Spirit:
But the word hanging in the air during the 60s wasn’t sex: it was love. So many prophets were shouting it, but the church didn’t hear because it doubled down on sex for procreation.
I think Matthew 23:37-40 (and analogues) says everything which needs to be said. Is one doing something for oneself or BECAUSE of love for God or another person?
… Incidentally, may I also commend Larry Siedentop’s book ‘Inventingt the Individual’, which covers some of the same ground as Tom Holland’s book.
Isn’t that the nature of reviews, excerpts, trailers and précis?
Rod Gillis comment is spot on. I know that we suffer from information overload with too much to read but on the other hand too many people are forming views about the ideas of key thinkers based on partial and partisan reviews and summaries. One of the strengths of Kelvin Holdsworth’s post on the Eucharist to which we were linked was his long quotation from Gregory Dix. We are after all ‘thinking’ Anglicans.
Thanks Rod, You are right. In the tension between lay and monastic Christian lifestyles the church has always overvalued the monastic and ignored the lay. There is a need to restore the balance. My own thinking on this has been influenced by a study of Hindu teachings, obtained from the Hindu tradition itself, but also from Greek writers describing the experiences of Greek travellers into India reasonably close to the time of Christ. In these traditions there are four vocations; scholar, householder, hermit and mendicant holy man. I am interested here in the balance between the householder and mendicant. Strabo… Read more »
Continued from previous post It seems to me that the Christian tradition over-emphasises teaching appropriate to the mendicant vocation and somehow teaching appropriate to the householder has got lost. It is argued that the early Christian Egyptian monastics learned much of their asceticism from Hindu holy men attracted to Egypt by the Alexandrian library. And I often wonder if this is why Christianity is the way it is. The church fathers learnt, and then taught, spirituality appropriate to a celibate ascetic, and knowledge of a spiritual path appropriate for a married householder got left behind in India. Whatever the actual… Read more »
Simon, thank you so much for the time and effort you put into those two interesting and well-written comments. I very much appreciate the time some commentators invest.
Dear Rod and Kate, Many thanks for your kind comments. Rod, you mentioned “the contribution of feminist scholars in making women and their contexts in the ancient world more visible to a contemporary church”. My own context is that of gay Christian Lay Minister seeking to do the same sort of scholarship to rehabilitate homosexuality within the church. But as somebody who is self-taught, and working outside any academic institution, I don’t often get the chance to air my views in public. So it is gratifying to receive affirming comments, and doubly gratifying to be offered interesting feedback and links… Read more »
Thank you Sheila for your contribution on such a meaningful Sacrament, so glad it was in the Church Times also.. A staple of my ministry, and it is sad that so many churches and priest ignore this sacrament. Having said that, I know that very many priests, like myself, a staple of our ministry.
Fr John Emlyn
It is one of the finer pieces I have read at TA. Thanks for it.