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snfu73

disturber of the peace
A more positive approach to sexuality

MICHAEL INGHAM
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Christianity as a religion stands in need of a better theology of sexuality. The church must find a way to discover that human beings are sexual beings and, in the words of the creation stories in the Book of Genesis, that “this is very good.”
But this task of finding a new and positive theology of sexuality is very challenging for the church. It involves of necessity an entire reappraisal of Christian tradition, going back to the Bible itself.
For example, St. Paul understood same-sex relationships only in terms of the older-man, younger-boy relationship of the Greeks, which we call pederasty, or in other words, child abuse. It was and still is an intolerable practice, and Christians have condemned it from the very beginning.
But no difference was perceived between child abuse and adult same-sex love. Against this background, the teaching against erotic and sexual passion found its way into the foundational documents of the Christian tradition.
Today, we have a better understanding of homosexuality as a basic and natural orientation experienced by some members of the human community, just as we find the same thing among some animal species, and in Christian terms we must come to think of this as not only natural, but also God-given and good.
But these developments in the social sciences and therefore in popular understanding are still relatively new – since about the 19th century. They have not yet penetrated the church's thinking, except at the edges of its consciousness and greatly against its will. If we believe, as Christians do, that we are created in the image of God, that we carry in our very selves the icon of God's own self in our earthly existence, then we must be able to say that our sexuality is not an accident or a simple tool for making babies.
If sex is not just for having children, then we must challenge the church's condemnations throughout the centuries of such things as masturbation, birth control, abortion, and homosexuality, because it is on the basis of the doctrine of procreation that these practices have been ruled out – they do not further the goal of pregnancy. The church has reasoned that they are against God's will, but if they aren't, then the church has no moral ground to insist on their prohibition.
We know that the dualism of flesh and spirit, which is a Greek intrusion into Hebrew thought, became the basis not only for the denigration of sexuality but also for the oppression of women. Women scholars have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the Bible itself, and all subsequent church history, has been developed and refracted through the lens of male experience.
It was women who were seen as symbols of the flesh, of the lower order, while men were held to belong to the higher order of intellect and reason, through which alone the true knowledge of God could come.
Women who espoused virginity, through ascetic or monastic disciplines, could achieve a life of purity. For the greater part of Christian history, childbearing remained for women the sole justification of their sexuality, which was regarded by the church as both morally and spiritually inferior to that of men.
This process of the subjugation of women's sexuality has had equally profound and disastrous consequences for men, particularly for male sexuality. Instead of developing along the lines of mutuality and equality, male and female sexuality have become inextricably linked to roles of dominance and submission.
For men, this means sexuality is most often expressed through power, and sometimes the use of force. A great deal of male sexual fantasy, especially male pornography (including gay pornography), features a disturbing obsession with violence and cruelty.
What then is a responsible sexuality? Here, as a Christian, I must turn to the New Testament – not to St. Paul, who for some reason has been regarded as the Bible's authority on sex, but to Jesus. I believe it is in Jesus that we see what God intends for humanity, for male and female alike, and in Jesus we see a glimpse of the “fullness of life” that God establishes through him as the new humanity.
What we see in Jesus is both an example of the single life that can be consecrated to God and lived fully and completely without genital activity, and also of a life that is lived always in relationship with others and with God, in full community with men and women and children.
We see in him an invitation to all people to live in these same loving and healthy relationships without fearfulness, without guilt, without the need to control or coerce others, and especially without the sin of rejecting our own God-given nature and sexual orientation.
Jesus does have a comment about marriage. He says “a man shall leave his father and mother and be made one with his wife.” He does not say every man shall become one with a wife, nor every woman with a husband. Indeed, Jesus himself never married, so he cannot be made into an icon of the modern family values movement trumpeted by the Christian far-right.
In Jesus's day, divorce was permitted for men only. A man could divorce his wife, but not vice versa. Divorce was much more devastating to a woman than a man in the ancient world, as it is in many countries today, because women were subject to a social stigma and ostracism after a marriage breakdown that men were not.
It is likely that Jesus's teaching about the strong bond of marriage and against divorce was out of a deep concern for the vulnerability of women, and a desire to protect the equality of relationships instead of upholding the patriarchal system of male heterosexual dominance.
What we do find in Jesus's teaching (and everywhere throughout the Bible) is an emphasis on commitment, faithfulness, and integrity in relationships. Jesus's teaching on divorce is deliberately set in the context of his rejection of infidelity. His whole life was an expression of his fidelity to God, and he spoke passionately about the promise of God's fidelity to us.
Over and over again, in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament, we learn of God's faithfulness and unconditional love, and it is frequently contrasted with the unfaithfulness of human beings, both in their relationships with each other and in their relationship to God. Integrity and commitment are what Jesus demonstrates in all his encounters with women and men in the Gospels and finally, of course, in his death on the Cross.
This suggests, then, that the primary criterion for a Christian sexual theology is not procreation but rather faithfulness and commitment. This is the supreme message of the life of Jesus and ought to be the principal standard for Christian sexual ethics – not sexual orientation, not propagation, nor even marriage.
Fidelity to one another, to one's partner, and to God, respect for the dignity of every human being and for the sacredness of the human body, a rejoicing in human sexuality as both gift and expression of divine creativity – these are the elements of a more positive approach to sexuality that the church needs to pursue.
And it must confront its own homophobia, which is a child of patriarchy and injustice. Fidelity, faithfulness and commitment are virtues of which homosexual and transgendered people are capable, just as much as heterosexuals. The church needs to open itself to new knowledge, and to the experience of all its people. Michael Ingham is bishop of the Greater Vancouver Diocese of New Westminster.
 

snfu73

disturber of the peace
Ah, frsh ground French roast. Marvelous stuff. Article, too.
I've never been a fan of coffee myself...but I am a fan of religious leaders who actually question interpretations of the bible...who are open to reexamining what they believe god and jesus are actually telling them. I think that is admirable. There is nothing admirable in being so staunch in your beliefs that you won't even think of reexamining them...no matter how harmful or ill conceived or frustrating or steeped in hypocrisy they may be.
 

sanctus

The Padre
Oct 27, 2006
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Yeah, I read that this morning with that first ambrosial cup of coffee (French dark roast... mmmmm). I thought it was brilliant.

Well many in the secular world applaud the comments of Mr. Ingham, I would like to note that his views are not favoured by the majority of his religious group(Anglican). In fact, the present Archbishop of Canterbury has labelled him bordering on heresy for his "advanced" viewpoints.

Mr. Ingham is also at odds with the Canadian Primate of his denomination.Rather odd really, for a denomination that, for the most part, has abandoned the faith since the 1970's.

Well I realize this will not matter a tiddley-wink to you or others what his denomination thinks of his views, I do think it is important not to get too excited into thinking Mr. Ingham represents a changed attitude in conservative "catholics" outside the Church.

And needless to say, his views hold no impact what-so-ever on the Church itself.
 

TenPenny

Hall of Fame Member
Jun 9, 2004
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Well I realize this will not matter a tiddley-wink to you or others what his denomination thinks of his views, I do think it is important not to get too excited into thinking Mr. Ingham represents a changed attitude in conservative "catholics" outside the Church.

And needless to say, his views hold no impact what-so-ever on the Church itself.

True. However, it is always interesting to read something where a leader has thought about an issue, instead of simply rehashing the standard line as laid down by some guy in Rome.
 

Curiosity

Senate Member
Jul 30, 2005
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Such a broad topic to narrow it down as this author did in his essay....

Perhaps it is good that sexuality as understood through the dictates of Christianity is one point of view - however sexuality does not necessarily belong to one faith, one doctrine, ie: Christianity (or any other major modern religion).

Sexuality has been with mankind since the beginning long before worship of any deity and the male-dominated religious beliefs were constructed.

While the author is no doubt well researched into his little corner of the world and has kept to his topic "religiously".... please keep in mind.... sexuality is not necessarily Christian... has never been.... it merely reflects what the majority of modern civilizations have evolved into....not what has gone before.

While I understand the Church has had to lead in society with regulations concerning conduct of a sexual nature, and the primary roles of men and women in procreation, it has also unfortunately set
up a "sin" department in tandem with humans' instinctive desire to experiment and enjoy sex in all manner of creative pleasures.... and it has opened the door to huge lifetimes of guilt and penalty for those who did not conform.

Through the topic of sexuality - modern religions, have become the dictators of modern morality - whether this is good or not - I'll leave it up to others to judge.
 

tamarin

House Member
Jun 12, 2006
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Good luck in the sex department! Everyone's got an angle and none is free of agendas. There are as many lives out there today broken by permissiveness as there are those blighted by puritanism. The key word is respect and sexuality without it at the centre ain't going nowhere but the local mental health ward or the local pharmacy and its anti-depressant team.
 

Curiosity

Senate Member
Jul 30, 2005
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Tamarin

Well said - now why I can't I learn brevity!!!

God and all the benevolent names we bestow on the Deity..... wields a large and impressive stick....
 

Tonington

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Oct 27, 2006
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Perhaps this Bishop doesn't represent the mainstream view of Christians on matters of sexuality, regardless of that fact I think it's great that this church leader is giving his interpretation. Perhaps the young memebers of his diocese and others will carry these messages forward. It seems that younger generations generally are more accepting of homosexuals and understand the need to break down the hate and love them like they would love their neighbour.
 

tamarin

House Member
Jun 12, 2006
3,197
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Oshawa ON
The younger generation merely reflects the broad and pernicious influence of its most persistent teacher, the media. The latter has won the propaganda war. And what the hacks have won isn't yet fully realized. It takes time to set a pudding. It's still setting.
 

Dexter Sinister

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Oct 1, 2004
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Well many in the secular world applaud the comments of Mr. Ingham ...his views hold no impact what-so-ever on the Church itself.
Well of course, what would you expect from people whose world view is stuck in the 17th century? The only way the Church ever changes its views on anything is through the slow acceptance of former heresies. Took it over 350 years to acknowledge that the earth orbits the sun, didn't it, a position it once condemned as heretical, with strong support from philosophers who gave Aristotle's works about the same status as scripture at the time. The Church learned the hard way not to make empirical claims, now it only makes untestable ones.
 

darkbeaver

the universe is electric
Jan 26, 2006
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RR1 Distopia 666 Discordia
A more positive approach to sexuality

MICHAEL INGHAM
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Christianity as a religion stands in need of a better theology of sexuality. The church must find a way to discover that human beings are sexual beings and, in the words of the creation stories in the Book of Genesis, that “this is very good.”
But this task of finding a new and positive theology of sexuality is very challenging for the church. It involves of necessity an entire reappraisal of Christian tradition, going back to the Bible itself.



He's destroys his bunker in the first line with "theology of sexuality". One is the essence of existance the other is suggested serving info on a cereal box.
 

Dexter Sinister

Unspecified Specialist
Oct 1, 2004
9,682
215
63
Regina, SK
He's destroys his bunker in the first line with "theology of sexuality". One is the essence of existance the other is suggested serving info on a cereal box.
Fabulous non sequitur beave. Which is which? Are you suggesting that theology is suggested serving info on a cereal box, or that sexuality is? My Cheerios box suggests 1 cup (30 grams). I can't see anything sexual or theological about that.
 

Curiosity

Senate Member
Jul 30, 2005
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Frankly I am going to commit an heretic act here but I want to put it in.... because there are some excellent thinkers here who have clarity about their own feelings and beliefs.

What has being religious to do with sexuality of humans and all its attendant variations: procreation, recreation, abuse, etc. etc. Generally striking fear into the hearts of the innocent. So many rules to break - how can we evolve into sexual maturation and listen without trauma to the teachings of the major religions is a conundrum.

We have many ethical and moral objectives in our search to become civilized and none of them were dictated by religion but by manmade law....for community living... for the greater good.

I believe my religious belief as an innocent let me down when I came of age and understood the words which were being given to me - that sex wasn't the uplifting and beautiful act it could be - and there were things about sexuality which were unclean and deviated.

I even viewed my family - my parents - as having performed unclean acts in order to have such a large family. It took me years of trying to work out the monstrous thoughts religion and its teachings had given me.

Even upon entering marriage some are laden with these teachings and I think it unhealthy that religions have chosen to enter into the world of how we teach and view our sexual selves.

Humans have literally had to go "underground" to express their physical selves and treat their acts of natural response as bad and unhealthy - a position I think we should never have had to experience.
 

darkbeaver

the universe is electric
Jan 26, 2006
41,035
197
63
RR1 Distopia 666 Discordia
Fabulous non sequitur beave. Which is which? Are you suggesting that theology is suggested serving info on a cereal box, or that sexuality is? My Cheerios box suggests 1 cup (30 grams). I can't see anything sexual or theological about that.

If you require clarification then you should abandon all hope and embrace your cereal box.:laughing7:
 

snfu73

disturber of the peace
Well many in the secular world applaud the comments of Mr. Ingham, I would like to note that his views are not favoured by the majority of his religious group(Anglican). In fact, the present Archbishop of Canterbury has labelled him bordering on heresy for his "advanced" viewpoints.

Mr. Ingham is also at odds with the Canadian Primate of his denomination.Rather odd really, for a denomination that, for the most part, has abandoned the faith since the 1970's.

Well I realize this will not matter a tiddley-wink to you or others what his denomination thinks of his views, I do think it is important not to get too excited into thinking Mr. Ingham represents a changed attitude in conservative "catholics" outside the Church.

And needless to say, his views hold no impact what-so-ever on the Church itself.
I don't care WHO approves of his sentiments...I commend him for saying what he has said. He is doing what I think SHOULD be done within the church more often...questioning, going to the bible and analyzing it, reexamining it, looking at the possible interpretation, wondering if what is being taught is indeed what god wants to be taught. For this I commend him. For this I admire him. I wish more religious leaders would do this. Scratch that...I feel more religous leaders MUST do this.