Monday, March 08, 2010

Lent blog 11: Making Peace about Sexual ethics?

I was never going to manage 40 posts for 40 days, but at least I've made double figures!

I was interested to see that James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, used his presidential address to his Diocesan Synod to attempt to set a new tone in the debate over homosexuality within the Church of England. It continues to be an issue which emerges in debates regularly, and is increasingly defining a number of boundaries. The obvious one is 'liberal' and 'conservative' within the church, although those labels become very difficult to define and very unhelpful to use. It's also becoming a main reason for secularism to see the Church as bigoted and prejudiced and therefore should be viewed with suspicion when active in public life, such as education.

Quite a few years ago in a sermon in Coventry, I used an analogy with the debate about Just War/pacifism to illustrate the deep divides within Christianity over ethics which have not tended to tip over into defining 'orthodoxy'. Since being online, I also blogged about orthodoxy and the sexuality debate here, and in a later post noted that you can have anything from a Catholic to a Calvinist theology of holy communion and stay within the Church of England without the same fuss being made.

Bishop James gives a more thorough and articulate exploration of this (and I'm sure he hasn't read this blog!) but it's good to see someone suggesting that we could be a single united church with a diversity of views on this issue. We've done it before' why can't we do it on this?

Perhaps an answer to that is that sexuality issues are just a bit too personal for such a peace to exist. It would certainly indicate a move towards maturity and self-confidence if we could at least move away from some of the hysteria that has surrounded this debate so far.

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