Saturday, July 25, 2009

People, gospel, issues in human sexuality

Richard Kew is as thoughtful a priest as you can get, with the added bonus that he has deep knowledge of both TEC and the C of E, having worked for many years in the former, and grown up in the latter, to which he has recently returned to work. His whole post, sparked by reading Oliver O' Donovan's recent book, A Conversation Waiting to Begin: The churches and the gay controversy (London: SCM Press, 2009), and discovering that one of his 'nearest and dearest' is actively gay, is worth reading. I give just a few paragraphs here:

"Rather than pontificating, he graciously nudges us to look at issue within the context of the changed realities with which we live in an evolving culture. Each relatively short chapter asks us to come at the topic using tools of ethical and theological scholarship, Scripture, hermeneutics, and measuring these against the substantial doctrines of creation and redemption. Sometimes he speaks overtly about being logical and reasonable in our quest, but on almost every page he is whispering this as if between the lines.

Why is it, he asks, that this one little thing has proved so explosive and divisive? Well, comes back the answer, it depends what you mean by 'one little thing?' How little actually is this? In the fourth century the church as it went through the exercise of creed-making seemed to be riven over one little iota, but in reality that discussion was about a great deal more because at stake was affirming a truthful understanding of the nature of God or one that is idolatrous. Are we, he asks, in a similar situation here?

While never exactly giving a definitive answer to such a question, by leading us along a number of different pathways as we approach the topic he leaves us nodding and saying, "Yes, there is an enormous amount at stake here of which differing understandings of human sexuality are merely the trigger."

Part of what is being said is that we have probably not given as much attention as we should to the changing social climate of the world in which we now live. Certainly since the nineteenth century, and especially within Anglicanism, there has existed a 'liberalism' that has modulated disagreement and enabled diversity to exist within the context of a generous unity. This underlying liberalism has been able to step back, untangle the skein, reconcile conflicting views, tone down exaggerated positions, forge coalitions, square circles, and in the process find a commonsense way through (page 5)."

Richard Kew does not do hermeneutics per se here as he reflects, but he leads us into the nuances of the contexts of society and church in which we seek to do hermeneutics. Worth a look.

No comments:

Post a Comment