Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The world and the church

In our Hermeneutical Hui on sexuality we will be taking a next step on a journey as a church (associated with the journey of the Communion) in exploring issues in our understanding of the Bible such as Does God through the Bible approve or disapprove of faithful permanent stable same sex partnerships (am hoping we are all agreed that God disapproves of casual sexual relationships of any kind)? To get to that question we are probably going to engage with questions such as What is the Bible, Does it have authority in the church, Is the (obvious) disapproval of same sex relationships in the Bible altered by change in understanding of homosexuality in modern times? And, although some people vigorously disapprove of these kinds of issues being teased out, there will be at least in some people's minds questions of what is 'normal', 'harmful' and the like, including, perhaps, the question whether 'marriage' is a term which can be extended beyond relationships between men and women.

Then, almost certainly, whether mentioned or not, there will be a strong shared sense of the right within a liberal democracy to be able to think, talk and publicly discuss what one believes about matters as fundamentally important to humanity as the ethics of human sexuality, including the ethics of homosexuality.

But in the world (or 'world') the approach to homosexuality moves forward rapidly. Is the church being lost in the wake of the following from the UK ... or is a new kind of fascism rising up in the strangest of guises - this time named 'Liberal Democrat'?

"Faith schools should be legally obliged to teach that homosexuality is "normal and harmless", and gay civil partnerships should be replaced by true marriage, Nick Clegg said last night.

In a pitch for the gay vote unprecedented in its scope, ahead of a general election likely in May, the leader of the Liberal Democrats threw down the gauntlet to his opponents. He called on the Tories, and in particular the Conservative leader David Cameron, who has voted against gay rights, to prove that they really supported full gay equality."

The rest of the report is here in the Independent.

(David Cameron may have an easy way out of this. In Sharia conscious, Church of England established Britain he can point out that 'faith schools' cannot be legally obliged to teach what contradicts their faith. So either faith schools must go, or no such legal obligation can be imposed. My sense is that the former option would be more unpopular with the voters than resisting Nick Clegg's challenge.)

H/T a retweet from Simon Sarmiento

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