Friday, March 14, 2014


Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has a thoughtful post on 'Sex and Marriage'. I suggest she both gets a basic issue in current debates (when is sex sinful and when is it not) and offers an answer which begs other questions (when love is present sex is not sinful ... but that begs many questions re marriage, including why marry at all).

Time does not permit a full analysis of this post (and, in any case, that could be conducted by engaging in the comments at the post itself). Rather I want to lodge my own question here re sex which has been catalysed by her post:

why - from the perspective of Scripture as God's voice intruding in human affairs - is sex sinful in some circumstances and not in others?

To give a mere sketch of where an answer might head: sex is a physical act between two human beings which is invested with meaning beyond the basic biological fact concerning a purpose of sex, the procreation of another human being; it is the investment of meaning concerning sex which leads to concepts of sex is sometimes sinful and sometimes not; and it is the question of who invests meaning concerning sex which lies at the heart of our debates, with particular attention being paid to the following possible investors: the state, society, church, individuals and individual coupls.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Prejudice for or against?

In a post on the changing state of marriage (see no 6 in post below for link) this statement is made:

"What once again is clear when those who say the debates are not sourced in prejudice about homosexuality, but are about integrity to scripture and tradition, is that whilst a sea change has occurred in the understanding of marriage, they have only begun to register an issue when the direction heads towards committed same-sex couples."

Is the situation as straightforward as made out here?

In my mind the following questions are registering:

(a) If debates on the changing state of marriage focus on enlarging the definition of marriage to include two men or two women but not brother and sister nor three or more partners is there a prejudice for same sex partnerships and against incestuous and polygamous relationships?

(b) Put another way, if the question of change to understanding to marriage is pressed to make further change to marriage, why does it stop at a certain point and not continue? (Note: this is a double-edged question within current debates because it is precisely the question which advocates of same sex marriage can ask about the advocacy of remarriage after divorce. Nevertheless I suggest it is an important question at any point in advocacy of change).

(c) If previous change to marriage is the most pressing reason for further change to marriage (as appears to be the case in some expressions of current debate), is that a strength or a weakness? Is it not a weakness in the argument if the church reforms its understanding of marriage in a conservative direction?