The recent election of Mary Glasspool as a suffragen bishop in Los Angeles has sent the Anglican Communion into yet another frenzy of, well… I don’t want to call it “discussion” because it barely rises to that level but anyway we’re talking about sex again in the church. (Not that we ever really stopped.)
This drives me nuts. There are so many interesting things to talk about when it comes to God. Sex is kind of low on my list.
That same point is made quite wonderfully in this article in the Times of London:
Yet the impression gathered by the outside world is that prying into people’s sexuality, and discussing it endlessly, is what the Church’s leading lights do all day. Never mind their core business of saving souls. To judge from some of their public statements, it’s as if the evils of the modern world — genocidal wars, Third World exploitation, grinding poverty, abandoned children and old people — are minor issues compared to the vital matter of whether the new deputy bishop of Los Angeles cuddles her girlfriend at home.
That irritates me. The Church of England into which I was baptised, half a century ago, had many faults. But it was “a broad church”. Spoken or unspoken, its guiding tenet was that theology shouldn’t get in the way of decency and tolerance. It tried to accommodate people who varied hugely in spirituality and lifestyle. To that end it was unwilling — admirably unwilling — to issue Vatican-like diktats and proscriptions about doctrine or morals. If the phrase “live and let live” wasn’t actually written into its creed, it was certainly its modus vivendi. You didn’t judge the person sitting next to you in the pews. You embraced them (albeit in an embarrassed, British sort of way). Why? Because if Christians didn’t embrace each other, how on earth would they convince the rest of the world to do the same?…
They need to get a grip. Down in the grass roots there are thousands of priests and lay people — Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and Nonconformist, some ebulliently evangelical, some staunchly High-Church — doing great work among the dispossessed and the distraught. If that were the image of unstinting service that the Church presented to the world — an image of an organisation galvanising the consciences and positive energies of the quarter of the globe’s population that professes to be Christian — it would be harder for the rest of humanity to dismiss it as pointless, perverse and prudish.
I love his exegesis of the “let he who is without sin…” passage.
On the other hand, I had a conversation a while back with a theology professor about the role of the body in theology. This professor argued that it was the body that all the early church thinkers left out of their thinking. (Except Augustine.) He argued that this was a mistake because of the intense corporeality of human existence.