August 13, 2005


Sexual doctrine swings both ways: So it’s okay for priests to be gay, so long as they don't have sex? The Church of England once again gets its cassocks in a knot. (Jamie Douglass, 8/11/05, Spiked)

Once again the Church of England has managed to get its cassocks in a knot over the thorny issue of gay priests. Never mind that for years the church has contained at least as many practising and non-practising homosexuals as any other profession, it remains a huge problem doctrinally and ethically. Like a particularly itchy scab, they just can't resist picking over and again. And now there is some new legislation to play with.

The new rules are confused and somewhat absurd. Basically, the church has now deemed it okay to be openly gay as long as you promise not to have sex. Which is ridiculous. Doctrinally speaking, if it is okay for heterosexual clergy to have sex with their partners, and if it is okay to be gay, then it follows that it should be permitted for gay clergy to have sex. Gay sex. With their partners. Any other response voids one of the first two suppositions. Thus the question might be rephrased as 'is it okay by God to be gay?'.

The problem is not that Biblical teaching is unclear; quite the reverse in fact. It issues an unequivocal one-word answer: no. According to Leviticus and to Pauline teaching, it is abhorrent to God to be homosexual. Leviticus 20:13 states something approximating 'If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death'. Can't get clearer than that.

Somehow the confusion eludes me. As long as they don't lay with other men they haven't violated Biblical teaching.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2005 6:18 AM

This article illustrates nicely the popular perception that denying anyone gay sex is an outrage because heteros, of course, are allowed to rut at will.

Posted by: Peter B at August 14, 2005 5:14 AM

Well, it may elude you, mate, but most readers will have spotted it in the last four lines of the second paragraph. But then they might have read the whole article, instead of cutting it to manipulate the context. You never know.

Posted by: Sam Gisoad at September 1, 2005 11:49 AM

Mr. Gisoad:

I still don't see it. Gay sex is sinful. Why should a religion allow it?

Posted by: oj at September 1, 2005 12:08 PM

The issue debated in the article was NOT whether gay sex was sinful or not, though, was it? It was the CofE's problem. I thought Douglass made that fairly clear, but, for the record, here's the breakdown:

1. The CofE says priests can have sex.
2. The CofE says it's fine by God if you're a practising homosexual.
3. Therefore it follows that gay priests can have sex.
If NOT then either:
- it is not okay for priests to have sex
- it is not okay to be a practising homosexual.
The Bible says in two places that gay sex is not allowed.
1. Leviticus
2. Romans.
1. Christians do a lot of things banned in Leviticus(like eating shellfish or touching women who have menstruated recently)
2. The C of E has women priests, also banned by St Paul.
The point that Douglass made, therefore (I think quite well) was that this position is totally inconsistent with the rest of the CofE's practises. Frankly, it doesn't matter whether you think gay sex is sinful or not, this is about the CofE, not you.

Posted by: Sam Gisoad at September 1, 2005 4:25 PM

Just because you feel attracted to other men doesn't require you to have sex with them. Indeed, Catholic priests are attracted to women but aren't allowed to have sex with them. There's a double standard where gay sex is concerned because it is a sin.

2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Nothing wrong with the CpofE feeling enough shame to at least require its clergy to not sin.

Posted by: oj at September 1, 2005 4:59 PM

Not sure that quote solves anything: it means nothing - you're talking about the recommendations of the Old Testament God in a pre-lapsarian universe...
But you're still talking about sin, where I'm talking about doctrine. The CofE has said that it doesnt think it's sinful to be a practising homosexual, and (as pointed out above) cannot use the Bible as the prescriptive source of canon law anyway because they ignore so much of it. I mean, whilst we're on the topic, on what basis do *you* consider gay sex to be sinful?

Posted by: sam gisoad at September 3, 2005 4:17 AM

It's what we were Created for: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

And homosexuality is sinful because it degrades the doer and the done. There is no love in it, just hatred.

Your argument seems to be that because the CofE has so much rot it can't anywhere be morally healthy. Rather than let its clergy get up to buggery it should return to forbidding its adherents to do so.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 8:09 AM

Leaving aside, for a moment, the fact that you clearly believe the Bible to be literally and unalterably the word of God, which does reveal either a complete ignorance or willful disregard of Biblical history (we can discuss that later) you're still failing to address the issue of why the statements of the Old Testament God in a pre-lapsarian world apply now.
"...degrades the doer and the done. There is no love in it, just hatred." That's not a basis. That's opinion. On what do you *base* that opinion? It can't be personal experience, and does suggest that you've never met a gay person.

Posted by: sam gisoad at September 3, 2005 2:48 PM

I know plenty--none are happy with themselves. of course, if they were they wouldn't choose to degrade themselves and others. Anal sex is how beasts establish dominance and submission over one another.

The Fall didn't change God's purposes for Creation, just the likelihood of our achieving them any time soon. Homosexuality is symptomatic of our Fallen natures. It is to be overcome, not accepted.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 2:55 PM