The U.S. Episcopal Church has just reaffirmed their commitment to ordaining openly gay priests. Thus the Global Anglican Communion moves closer to the ever talked about schism. N.T. Wright, perhaps the most influential living Anglican theologian, wrote a condemnatory op-ed in which he reaffirms the Christian Church’s traditional ban on those engaging in same sex relationships. The whole article is worth reading, but his seems to me the key bit:
“Our supposedly selfish genes crave a variety of sexual possibilities. But Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachers have always insisted that lifelong man-plus-woman marriage is the proper context for sexual intercourse. This is not (as is frequently suggested) an arbitrary rule, dualistic in overtone and killjoy in intention. It is a deep structural reflection of the belief in a creator God who has entered into covenant both with his creation and with his people (who carry forward his purposes for that creation).
Paganism ancient and modern has always found this ethic, and this belief, ridiculous and incredible. But the biblical witness is scarcely confined, as the shrill leader in yesterday’s Times suggests, to a few verses in
Before responding to this I should say two things: (1) I’ve been reading N.T. Wright for the past couple of years and I have enormous respect for him and his writings, despite our disagreement over this issue. (2) I am hardly a “good” Christian, so I don’t wish to pronounce to other Christians from a lofty perspective. This being said, I fully affirm the rights of gays and lesbians to participate in every aspect of the Christian church. I realize most Christians disagree with me on this, so I’ll briefly try and explain my thinking.
First of all, Wright ignores the fact that Jesus makes no explicit mention of homosexuality in the gospels. Sure, he has a passage about the importance of marriage and a couple of criticisms of “fornication” but on the whole he seems very uninterested in casting judgments on human sexuality; he has bigger issues to deal with(of course, Bart Ehrman will step in here and tell me that the gospels are embellishments; but he is entitled to his belief and I am entitled to mine). Yes,
And if we look at Jesus himself, we find him with some shocking things to say about vices the Church seems to tolerate. In the Sermon on the Mount he explicitly condemns violence against enemies. Yet most churches send Chaplains to the
For most gays and lesbians, their sexual orientation is intrinsic to their identity. This isn’t a willful rebellion; this is who they are. Wright seems to view human sexuality as a neat programmed package intended for marriage and procreation. Yet in Andrew Sullivan’s book “The Conservative Soul” he makes a powerful argument involving the female clitoris. Why, he asks, should women have an area of sexual stimulation which is unnecessary for procreation? It’s a provocative question to say the least. Why did God make that? Perhaps for the same reason He made gay people. I realize most Christians disagree with me, but I just can’t keep silent on this issue.