Saturday 3 April 2010

Why has homosexuality become such a major issue for the church at this moment in human history?

There are clearly many contributory factors to this question, why homosexuality, why now? The campaigns for homosexual equality which arose after the Second World War is but one of the reasons. When asked for my own thoughts, one answer I give, not entirely glibly, is that God is forcing Christians to face up to and deal with the reality and complexity of human sexuality with honesty for the first time in 2,000 years.

I don’t think the Christian view of sex and sexuality is very healthy – perhaps we who are Christian simply reflect a generic human neurosis about being sexual. Others I have questioned about this tell me I am wrong, conservative heterosexual Christians in particular. Their own relationship with their sexuality may indeed be very healthy – but then why the obsession with homosexuality? The traditional Christian teaching and ethos of sexuality is clearly not healthy – it is fatally flawed. A number of Christian teachers including Paul and Augustine bear some responsibility (this is a briefish blog and I expect to be shot at from all directions!).

The major western denominations are living through unprecedented traumas relating to human sexuality – homosexuality in the Anglican Communion and paedophile abuse in the Catholic Church.

One argument in defense of the church says the level of abuse by priests is no different from the level of abuse in society in general. If the church really had a healthy view of human sexuality, a Christian ethos of sexuality, surely abusive sexual activity would be negligible.

On Good Friday Pope Benedict XVI’s personal preacher likened criticism of the Church over the sex abuse scandal to “collective violence” suffered by the Jews. The Catholic Church reactions to reports about priests abusing children are turned round to become reports of abuse against the Church and the Pope, a strategy deeply offensive to Jews. Both the Church and the Pope are corporately responsible for maintaining a culture which breeds abusive persons and fails to deal with it appropriately.

The Anglican Communion’s various strategic reactions to the challenges homosexuality varies from Province to Province as well as their being a corporate strategy. Pro-gay advocates distrust the corporate strategy fearing the Anglican Covenant will be used as a further instrument of abuse by inhibiting progress towards the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Communion.

In England, dominant conservative bishops argue for exemption from equality legislation and for ‘Issues’ and Lambeth 1.10 to be imposed as church policy. Both documents impose abusive rules for LGBT people. Reactionary conservative evangelicals and catholics deny the presence of healthy, faithfully partnered lesbian and gay people in their midst while attempting to impose their prejudice and fear on the whole church. They also contribute to the abusive culture of the church.
In Africa the church reacts by supporting punitive, abusive legislation against LGBT people and constantly repeating lies and myths about us.

The church’s teaching on marriage and human sexuality is promoted within a general culture about human sexuality in the church which is in denial of reality, unhealthy and creates the breeding ground in which systemic abuse occurs.

I believe the edifice is crumbling, destroyed from within by 2,000 years of unhealthy teaching and attitudes towards sexual diversity, the status of women and the role of women in marriage among other strands, and destroyed from without by global social changes which are deconstructing unhealthy taboos (and at the same time grossly over-sexualise our culture – getting human sexuality into healthy balance isn’t easy!).

The church reacts defensively, the Catholic Church attacking it’s critics, the Anglican conservatives attacking LGBT people.

In his interview for BBC Radio 4's Start the Week programme to be broadcast on Monday the Archbishop of Canterbury names the abuse in the Catholic Church. This is the only way our churches will begin to confront systemic abuse and ultimately create an environment in which healthier attitudes to human sexuality can flourish.

Rowan Williams says the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has lost all credibility over the way it has dealt with paedophile priests. This has, he says, been a "colossal trauma" for the Church which has affected the wider public. A report in The Telegraph today says that an abuse hotline set up by the Catholic Church in Germany melted down on its first day of operation as more than 4,000 victims of alleged paedophile and violent priests called in to seek counselling and advice. The Telegraph says they are ‘alleged’ victims (I have corrected this sentence - surely they mean that the allegations are made against priests who abused children, not that someone is alleging that victims were abused?).

I note the language being used by the Archbishop of Canterbury, “colossal trauma”, and by Pope Benedict’s personal preacher, “collective violence”, and Andreas Zimmer from Germany, “that kind of an onslaught” and “an escalating abuse scandal that threatens the papacy”. The language used reflects the sometimes shocking, abusive culture of sexuality in the Church.

The churches have over the centuries internalized abusive attitudes towards human sexuality. Celibate Roman Catholic priests act out this culture by abusing children and young people sexually and according to other reports, adults including lay women and nuns. Anglican churches act out their inability to integrate sexuality by projecting their fears onto LGBT people. Meanwhile, others, thank God, pursue a calm, rational, intellectual, theological exploration of human sexuality from an emotionally secure interior self.

Meanwhile, LGBT Anglicans are angered by the outrages perpetrated against us and against women, children and young people. And if this chaos is indeed instigated by God after 2,000 years, then I pray the Church will be further humiliated, shamed and traumatised until she is able to totally re-examine her attitudes to human sexuality and create a culture of deeply loving, tender, respectful, intimate relationships based on truth, freedom and fidelity.
Tender God,
you have seen my affliction
and unbound my eyes;
you have bereaved me of the burden
to which I used to cling;
you have woven my pain
into patterns of integrity;
the wounds that I cherished
you have turned into worships,
and the scars I kept hidden
into marks of truth.
You have touched me gently;
I have seen you face and I live.

Passiontide canticle from Out of the Silence…Prayer’s Daily Round by Jim Cotter

Colin Coward


  1. is pop benedicth it?

  2. You probably will be attacked from all sides, Colin, but it's still true that while the Church has been obsessed with sex for the past couple of millennia, the Bible hasn't.
    On the other hand, the Bible and Jesus had a lot to say about social justice, helping the poor and marginalised and the dangers of wealth and power.
    The thunderous condemnation of anything sexual (apart from marriage and the procreation of the race) hides the fact that only the faintest of squeaks can be heard coming from the church regarding the hoarding of wealth, the abuse of power and the exploitation of workers here and worldwide.
    It all looks to me like a classic case of the illusionist's sleight of hand.
    The motive? The church, for all it's Kingdom rhetoric still likes to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful and doesn't want to offend them.
    LGBT people on the other hand - well nobody likes us anyway do they?

  3. No, its a 'people who are messed up regarding their sexuality' issue, and a 'misuse of power' issue.

    How many of the priests concerned would claim to be happy and well balanced gay men? None, because that isn't what they are

  4. Most people who claim that are whistling in the graveyard.

  5. Let´s see. I´ve known Gay RC Priests. I´ve known Gay RC Priests who have been celibate and sometimes not. Fine Gay men who were/are not child molesters or sex REAL life experience.

    I´ve known a Pedophile Episcopal Church Priest who was very talented/admired as a Priest yet unable to face REALITY...but it got very REAL for him as it turned out and he fled. This sad case of betrayal, personal and otherwise, also included the many friends and supporters who were misled and emotionally and spiritually harmed...honest, the guy left/escaped leaving a trail of sadness/slime that was unthinkable to well-meaning human beings...Christian or not, ready or not, ANON, you don´t know what the Hell you´re writing/talking about so shut the f<*k up as it is YOU that harm and slander LGBT Christians/others.

  6. I don't know hell? This happened to my son, my precious son.

  7. Then, dear Anonymous, you more than anyone else have a stake in our attempts at getting the churches to see where their warped attitude to sexuality leads them.

    Encourage healthy adults into healthy stable relationships, don't demonise them, don't push them underground, don't scapegoat them.
    Don't create an organisation that attracts and shelters those with psychological problems by demanding celibacy - something only those granted that gift can truly fulfil.

    Your hatred and scapegoating may make you feel righteous but it won't help to solve the problem.
    Just think for a moment - if it were not homosexuals as a whole who are the problem, then your fight against homosexuals would not address the true problem.

    This is exactly what the Pope is doing at the moment - ignoring what is really the cause of all of this and preferring instead to scapegoat secularism etc.
    The sad thing is not just the bitterness it causes in you, the truly sad thing is that it doesn't work – and so the cycle continues and continues – and all are implicated: those whose guilt makes them too blind to see and those whose hatred makes them too blind to see.

  8. The pope and the boy scouts have made the right decision -- to exclude those with established homosexual tendencies from leadership, because there have been far too many of them whose behavior is just like Ricardo with his language -- obscenely abusive. It's not a policy that can been ascribed to hatred but to a review of what has occurred. If you want to talk about a sad thing, Erika, why not mention what happened to my son? Forgiveness is appropriate -- I pray for this man -- but so is caution.

  9. Anonymous
    I am extremely sad about your son, and like everyone else on this forum I am appalled at the abuse so many priests committed on children. In fact, I am appalled at any abuse committed on any child, and if it happened to my own daughters, I think I would hate the perpetrator forever. And unlike you, I don't think I would be Christlike enough to forgive him or to pray for him.

    I assume that you have reason to believe the abuser was homosexual - although the fact that he abused a boy is, in itself, not enough indication of that. Many paedophiles abuse boys and girls and whether someone is a paedophile or not seems to have very little to do with their underlying sexuality.

    So what I don't find particularly intelligent is the leap from "one homosexual abused a boy" to "all gays are deviants".
    It's about as intelligent as saying that because most abusers of children are straight fathers, uncles and friends of the family, all straights are deviants.

    And I do believe that, were you not so blinded by hatred, you would not think like that because you are more intelligent than you present yourself here.

    We have to be really careful here because the wrong diagnosis leads to the wrong “solutions”. Just imagine for a moment that you might be wrong and that hatred and prejudice like yours only scapegoats a group of people without addressing the real problem. Then the abuse would go on and on and on and ever more children would in future be subject to it.
    If you really want it to stop you should start to use your brain, look at real causes, the real complexity of sexuality and human sexual behaviour, and then support the kind of solutions that will actually make a difference.
    Because in truth, it doesn’t matter what you feel about a particular group of people. What matters is whether we can, together, be constructive enough to decrease the amount of abuse carried out by sexually inadequate people who hide in cosy organisations.

  10. I'm getting very wary about this use of the word hatred.Maybe I haven't known enough gays, but I can't even apply the word "dislike" to the ones I have known, and I haven't even heard any comments in I think a couple of decades that could be categorized as expressing hatred. I'm starting to think it's a way of disguising the very real and practical and physical harm that gays do to one another that in its consequences far exceeds anything that others might think of doing to them.

  11. Anonymous
    You didn't need to tell us that you haven't met many gay people in your life, that's patently obvious from your posts.
    And the only person who can do something about that and meet real people, understand real lives and have his prejudice melting in the light of reality is you.
    The choice is yours.

    Something tells me you will stick with unexamined prejudice.
    But you really don't have to.

  12. Anonymous, you are fortunate not to have heard the comments expressing hatred against gay people in over two decades. I read and hear language on a daily basis expressing hatred against gay people. I was sent, in the last hour, details of a Kenyan web site which describes 'satanic efforts to legalise homosexuality' and advocates that homosexuals be driven back into the closet, arrested and prosecuted for sodomy according to God's law. This is the language of hate.

    What practical and physical harm that gays do to one another are you referring to? This is a Christian blog for Christian LGBT people and our supporters. To me, someone who suggests that any of us do practical and physical harm to one another is spreading lies and hatred about us, because it isn't true. The consequence of spreading lies and false rumours rebounds on those who are guilty of doing so, but also reinforces the prejudice against LGBT people which we are trying to overcome, in the name of Jesus Christ the healer.

  13. Mr. Coward,

    Well, I'll take your word for it that real hatred exists out there.

    There's something very seriously amiss, however, if you can ask a question like that. Without going into detail, it is very clear from even a casual search that the characteristic form of sexual activity among gays has led to rates of disease and trauma so serious as to be an absolute pandemic. Unlike normal sexual activity, this isn't based that much on the promiscuity fact but primarily on the fact that nature didn't design the body to withstand this form of sex. It seems to me that playing the ostrich about this is the main factor that enables a ministry like yours to survive, because your kind of benevolent is far more dangerous than many others' malevolence.

  14. Anonymous
    "even a casual search" - well, that's precisely the problem. Since when has any casual search on anything ever turned up anything other than gutter tripe and tabloid stuff. Real research requires a bit more effort, a bit more intellectual integrity.

    It's your choice.

  15. The sheer volume of evidence makes a difference after a while, because that's the nature of evidence. It's almost always possible to dismiss individual items or impugn the motives of sources. But it's like a trial where a man has killed his wife. The jury may find reasons to dismiss the gun found on the lawn, the existence of the other woman, or the insurance policy payable on her death, but once things start adding up, a rational conclusion becomes inescapable. Same here: voluminous evidence from many quarters gathered on one side of the issue.

  16. "Quite obviously it is YOU that MUST accept the not-so-hot-choice YOU MADE by putting your SON in harms way!"

    The gold medal ski jumper at Vancouver was amazing, but not compared to that leap of logic.

  17. Strikes me it's time to end this conversation. Anon is turning into a troll like all the other anons before him.
    What a shame!

  18. Sorry Anonymous, it is about YOU and YOUR choices and you won´t be able to keep running from the truth...sooner, hopefully rather than later, you´ll get a grip on reality and face to the TRUTH that you prefered to live in your dreamworld bubble than to face FACT...and you´re still doing it even though you are free-falling into the false reality of your own´re simply not yet ready to stand firm and tall and face the REAL issues in everyday life...until that time, you can continue to pretend you are responsible and accountable by rushing around blaming others like a chicken with its screaching head cut off...grow up, you can´t hide out here with your wild diversionary tactics.

  19. Actually, anon, I’m not quite done.
    I do have to tell you that I am absolutely appalled by your behaviour here.
    You come here hurting and angry because of what happened to your son and you ask us to feel sad for him, all the while wildly accusing us of an immorality that’s only taking place in your mind and for which you have no evidence. Well, you’re hurting so you might be forgiven some mindless aggression.

    But then 2 people tell you that they have been abused too. And yet, all you can do is ridicule them and accuse them of being deviants that your little seedy research shows have no place in decent human society?
    Where’s your compassion for these people? Why do they deserve less than your son? Have you no humility? No sense of perspective?

    Leonardo is right. You are entirely responsible for your own choices in life, you are responsible for your emotions and for how you interact with the world.
    You could try growing up.
    The choice is yours.

  20. Well, this is all going to be dismaying news to the members of the relevant organizations of parents, since they only have themselves to blame.

  21. True, you and puffed up pride filled filthy/paranoid imagined reality are to blame when seeking healing, protection and solutions to hault the EVIL SEXUAL MOLESTING OF taking a very close look at who is responsible for the ¨opportunity¨ for the molesting of your son, and mostly likely other sons at the same venue, will require that you no longer accept what you WISH to be HONORABLE AND HOLDY and start paying attention to what IS TRUE and HONORABLE AND HOLY! What REALLY did happen? DID YOU ASK QUESTIONS! DID YOU TRUST THE UNTRUSTWORTHY and refuse to accept the mistake of bad judgment? What was the trauma like for your Son? How can you help him heal emotionally without turning him into a misinformed, angry and self-righteous damaged bigot? Accept truth in your life and please stop blaming your embarrassment, pain and hatefilled, yet self imagined holy/rationalized, PURE PREJUDICE on the likes of are dead wrong and you harm others with your tormented glee and make yourself unavailable to TRUTH and the helping of your son.

    You´ll like reality, it just takes some getting used to, meantime, let your son grow away smoothly from this experience without contaminating him with further fear and´ve generated many UNLOVING lies here, don´t take them home unless you are willing to face the outcome of your own dangerous blind ignorance with more hurt done to your son.

    Lord have mercy on you and your son

  22. I have urged my son, right from the beginning, only to take a forgiving attitude toward the offender and to avoid any kind of an unloving attitude toward homosexuals in general.


    Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on two news stories released today by the Associated Press:

    One of the AP stories on priestly sexual abuse admits that "The overwhelming majority of the victims were adolescents. That means very few guilty priests were pedophiles, a term mental health professionals reserve for those who target pre-pubescent children." Fine. But then it says something which is positively remarkable: "Even though about 80 percent of victims were boys, the John Jay researchers and other experts on sex offenders say it does not mean the perpetrators were gay." So what would they be? Heterosexual?

    The AP article relied on the extraordinary remark by Margaret Smith, a professor who worked on the John Jay study. She said that while Donohue "quoted the study's data correctly," I nonetheless "drew an unwarranted conclusion." What? That most of the molesters have been gay? Here is what she said: "The majority of the abusive acts were homosexual in nature. That participation in homosexual acts is not the same as sexual identity as a gay man." So if two men sodomize each other, no one really knows if this qualifies as gay sex. Now I must admit that when I was studying for my doctorate in sociology at NYU, they never taught me such logic.

    Both AP stories say the reason why there were so many male victims is because the priests did not have access to girls as altar servers. Nonsense. There have been girl altar servers in some U.S. dioceses since 1983, and almost everywhere since 1994. The statistics actually show that the more priests have access to girls, the less likely it is for girls to be abused.

    Here's the tally. As reported in 2004, between 1950 and 2002, 81 percent of the victims were male; in 2005, it stayed the same; in 2006, it dropped to 80 percent; in 2007, it climbed to 82 percent; in 2008, it jumped to 84 percent; and in 2009, it stayed at 84 percent.

    In other words, even though priests have less access to males, homosexual priests are molesting them at a higher rate. It's time to end the gay cover-up once and for all.

  24. I'm assuming that anon is referring to anal sex here. This site is for grown-ups isn't it? We can say these things here? If not - just delete this post but I wanted to correct the tabloid opinion of what it means to be a gay man.
    I had a male partner for seven years until he was killed in a bus crash. We tried sex that way once and didn't like it so we turned to other techniques that we found more satisfying and more loving. I know lots of men who like sex that way and lots who don't but it isn't really the issue.
    Two men in a long term loving and faithful relationship aren't going to contribute to any kind of "pandemic" however they choose to make love.
    As for all the other "health risks" the way to avoid them is a loving relationship - something gay people have a hard time finding in the face of prejudice and -yes- hatred.
    Where am I now? I'm married with grown up children. I'm bisexual, you see, although apparently we don't exist.
    Like I said if it's too explicit - delete the post but I get tired of the misinformation that's always quoted about gay people and sex. We're as varied as anyone else in our preferences and, like anyone else, the sexual act is only a small part of the whole range of intimacy and love in our relationships.

  25. 90% do the anal thing -- dangerous even in a faithful relationship


    Human physiology makes it clear that the body was not designed to accommodate this activity. The rectum is significantly different from the vagina with regard to suitability for penetration by a penis. The vagina has natural lubricants and is supported by a network of muscles. It is composed of a mucus membrane with a multi-layer stratified squamous epithelium that allows it to endure friction without damage and to resist the immunological actions caused by semen and sperm. In comparison, the anus is a delicate mechanism of small muscles that comprise an "exit-only" passage. With repeated trauma, friction and stretching, the sphincter loses its tone and its ability to maintain a tight seal. Consequently, anal intercourse leads to leakage of fecal material that can easily become chronic.

    The potential for injury is exacerbated by the fact that the intestine has only a single layer of cells separating it from highly vascular tissue, that is, blood. Therefore, any organisms that are introduced into the rectum have a much easier time establishing a foothold for infection than they would in a vagina. The single layer tissue cannot withstand the friction associated with penile penetration, resulting in traumas that expose both participants to blood, organisms in feces, and a mixing of bodily fluids.

    Furthermore, ejaculate has components that are immunosuppressive. In the course of ordinary reproductive physiology, this allows the sperm to evade the immune defenses of the female.

  27. ¨For all of Pope Benedict XVI's faults, he did get one thing right. As the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation notes, even Papa Ratzi understood that gays and lesbians have nothing to do with the Church's problem with holding sex abusers accountable. They cite Jim FitzGerald from the Catholic organization Call to Action. “Even the Pope during his 2008 visit to the United States said that this crisis is not about gays and lesbians,” FitzGerald said. “U.S. Catholics are tired of hearing about the false causes of this crisis from people like Bill Donohue and, instead, are ready for the Church to address the real causes of the crisis: lack of accountability and cover-ups.” Why limit that statement to just U.S. Catholics. Most everyone, regardless of faith, is sick and tired of seeing gays and lesbians thrown under the bus to justify bad institutional church behavior.¨

  28. In response to Anonymous's concern over the possible health risks of anal sex - I would have thought that educating all young people on the pros/cons and possible risks of anal penetration would be the answer and to separate the discussion from homosexuality entirely.

    I ought not to know this but I do - heterosexual pornography and non-pornographic 'lads' mags' now portray anal sex as commonplace if not de rigeur - a generation of young heterosexual men is growing up expecting this to be a normal part of sexual activity with women. The rights and wrongs of this can be debated but it is clear that to target health concerns about anal sex solely at gay men is missing the point completely.

    Laurence Cunnington

  29. Ninety per cent sounds like a figure plucked from the air to bolster a stereotype.
    If you have a genuine source so be it but it doesn't correspond to my personal experience.

    Also, gay men aren't the only ones to indulge in anal sex or the use of anal sex toys.

    People do many things that are injurious or potentially injurious but that is their choice. No one here supports non consensual acts but what people do willingly is surely none of your business.

  30. Jumping off a high building would be my choice too. It would be your choice whether to encourage me but your duty to do the opposite.

  31. Don´t worry anonymous creep, you are in no danger if you land on your it often and see.

  32. The only thing that matters is not whether I am all the things I've been called here but whether what I'm saying is better for the well-being of gays and of young people or whether what these others are saying is better. We're talking not about subjective feelings but about what's objectively real.

  33. Unfortunately, anonymous, you´re a liar, obsessed and near blown away insane (a terrified pervert dwelling on anal male sex and seeking out listeners for your zealous junktalk and made up family stories on the computer)...what matters and what´s REAL is something you´ll have to look into if you want to get a grip on self-clarity and have a little desire for peace of mind, common decency and IF you don´t act out and harm yourself, or others (more than you do already).

  34. Ricardo, I apologize for my role in the disagreement between us. Please forgive me.

  35. I would just add that the part about my son was not something I made up.

  36. "I would just add that the part about my son was not something I made up."

    Good, now stop spreading lies about the good people on this string and get on with your life. They had NOTHING to do with the misfortune of your son.

    Get a life bud.

  37. I think you guys are arguing with an old enemy, the Anal Troll who used to frequent Mad Priest's blog until MP activated the moderation that has prevented folks like this from posting comments.

    He shall return, it is in his blood. He will have all of his misconstrued "research" and will begin spreading it here as he did before at MP's unless Colin takes steps at moderation.

    It is his obsession. He will do it as long as a venue allows him to do it. I seriously doubt this person has a PhD in Sociology. That is part of his false credentials to lure some into believing he knows of which he speaks. He does not!

    Ban him now Colin, before he gets too far.

  38. I agree David. He fooled me at first but then when he didn't engage with any of the points any of us made it became clear that he was a troll. And in the end his well known style will out and yes, he's indeed our AT from a number of blogs. He's just so shockingly boring!

    A number of blog owners seem to have managed to get rid of him eventually.
    And I agree, Colin, that it might be a good idea to do that here too, simply because the blog will become a no-read zone for anyone who normally reads it and that would be a real shame.

  39. If 80% of victims are not children, perhaps the "p" label has been misued or overused?

    Abusers may have been just that and may even hide behind the 'p' label i.e. using it as a kind of "I cannot help it" defence....when they were merely abusers and must take resposibility for their abuse.