Tag Archives: conferences

"Redefining Marriage?" (Birmingham Conference, Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality)

The bitter and divisive arguments in the struggles towards marriage equality have highlighted some important issues around the institution of marriage, challenging many common assumptions. For example:

  • The claim by opponents that we cannot redefine marriage are groundless – marriage has been constantly evolving, or “being redefined”, throughout human history. Traditional marriage is not threatened by gay marriage  – issues like widespread promiscuity, cohabitation without marriage, adultery and divorce are far more serious threats.
  • In many modern weddings, the expensive social occasion and conspicuous expense, with the wedding planner a more important presider over ritual than the priest or pastor, has undermined the religious significance of the institution.
  • The inherently patriarchal nature of traditional marriage, raises the question whether civil unions may be more desirable – for different sex couples, as well as for gay men and lesbians.
  • It is untrue that same – sex couples cannot form enduring, stable relationships. There is abundant research evidence to show the contrary, and that on balance same – sex couples are often happier than different – sex couples, because they are more likely to be based on genuine partnership, equality and negotiation.
  • While most gay men and lesbians are overwhelmingly in favour of equal access in law to marriage, some are ambivalent about the extent to which they want it for themselves, wondering if they really want to give up the more relaxed attitude to open relationships, or the single lifestyles, they’ve previously enjoyed.
  • Conversely, some heterosexual people have begun to ask whether their relationships too, could benefit from some tolerance of relationships outside the marriage? Continue reading "Redefining Marriage?" (Birmingham Conference, Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality)

The Gay Catholic Quest for Dignity, Integrity

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
– Matt 18:20

That’s any two or three – including two or three gay and lesbian people.

Catholic teaching on LGBT people is crystal clear: we are to be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, should be free of any unjust discrimination, and must be protected from any malice or actual violence, in speech or in action. It also includes, as Pope Francis recently reminded us, that it is not up to anybody else, even for himself, to judge others – including gay and lesbian people.

Francis, Who Am I to Judge

The experience of far too many gay and lesbian Catholics sadly, is that very many ordinary Catholics, and some priests and even bishops, simply ignore these compassionate elements of teaching  to focus exclusively on the best known part of Vatican doctrine – that all genital acts outside of marriage and not open to procreation, are prohibited. That prohibition of course, applies equally to everybody – but those who rant and rail so frequently against homosexuals in the Church, are usually strangely silent on that.

Another important element of Catholic teaching applicable to people of any orientation and spelled out clearly in the Catechism is that sexuality is an important part of our human make – up, which needs to be integrated into our personalities.

“Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.” (2333)

and

“Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another” (2337)

Continue reading The Gay Catholic Quest for Dignity, Integrity

After 40 Years, Entry into the Promised Land?

LGBT writers on affirmative readings of Scripture have frequently used the story of Exodus and the escape from Egypt as an analogy for our journey from bondage to freedom, just as African Americans had previously done (for example, in the Negro spiritual “Let My People Go”). But when I began reading the excellent “Queer Bible Commentary”, it occurred to me that a more relevant story is what comes next: the forty years of wandering in the desert. (Allowing for some flexibility for poetic licence, it’s roughly forty years since Stonewall, one marker of the birth of the gay liberation movement). It was entirely appropriate therefore,  that the theme for our fortieth anniversary conference was “From Wasteland to Promised Land”, which was described by guest speaker Daniel O’Leary not as a journey, but as a “blossoming”.

Desert in bloom with everlasting daisies
Desert in bloom with everlasting daisies

Continue reading After 40 Years, Entry into the Promised Land?