Here’s an interesting blog by Canon Gavin Ashenden, a Queen’s Chaplain, explaining why he changed his mind on the issue of homosexuality.
I have always liked the majority of gay people I met – especially the Christian ones; it was a sort of affectionate instinct.
But ‘God spoke to me’ about the practice of homosexuality; (though His views were always there in the Bible and In the ‘lived experience’ of Tradition if I had not come at them both skewed to provide a different answer;- so I went to my friends, and told them that while still being deeply fond of them, I was going to take a different view of the practice of homosexuality. I would simply place it in the same category as other people (straight) and treat it simply as the practice of sex outside marriage.
So when I read Andrew Brown recently, being vituperative about Evangelicals at Gafcon practising ‘homophobia’ and threatening a split in the Anglican Communion no one cares about, I have several reactions.
Accepting that the Christian tradition sets out to moderate the practice of sex between two people who are not married is not of course ‘homophobia’.
And of all the things I may be prone to be ‘phobic’ about, homosexuals never figure.
But why the attempted insult by Brown and the Guardianistas at all?
Is it the usual reason that exchanging arguments dignifies their opponents too much and runs the risk of acknowledging that they might have an argument that stretches beyond the imputed blind prejudice?
Whatever the reason, insult and abuse never dignify a position. Perhaps Brown and people of his ideological orientation are themselves irrationally phobic? Chrisitianophobic? Sanctifiphobic? Who knows. But the abuse and irrationality suggest something like that.
I grew suspicious of the gay cultural argument when Gore Vidal wrote near the end of his life about how deeply he regretted inventing the term ‘gay’. The project had intended to defend his homosexual friends and himself from prejudice – but had also created a sub-category of humanity who were different. The trouble was he thought, that there were just human beings, – one sort of people, who expressed themselves sexually in a variety of ways – some of which changed and altered over a lifetime. There was no such thing as ‘gay ‘ people. Just people.
And homosexual men are not the symmetrical opposite of homosexual women. And then there are the bisexuals – the omnivores – and then there are the people who start off one way and become something something else – who change – because sexuality can be fluid. And then there are the transexuals – very different again. There is no such thing as ‘gay’ – it’s both much more simple than that – just people – and more complex – fluidity of attraction and appetite.
But Christianity, or Christ, comes to the human appetite, whatever it is , sex, money, booze, pride, revenge, and offers to tame it; to tame and transform it. Sex is not a different special appetite, exempt from the touch or call of God, it’s just one that society has become most fixated about, and screams abuse at any attempt to tame it.
So yes, Christians – at least those who have not been infected by the spirit of the age- continue to say that sexual appetite is not exempt from God’s call and touch, and that sex outside heterosexual marriage is unacceptable to God – who is holy – and calls us to be either holy too – or else to succumb to the flood of dehumanising appetites that the Tradition has always called sin.