Changing Attitude and One Night Stands
Over on the Changing Attitude blog, Colin has (quite rightly) criticised Lisa Nolland of Anglican Mainstream for getting slightly confused in her writing about bisexuality:
Lisa introduces another favourite point of attack â€“ bisexuals. Bisexuals, she writes, either sequentially or simultaneously have partners of both sexes: two is fine but three is better. I donâ€™t know any bisexuals who construct their lives in this way, but itâ€™s a favourite point of attack for conservatives.
This is what Lisa originally wrote, and I think we can all see where Colin is coming from:
Moreover, what is the response to active bisexuals? Bisexuals either sequentially or simultaneouslyÂ have partners of both sexes:Â two is fine but three isÂ better.Â Will Simon feel able to validate committed loving trios?Â How would he reply to, say,Â US bisexual â€˜poster girlâ€™ Jenny Block, whose book, Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, has made significant headway?Â Jenny loves her husband, Christopher, and she loves her girlfriend, Jemma, and she has a sexual relationship with both. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/jul/06/women.features3
I think Lisa is getting a little confused between sexual orientations and sexual activity. One does not necessarily necesitate the other.
That said, Colin goes and shoots himself in the foot again by trying to defend the document on Sexual Ethics which Changing Attitude produced a few years ago. He writes:
Lisa has again been reading the report on Sexual Ethics published by CA for the Clergy Consultation. She says the report challenges the whole concept of sexual exclusivity and affirms that â€˜brief and loving sexual engagementâ€™ with other people can be â€˜occasions of graceâ€™.
Lisa has, I suspect, read the whole report. Therefore she knows perfectly well that is doesnâ€™t challenge â€˜the whole concept of sexual exclusivityâ€™.
The report says â€œthe ideal outcome may be for mature adults to live in covenantal relationships that are stable, sexually exclusive/monogamous and permanentâ€ â€“ â€˜mayâ€™, because it is clear that in every society and culture, heterosexuals find it hard to maintain this ideal.
Here’s the controversial paragraphs (page 10 and 11) in full:
There is often an implicit assumption in using the words â€˜faithfulnessâ€™ and â€˜commitmentâ€™ in this discussion that we are always talking about sexual relationships persisting over a long period of time. And of course time provides the vital conditions for development, change and growth. To be committed is to take things seriously. It is to say â€˜Tomorrow I will be here as well as today, which means that we have time. Time for facing up to the reality of each other. I am not going to run away (from you or myself).â€™
However, the biblical theme is primarily about the overwhelming demand to remain faithful to our covenantal relationship with God through the Spirit (which, as the gospels warn, may challenge conventional family obligations) Thus while it is clear to us as LGBTs when we survey the gay scene, and indeed much of contemporary social life, that casual sex can often be addictive and destructive, we think it is important to remain open to the possibility that brief and loving sexual engagement between mature adults in special circumstances can be occasions of grace. Risky, but then as Paul Tillich said â€˜A Christian is safest taking risks!â€™
Now I agree with Colin that reading the rest of the report you cannot come away with anything less then a sense that Changing Attitude are putting forward a “Permanent, Faithful, Stable” model of gay relationships, but these two paragraphs seem to just wipe all that away. Given that the concept is all in one sentence, how can the “brief and loving sexual engagement” not be “casual sex”?
I would love for Colin to present us with an example of a “brief and loving sexual engagement” that constitutes not “casual sex” but rather a “Permanent, Faithful, Stable” monogamous commitment. I’ve asked him as much on his blog. let’s see if we get an answer.