9/24/2008

Revisiting Lambeth 1998, Res. 1.10

It’s time to get clear about this: The now entrenched Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10, “On Human Sexuality” has misguided the Communion, providing an inadequate and abbreviated set of comments on sex and sexuality.  It is time to drop any pretense that this represents the “mind” of the Anglican Communion. 
 
I have thought this for some time but have put off bringing the matter up because the quirky and the weird out there in Anglican blog land will get in a bit of a snit about anything that suggests Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 is anything less than the mind of the Communion and to be honored, say, on the level of the Creeds.
 
But in the past several weeks, with the sudden interest the sexual lives of family members of a Vice Presidential nominee and a rumor that a bishop in the Church of Wales might be chosen who is gay, I found myself returning again to visit the wording of this less than helpful resolution.
 
I have written about the matter of sex and sexuality on this blog before, but it’s time to return to it once again. These are preliminary efforts, but I hope useful as a check against giving too great a place to Lambeth 1.10.

What Lambeth 1.10 had to say about Marriage and Abstinence.
 
The 1998 Lambeth Conference said in Resolution 1.10, 
 
“in view of the teaching of Scripture, (the Lambeth Conference) upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage.” 
 
The Sudanese Bishops at Lambeth  2008, ten years later, issued a statement in which they said, 
 
“We believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman.” 
 
The Sudanese bishops understood Lambeth 1.10 to be about sexual expression and that sexuality is God’s gift and only ‘rightly ordered’ when expressed in marriage.
Over time this phrase in the Lambeth Resolution has come to be a statement about what sort of thing sexuality is and about how Christians ought to view being sexual.  That’s pretty much the way Lambeth is used these days. The Sudanese are not alone. It didn’t start that way.
 
So according to Lambeth 1.10, as later glossed, sexual expression in marriage is OK, sex outside marriage is NOT OK.  Neither the daughter of Sarah Palin nor Dr. Jeffery John gay and celibate have any wiggle room: what the daughter did was wrong and what the good Doctor didn’t do, but what his partnership with another man could include, is wrong. What they are doing is not rightly ordered, at least as far as Lambeth 1.10 is concerned.

The Book of Common Prayer, English, 1662 on Marriage and such matters.
 
Lambeth 1.10 was put together by people who no doubt had the 1662 Prayer Book understanding of such matters in mind.
 
The BCP of the CofE puts its understanding of the relation between marriage, lust and abstinence this way:
 
Marriage is not to be taken “in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites…” and marriage “was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.”
 
So for heterosexuals who are not given to continency, marriage was ordained as a remedy against fornication while at the same time marriage is to be taken seriously as something not there to satisfy carnal lusts and appetites.  There was to be no pleasures outside the marriage bed and no wanton, carnal or lusty behavior on the marriage bed.  So much for romance. 
 
In the exchange of rings, however, the 1662 BCP does admit that bodies are involved: “With my body I thee worship,” but we are not given to understand that this involves pleasure. That word – pleasure - does not appear. “Mutual joy” makes it into the 1979 Prayer Book as a reason for marriage.  With that, pleasure, nicely refined, finally makes it in a Prayer Book the realignment crowd considers deficient. 
 
The Resolution speaks of marriage, but had nothing to say about the sexual activities of anyone else, single, heterosexual or gay, except to say don’t do it and of course concerning pleasure or joy had nothing to say at all.
 
What Lambeth Resolution 1.10 had to say about sexuality:
 
Lambeth 1.10 did say something about sexuality:
 
It commends to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality.
It requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us.
 
It notes the significance of the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26, V.1, V.10, V.23 and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process.
 
The “subsection report on human sexuality” has never been heard from again.  It was the report that was set aside in order to pass Resolution 1.10. 
 
Lambeth 1.10 proposes to monitor work being done on the issues of human sexuality. That has transmogrified into the “Listening process.” It has never been about matters of human sexuality, but only about homosexuality.
 
For persons engaged in any other sort of activity that pretends to be sex, remembering that sex that is God given is only in marriage, they are not even in the conversation. Sexuality is a gift given to men and women as they relate to each other across gender, not to men and women as they might use that gift in any other way.
 
I believe the word “sex” and the phrase “sexual expression” concern a wide range of activities and we are quite wrong to think that Lambeth 1.10’s simplistic response is adequate.
 
Sex and Sexuality may need to be sorted out, but Lambeth 1.10 is no help.
Remembering that Lambeth 1.10 limits its opinion only to say that the Conference “upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage,” I want for a moment to distinguish three ways in which we might think of sex, and therefore of sexual expression. Only one of these finds mention in Lambeth 1.10. All three, and I am sure others, need to be considered in any “mind” of the Communion.
 
Sex of the First Sort (SFS)
 
The implications of Lambeth 1.10 is very much what the Sudanese bishops said, “human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman.”   This becomes in a sense the wider Lambeth declaration.
 
If by sex we mean copulation - the physical putting of a body part of the party of the first part in to the body oraface of the party of the second part, one male and the other female and those body parts being the genital identity cards for their being classified as male and female, then sex is only possible between a male and female. Everything else is not sex rightly ordered, but something else. And even if admitted as sex it can only be bad sex.  That seems to be the beginning point for those who wrote Lambeth 1.10.  They were saying no sex outside marriage, and by sex they meant copulation.
 
In Sex of the First Sort (SFS) sex and sexual expression as related to copulation and only right in the confines of marriage.
 
There is of course the question about multiple marriage partners.  If marriage can be viewed as a lifelong union with more than one person, there is no absolute reason to deny multiple partners. Perhaps Lambeth 1.10 got it wrong. Perhaps they meant “marriage exclusively between one man and one woman in a lifelong union…” I know, “a” can mean “only one,” except of course it sometimes doesn’t. 
 
In reality SFS often takes place before and outside marriage and mostly allowed with minimal punishment. SFS with intent to harm or overpower is much more strongly prohibited.  Governor Palin’s daughter has sex outside marriage and many notables in the church and society have past or present SFS and many of these facts on the ground are acknowledged with some pain, but finally put aside.  So Lambeth says SFS, only in marriage.
 
Abstinence is another matter. As the BCP indicates, abstinence is the only morally approved alternative to sex within marriage. But aside from the preaching of abstinence no one gives it must more than lip service. It is a hollow theme.
Sex of the First Sort is too narrow a way to think of sex because in life experience, sex and sexual experience involve a wide variety of activities and attitudes that relate to pleasure and delight for humans mostly involving attention to the body. Copulation is part of that, but not the whole of the matter.  Because it is so narrow, abstinence is give too wide a venue.
 
SFS is profoundly anti-body, even though it is the one way of looking at what morally proper sex that is precisely about the function and use of genitals.  It is anti-body because the whole matter is couched as a remedy for those who cannot practice abstinence. SFS is ignorant of any wider sense of sexual pleasure believing that such matters are the activities of dumb brutes.
 
Jesus widens the understanding of what counts as sex to involve feelings, not the least of which is lust.  Jesus suggests that lusting in our hearts counts as adultery. Adultery was viewed as being in most circumstances about Sex of the First Sort – about man/ woman/ genital sex.  But now then limitation of thinking of sex as SFS was challenged by the possibility that feelings and thoughts were part of the sexual experience.
 
We know from personal experience and otherwise that all sorts of body part contact, eye contact and verbal mutterings  and so on count as sexual engagement even if there is no SFS.  With the introduction of the feeling of lust, the possibilities of, and restrictions on, sexual expression become larger than the physical engagement of body parts involving the genitals of a man and a woman.
 
Sex of the Second Sort  (SSS) and Romantic Love.
 
The limitations on lust may be in the immediate instance linked to adultery, but it extends to fornication and a wider sense of lust of the heart.  And what about other thoughts, lest lustful but still sexual in a wider sense?
 
God takes no pleasure in any man’s legs, but some men and some women do. We lust. We also at the other end of this spectrum of sexual feelings involve ourselves in loving kindness that sometimes grows all the greater as the body over time gives way.  We can sexually respond not only with in lust but in loving kindness.
 
Sex of the Second Sort (SSS) involves the feelings we have for others and the sexual expression given to those feelings. SSS is not about copulation alone and can involve body contact of many sorts and even abstinence from some or all sorts of body contact.  SSS is both about body and person and can be everything from punitive to respectful to worshipful in expression. Here sexual expression crosses over into romantic love. 
 
Now with Sex of the Second Sort the restrictions in Lambeth 1.10 are completely irrelevant.  We can be sure the writers of Lambeth 1.10 were against the adultery of the heart as well and we might suppose that Lambeth 1.10 is against men and women lusting after one another in whatever configuration as well as actually making pelvic connection. 
Lambeth talked first about marriage and abstinence.  Abstinence at least  can be said to be equally available for gay and lesbian people as it is for heterosexual people.  Abstinence can concern lust not acted on by gay and lesbian  as well as heterosexual persons.
 
The great disparity however is that while marriage – which deals with the problem the BCP of the Church of England believes is one of the reasons for marriage – is available for heterosexuals, no such possibilities exist for Gay and Lesbian people.
 
So for heterosexuals the move beyond lust is marriage, where both the evils of lust and of fornication are avoided for those who do not have the gift of abstaining from SFS all together. 
 
But what about gay and lesbian persons?  The trap, even if inadvertent, is set.  Abstinence is OK for Gay and Lesbian persons, Marriage is not. If a person does not have this gift (as the BCP/CofE calls it) too bad. 
 
But of course the writers of Lambeth 1.10 didn’t actually mean that homosexual persons who were abstinent were OK.  Dr. Jeffries John, as rumor has it, was being considered as a possible bishop in Wales and the fact that he claims he is celibate in his relation to his partner makes no difference. Being celibate doesn’t get him off the hook with some because he is, after all, GAY, which means that the lusts of his heart are wrongly directed in some way differently than, say, the lusts in the heart of Archbishop Akinola.   We’ve all got lusts in our hearts but some lust it appears is worse than other.
 
Lambeth 1.10 not only provides no way out for Gay and Lesbian people – they are stuck with abstinence as their only option – but it provides no way for even abstinence to be rightly sighted.  Homosexuals may have strong feelings – everything from lust to loving kindness – for persons of the same sex as themselves, but such feelings are in themselves wrong.  So much for the possibilities of honoring loving kindness shown by one gay person to another.  

What about Sex of Any Sort by men and men, or women and women?  Well, Lambeth 1.10 covers this in a separate sentence and states that  it rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.. (and it) cannot advise the legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.”
 
Lambeth 1.10 believes that SFS is wrong for homosexuals because (i) SFS is for men and women married to one another and homosexuals are by definition not men and women so married, (ii) even if SFS  were possible for homosexuals  it is certainly not marriage and not abstinence (the only two offerings), and (iii) in by the read of the writers of the Resolution, Holy Scripture had nothing good to say about homosexual practice anyway.
But Lambeth 1.10 says nothing about lust, the ever popular motivating force behind lots of sexual doings, or any other feelings, and feelings are a particularly important element in Sex of the Second Sort.  Lambeth 1.10 says nothing about romantic love.
 
SSS is the place where the character of homosexual relationships could become part of an intelligent conversation about the problems of sexual expression. In the range of feelings, lust at one end of the spectrum and loving kindness at the other, we are at least talking about emotions that everyone involved sexually with another can have.  Sex of the Second Sort, SSS, is at least an environment where Lambeth might have had something useful to say, and it didn’t. 
 
What it did say was this, “Many of these (persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation) are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.” 
 
Lambeth 1.10 recognized that persons having “a homosexual orientation” were real people concerned with pastoral care, moral direction, transformation, and the ordering of relationships.  But it turns out it has nothing to say to Gay and Lesbian people because it’s concerns for marriage do not address them at all and the resolution’s other comments address SSS only indirectly vis a vis the BCP / Cof E definition of  marriage. 
 
Lambeth claims the interest in pastoral care, moral direction, etc, but does not in fact say anything to homosexuals except that they should practice abstinence.  The reality is that absence is not enough to cover the matter of romantic love.  The only thing the Resolution can suggest is to be abstinate or to cease being homosexual.
 
Sex of the Third Sort: Sex and Spiritual love.
 
Here we get into an area into which almost no one wants to go and Lambeth 1.10 did not in any way address, save to say that it “requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us.” 
 
The “subject of human sexuality” turns out to be much more than the subject of Sex of the First or Second Sort.  Human sexuality in some ways is mistakenly understood to be about sex of the first sort, about the pelvic affiliation of persons of the opposite sex, practiced in the light of sex of the second sort, that is involving the feelings that accompany the same. 
 
Sexuality is primarily seen in Lambeth eyes as a reaction to what the BCP / CofE called the actions of “brute beasts that have no understanding.”  The Church and marriage are there as inoculations against the brute animal nature of our lusts.
 
But it would appear that sex is about all sorts of engagements with the world where pleasure derived from body parts being physically brought into contact – a hand held, lips touching forehead, temple, ear, lips, nipples, thigh, foot, genitals, a pulse felt, a breath exhaled, a groan, a laugh, a sigh washing over the other, and the variety of ways in which primary sexual pleasure is experienced.  It would also appear that sex is about the thought of those delighted by such contact, and even more generalized, about the engagement with the feelings about such matters understood in some visionary way.
 
The possibilities of sexual engagement being about a physical attraction to and physical engagement with the World (by which I mean other persons, objects, ideas, ideals, etc) is the stuff of poetry, vision, metaphysics, mysticism, occultism, and is generally suspect, not only by religious but also secular authorities. The church and state look dimly on such possibilities. At the very least they are not considered in accord with the ordered life. 
 
Suffice to say that Lambeth 1998, Resolution 1.10 has nothing to say about sexual expression that has become in any way about something other than genital and romantic relations between human beings. 
 
But we should not fault the Resolution for not addressing this.  No one easily addresses the mystic whose craving for the presence of God is like that of someone sex-sick for a lover.  We are not easily able to move into a place where we can talk about ecstasy as being both sexual and spiritual.
 
All we can do is acknowledge that there is Sex of the Third Sort. STS is a reality in the lives of many Christian mystics and poets, and the church would just as soon hide that as something that does not inform or is not pertinent to the matters of SFS or SSS.  But of course it is.
 
The apparent abstinence from sexual engagement by some Christians may not be a matter of abstinence at all, but about the focus of their sexual energies and engagement. For some, the turn from sexual expression from copulation to merging with the other is not about quitting sexual expression at all, but about the completion of sexual engagement in bliss.

Lambeth 1.10 dumbs down the whole discussion of moral behavior in relation to sexual experience and makes it a matter of moral and legal judgments concerning the license to engage in copulation.

I know perfectly well that these remarks are limited in value and are themselves not as well formed as they might be. But the point is, at least to me, clear.
 
Lambeth 1.10 speaks to only a small part of what constitutes sexual expression but has become viewed by its supporters as “the mind of the Communion.”
If this is the mind of the Communion it is a narrow mind, unworthy of the best in spiritual or moral enquiry, unhelpful to the pastoral needs of real people, and unfaithful to a community of faith that believes in incarnation.  
 
Love made real is about body, mind and spirit, and if the couple married is to be compared to the union that is between Christ and the Church, both I might add viewed as bodies, then such love involves all the body has to offer. 

It is time to put Lambeth 1.10 behind us. We all deserve better than that.

19 comments:

  1. Feel free not to post this, Mark, but -- why do we keep doing it? Why do we keep trying to explain to them? Why do we keep asking them to trust and love us?

    Sometimes - often - I feel they will never listen to us. They don't want to . . . frankly, don't really regard us as human. They treat us like pets - whatever we say, whack us on the nose and say "No!"

    What is the hope, here, Mark? Can you offer any? Is there any real love in them for us? What do we do?

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  2. Karen Freeman, ordinand (C of E)25/9/08 7:38 AM

    What a wonderful post!

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  3. But aside from the preaching of abstinence no one gives it must more than lip service. It is a hollow theme.

    Mark, there are plenty of young people who are committed to abstinence until marriage as part of their commitment to Jesus Christ. I'm sorry you don't meet them in your circles. I have met plenty of them in mine. They're quite serious about this.

    I don't believe Lambeth intended to create a full Theology of the Body, nor can it within its time constraints and lack of consensus. Do you really think such a theology should be created, perhaps as part of a larger catechism? I have a feeling you wouldn't like the results.

    I agree with you that Dr. Johns should not be prohibited from becoming a bishop. His declared celibacy should be sufficient. I've heard that a number of younger evangelicals in the UK feel the same way, though I cannot say for certain, not being a younger evangelical nor in the UK.

    I don't find your categories particularly helpful. You seem to mix sexual touch with non-sexual touch, and throw in sublimated sexuality via creativity and mystical experience as if it's all one and the one. It really isn't. But I can certainly appreciate the breadth of sexuality even as I can appreciate the inadequacy of a meeting such as Lambeth to address it all, which it never intended to do.

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  4. Does anyone know if the subsection report on human sexuality is available anywhere online? I know I have a copy somewhere in my stacks of seminary papers. I definitely remember giving a very nuanced discussion and admitted that the Communion is NOT of one mind and that people of good faith do have different approaches.

    it used to be on the Lambeth website along with all the other pre-Lambeth reports. Not surprisingly, though, as the fires continued getting stoked, those reports mysteriously disappeared from the website. Surely, the reports don't take up that much server space.

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  5. I have long argued that any assertion that 1.10 expresses the mind of the Anglican Communion was simply untrue. The most that could be asserted is that it repesented the mind at that time of the Bishops gathered at the Lambeth Conference,or perhaps only of those who voted for it. There may be Bishops, and I suspect there are, who agreed with 1.10 in 1998 but no longer do. It is way past time to relegate 1.10 to its proper place in the archives of the Lambeth Conference and to recognize that neither it nor any other statement expresses the mind of the Communion on this matter.

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  6. Has anyone else noticed how the so-called "orthodox" generally ignore that bit about "life-long union"?

    Gee, I wonder why that might be?

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  7. So for heterosexuals who are not given to continency, marriage was ordained as a remedy...

    I think you're wrong there - I'm pretty sure that these people would prescribe marriage to gay people (marriage to members of the opposite sex, of course). That's certainly been used as a "cure" in the past.

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  8. Great post, Mark.

    No one easily addresses the mystic whose craving for the presence of God is like that of someone sex-sick for a lover

    I'll say! Just in the past couple of months, I read this:

    [Voice, male]

    "On a dark night, kindled in love with yearnings---oh, happy chance!---
    I went forth without being observed, My house
    being now at rest.

    In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder, disguised---oh, happy chance!---
    In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest.

    In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me,
    Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide, save
    that which burned in my heart.

    This light guided me More securely than the light of noonday
    To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me---
    A place where none appeared.

    Oh, night that guided me, Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
    Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover, Lover transformed in the Beloved!

    Upon my flowery breast, Kept wholly for himself alone,
    There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him, And
    the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

    The breeze blew from the turret As I parted his locks;
    With his gentle hand he wounded my neck{*} And
    caused all my senses to be suspended.

    I remained, lost in oblivion; My face I reclined on the Beloved.
    All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies."


    Whew!!! (fans self)

    What seems to be "One Special Night under the bushes at Golden Gate Park" ;-/ is, in fact...

    ...the opening of Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross!

    {*} The perennial erotic subject of vampiricism, nez pas? ;-)..

    Back to your post, Mark:

    all sorts of engagements with the world where pleasure derived from body parts being physically brought into contact – a hand held, lips touching forehead, temple, ear, lips, nipples, thigh, foot, genitals, a pulse felt, a breath exhaled, a groan, a laugh, a sigh washing over the other

    This is really of the ESSENCE, IMO, in our way to resolve "The Issue": where, EXACTLY, is "the sin" here? If it's Okay to love a Certain Someone, and it's Okay to share a laugh, a backrub, a groan (of shared effort, or shared pain), then WHERE EXACTLY does "the sin" (that dare not speak its name) emerge? Only if there's discernible, mutual, PLEASURE? If nerves tingle? If certain, um, tissue-capable-of-filling-w-blood, does so fill?

    The whole notion of "S*E*X" is an unacceptable flattening of the Imago Dei, in our incarnate bodies, into a one-size-fits-all "concupiscence". BS! God don't make no junk, and our bodies are made to glorify God in EVERY way, not scrunched into an Either/Or, "Doin' It" vs. "Not Doin' It". :-X

    Have much more to say (e.g ReButting a previous post), but the hour is late, and I am, well, spent... ;-)

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  9. Mark

    The right-wing has a big emotional and political investment in defining "gay" as sex, that is, as anal intercourse. That's how they can believe (or pretend) that any mention of gay families in elementary school is telling third graders about fucking. A few years ago New York City public schools wanted to introduce a Rainbow Curriculum to deal with the diversity of families in the system. The fundies turned out in droves to the hearings, and when gay speakers tried to talk about love and relationships, the fundies just screamed (literally) "SEX! SEX! SEX!" The curriculum change had to be dropped at that point.

    People who read the scriptures in light of current knowledge assume that the seven passages quoted against homosexuality simply do not apply -- they don't have anything to do with gay life and relationships as we know them. The literalists take another tack -- they twist their view of homosexuality so that the passages DO apply.

    So lots of luck with trying to distinguish romantic love and sensual orientation from copulation. Your opponents' view of scripture as authoritative depends on not seeing it.

    Murdoch, spouse of Gary

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  10. The 7th commandment (no adultery) is the most over-legislated of all the Ten Commandments.
    Commandments 6, 8, and 9 prohibiting theft, murder, and false witness remain the most under-enforced (perhaps because of ecclesiastical complicity in breaking those three for so many centuries).

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  11. I suggest, jcf, that you read a bit more of John of the Cross, if you really think he would approve of extramarital sexual relationships, or if you really think this poem was about a homosexual tryst. (Perhaps you should read again his own explanation of the poem, which is quite different than what you seem to imagine.) I'm afraid the good John does not regard physical pleasure with the same regard that Mark does. The Ascent of Mount Carmel is an utterly different sort of Christianity than what enlightened modern Christians practice, even when its hyperbole is taken into account. Even reasserters would be most uncomfortable with the kind of asceticism found there. He held chastity with greater regard than the strictest modern reasserter. Indeed, chastity was an essential part of who he was, and this discipline fed the depth of his soul. I think it can be said that chastity made The Dark Night of the Soul possible. (BTW, chastity is a discipline, not a gift.)

    Chastity was an essential part of many of these other mystics that Mark mentioned as well. Perhaps you should hear them as they have understood themselves rather than psychologize them and modernize them into an image that you are more comfortable with. They do not support your modern Western views of sexuality.

    Now this is a painful subject, and I really don't want to offend, but: I like romantic love as much as anyone, yet I have to recognize that much of what we call romantic love is actually neurosis. It has tremendous power, and as C.S. Lewis noted, can easily be confused with the love of God. However, romantic love is not agapeic love, and should not be used to justify every action it motivates. It actually can be a tremendously destructive force, as well as a good one, especially as it matures. Please learn to distinguish more carefully between love and "love".

    Nor does romantic love by necessity have to lead to sex, and it probably isn't a good idea to jump into the sack with everyone you develop a romantic interest in.

    Also, Mark, the idea that sex was reserved for marriage did not start with Lambeth 1.10. You're not going to overturn 20 centuries of Christian teaching by asking how far two teenagers may go in the back-seat of a car, or other methods of obfuscation.

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  12. I don't believe Lambeth intended to create a full Theology of the Body, nor can it within its time constraints and lack of consensus. Do you really think such a theology should be created, perhaps as part of a larger catechism? I have a feeling you wouldn't like the results.

    I have a feeling you intend that Mark's (and my) perspective be EXCLUDED, RB, (every bit as much as +Gene Robinson was) from your so-called "consensus". If so, you're right: I won't like...

    ...nor would I feel in any way "catechized" (much less ruled) by it.

    I don't find your categories particularly helpful. You seem to mix sexual touch with non-sexual touch, and throw in sublimated sexuality via creativity and mystical experience as if it's all one and the one. It really isn't.

    Really? Then answer my question above: where does it become "sin"?

    To divide "sexual touch" from "non-sexual touch", independent from the context of relationship, is a DUALISM, unacceptable in a faith centered on an Incarnate Lord!

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  13. For the theology of the body you would find more enlightenment in Shakespeare then in the church at Lambeth.

    As you can find, less sublimely, more understanding of the theology of the family from the California Supreme Court then from the Catholic(roman)Conference of Bishops in the court's striking down the prohibition against same sex marriage.

    Why is it that we think that our evolution is so settled when we are always at the point of departure. Physically, culturally, spiritually we are alive only as we grow into new being and new understandings- which for Christians is towards the Incarnation.

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  14. Christopher (P.)27/9/08 10:36 AM

    rb said: (BTW, chastity is a discipline, not a gift.)

    Well, Jesus said (Matthew 19:11-12), ‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given . . . Let anyone accept this who can.’

    Sounds to me like a gift!

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  15. BTW, chastity is a discipline, not a gift.

    As I understand it, perpetual chastity, understood as never having sex, and celibacy, understood as never entering into a marriage contract, are indeed gifts according to the Catholic Tradition. No one is expected to forego marriage and its benefits/pleasures who is not called to a life of celibacy.

    On the other hand, all Christians are supposed to be chaste, as it applies to them in their given state of life. This applies to married people as well as to the unmarried; unmarried people live a life of chastity by reserving sexual expression for their spouse.

    The present argument isn't really "Are we supposed to be chaste?" but "How are we to exercise the chastity demanded of us?" Who is allowed to enter into the state of matrimony?

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  16. Lambeth Res. 1.10 was a sin of willfull ignorance that illustrates that the sex-negative overtones of "chastity" and the enveloping often toxic theologies that have arisen from the concupiscence of sex continue to plague us.

    Is sex good? is it bad? or as Buddy Hackmen said " even when it's bad it's good" ?

    To respond to someone who says that the eroticism cannot rise to the greatest expression of spirituality is like trying to explain an orgasm to someone who's never experienced it or at the very least, has never read John Donne.

    "Busy olde fool , Unruly Sun- why dost thou through windows and through curtians call on us, must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?... thine age asks ease and since thy duties be to warm the world that's done in warming us. Shine unto us o sun and thou art everywhere. This bed thy center is; these walls, thy sphere."

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  17. Nor does romantic love by necessity have to lead to sex, and it probably isn't a good idea to jump into the sack with everyone you develop a romantic interest in.

    Thanks for clarifying that for us, RB. Like your counsel that I read beyond the first 3 pages of a book, I don't think we dim-witted Episcopalians could have figured this out without you.

    {snark/Off}

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  18. ...John Donne.

    Holy Sonnet XIV

    Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
    As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
    That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
    Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
    I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
    Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
    Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
    But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
    Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
    But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
    Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
    Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
    Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
    Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

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  19. The anthropormorphic blasphemy of Holy Sonnet XIV is indeed turned round in the final couplet of the ravished human heart left in chastity.
    An intimate encounter with the divine is forceably akin to a rape but which paradoxically preserves rather than destroys chastity. Is not the Virgin conception such a ravishment?

    Similiarly in the human encounter, without benefit of marriage and in apparent contravention of chastity as defined as the exclusivity of sexual expression outside marriage, countless unmarried have "with my body I thee worship" and as pardoxical as Donne's couplet impart which is by definition denied.

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
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