Russell and Duenes

Same-Sex Intimacy and Contraception

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I have for awhile now tried to help my students – and anyone else who will listen – see what I believe happens when sexual intercourse is decoupled from its procreative purpose. One thing that happens is that the case for the moral legitimacy of homosexual intimacy (and homosexual “marriage”) is strengthened. I’m confirmed in my view once again by something that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has written. In a little essay entitled, The Body’s Grace, he says, 

If we are looking for a sexual ethic that can be seriously informed by our Bible, there is a good deal to steer us away from assuming that reproductive sex is a norm, however important and theologically significant it may be. When looking for a language that will be resourceful enough to speak of the complex and costly faithfulness between God and God’s people, what several of the biblical writers turn to is sexuality understood very much in terms of the process of “entering the body’s grace”. If we are afraid of facing the reality of same-sex love because it compels us to think through the processes of bodily desire and delight in their own right, perhaps we ought to be more cautious about appealing to Scripture as legitimating only procreative heterosexuality.

In fact, of course, in a church which accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts, or on a problematic and non-scriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentiation without regard to psychological structures. I suspect that a fuller exploration of the sexual metaphors of the Bible will have more to teach us about a theology and ethics of sexual desire than will the flat citation of isolated texts; and I hope other theologians will find this worth following up more fully than I can do here. [Emphasis mine]

One thing Williams sees clearly is that once contraception is accepted wholesale, then the place of children in God’s ordering of marital sexual intimacy is marginalized and considered to be an afterthought. Williams has many other things to say in this essay, but suffice it to say that when I read it, it came clearer to me why the Anglican Church, particularly in America and Europe, is close to dead.


Written by Michael Duenes

July 10, 2010 at 9:54 pm

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