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This page last updated 22 October 2017
Anglicans Online last updated 14 October 2018

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters. We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to Canadian orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

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Letters from the week of 16 October - 21 October 2017

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A Call for a Compassionate Response

The recent torrent of articles and comments around inappropriate sexual misconduct in in Hollywood, government/businesses and other places begs a Christian response to human sexuality and abusive relationships. Articles that express disappointment with how the Church of England has responded to sexual abuse allegations and the churches struggle with residential schools shows that our current theology and teachings on sexuality may be insufficient to support those who find themselves in power imbalances wherein they are exploited.

Every person entering adolescence can attest to the power of raging hormones and integrating our own sexuality identity. I look back in regret at some of my teenage relationships that were more about raging hormones than true intimacy. Often such sexual immaturity carries over into adult relationships with a sense of entitlement and self-gratification - all too often escalating into a fully abusive pathology such as been attributed to the behaviors of Harvey Weinstein.

Who are we as sexual beings? What is the nature of true intimacy? Scripture is not silent on human sexuality providing us glimpses of humanity in its tenderness and in all of is brutality and power imbalances. Scripture also does not preclude other disciplines from informing us in our understanding of human sexuality. People have faced discrimination, exploitation and humiliation based on gender and sexual orientation. How do we draft theological and pastoral responses that incorporates not only a divine calling for humanity but also integrate sociological, psychological and biological understandings of who we are as sexual beings?

Do we merely respond to our understanding of human sexuality by appealing blindly to tradition, as the Church in Australia has done by donating 1 million dollars to the "no" cause on the debate re same-sex marriage overtly restating that blessed sexual relations should happen only in male female partnerships under the sacrament of marriage or do we look at sexuality as not being about genitalia but rather our being, personhood and boundaries. Who am I as a sexual being and what does this mean in relationship to myself and others? How will the Church support who we are as sexual beings? These and other questions are important as we ponder a compassionate response to those who have been exploited and misused as sexual beings.

Donald Shields
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
20 October 2017

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Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All published letters are in our archives.

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