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.
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
20 October 2017
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