Way back in the summer, when Jeffery John was all over the news, there was a lengthy debate on the d-fans mailing list about the rights and wrongs of allowing openly gay men to become bishops. Because of a whole bundle of circumstances (Glastonbury, moving house, starting a new job) I never found the time to participate in the discussion and, indeed, fell rather behind with all my correspondence.
In mid-August I went on holiday for the best part of two weeks. Ignoring for the moment the sense of utter panic I felt when I discovered my mobile phone wasn’t working, I made a determined effort to cut myself off from my usual world. Whilst there, however, I did take the time to write a fairly lengthy piece outlining my thoughts on human sexuality. I had intended to post the complete document both here and on the mailing list, but I never quite managed to work up the courage. Though I stayed well away from the actual issue of the morality of homosexuality, I did feel that, in certain things I said, I was rather putting myself on the line. After moving it from computer to computer and never actually doing anything with it, I finally deleted the last copy a few weeks ago. You can probably tell from the fact I’m writing this now that I wish I hadn’t.
The basic premise of what I wrote came from Matthew 5—Jesus talk on adultery during the Sermon on the Mount. I argued that there are actually three major human sexual orientations, not two as usually assumed. For the purposes of my argument I ignored bi, and the various
Ts, citing instead heterosexuality, homosexuality and celibacy. Following on from much discussion on the d-fans list as to whether it was
OK to be homosexual if one
wasn’t practicing I argued that sexuality is characterised only by practice; it is our definition of
practice that is at fault. Matthew 5:27 tells us that
anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. For a man to look at a woman lustfully would be sexual practice, characterising heterosexuality. For a woman to look at another woman lustfully would also be sexual practice, characterising homosexuality. Both would be equally wrong.
It would be impossible to be a
non practising homosexual, just as it would be impossible to be a
non practicing heterosexual. The only sexual orientation characterised by inaction is celibacy.
I went on to argue that humans are not born either heterosexual or homosexual, as is often supposed. We are born celibate; anything else is only temptation. And we have no place giving in to that, only submission to the Lord’s will at a time of his choosing.
So, basically, until we entirely rethink both the teaching of the church and the whole of our modern culture we have no place condemning anyone. At the time I wrote this I resolutely believed that to
fancy girls was wrong, and that holy relationships could only grow from a mutual love for God. I still do.
Though I sometimes wish I didn’t.