An uneasy conversation with Michael Kirby

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The homosexuality debate in church and society is an uneasy and often destructive conversation not entered into lightly. I write in response to the Introduction to and launch address  for Five Uneasy Pieces(FUP) by the distinguished Michael Kirby earlier this month at Eureka Street TV

On one occasion I enjoyed Judge Kirby’s engaging conversation at dinner at New College at the University of NSW. However this is a more difficult conversation where unfortunately he speaks with a more polemical tone.

I also write as co-editor of Sexegesis: An Evangelical Response to Five Uneasy Pieces on Homosexuality. This is a collection of writings by Australasian Anglican scholars in response to FUP’s invitation to conversation about Scripture and sexuality. 

Sexegesis is literally exegesis or reading out from texts on (homo)sex. We argue that the Five Uneasy Pieces (FUP) advocating a revisionist reading of the Bible on homosexuality, do not – apart from Meg Warner and Alan Cadwallader’s pieces – really do exegesis. 

Instead they generally jump quickly to wider hermeneutical or interpretive issues that relativise the relationship of Scripture and tradition to other authorities. These include science or (selective) experience (of practising gays, not celibate gays), or contemporary ethical and cultural standards like inclusivity, not the historical and global catholicity of the church across time and space. 

We don’t ignore these authorities, but first emphasise the text on sex, in context. As sociologist Peter Berger once said: ‘Whereas Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, today we betray him with a hermeneutic’. 

Both sides thus need to beware: ‘Conservatives’ if they slip from opposing homosexual acts to opposing homosexual people, lacking grace; The ‘liberals’ for frankly writing, as Michael Kirby admits, ‘very easy pieces’. Well before Malcolm Fraser, Jesus said (Christian) ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’. Kirby, and the FUP authors, in Bonhoeffer’s terms, are cheapening grace.

Here the rhetoric of the homosexuality debate seriously clouds the issue and raises the temperature. Gay activist and academic Denis Altman notes that making homosexuality into an identity, not an activity issue, was a stroke of political genius. It meant that anyone who opposes homosexual practice appears to be opposing homosexual people or homophobic or hateful, as Kirby’s rhetoric, GetUp’s, Sunrise’s and the Greens’ claim, making reasoned debate impossible. 

Only in a society practising sexual idolatry as the basis of identity could such confusion arise. As the gay sexologist Foucault said: ‘Sexuality has replaced the soul’. The over-heated rhetoric of denying people their humanity because of inability to fully express their sexuality insults millions of celibates.

Kirby also claims that the Church teaches divine dislike or even hatred of those whom ‘God made gay’. Apart from the bigoted and bizarre Westboro Baptist, I know of no mainline church holding this gospel of hatred (though many gays have been sadly hurt by Christians). 

Judge Kirby pre-emptively pronounces the verdict on the gay gene issue, when the jury is still out, and claims it makes God to blame, in a kind of hyper-Calvinist genetic predestination to torment. Yet thinkers from a range of disciplines, gender and political persuasions such as UK gay activist Peter Tatchell, sociologist Frank Furedi, geneticist Francis Collins, and bisexual Camille Paglia agree that ‘Predisposition and determination are two different things’ as bisexuality and people switching sexuality in mid-life show. John D’Emilio, US gay activist and academic, says on ‘the convenient truth’ of the ‘born gay’ theory of Kirby and others that the scientific evidence for it ‘is thin as a reed’. That doesn’t mean that homosexual orientation is simply chosen, though.

Kirby claims that the source of the churches’ ‘terrible pickle over human sexuality’ is ‘the age old problem of the text. And the human disinclination in the face of new knowledge, to adjust to the necessities of new thinking’. This almost automatic rejection of the old or traditional contradicts Kirby’s support of the monarchy, or Anglican liturgy, or much law. It denies what Chesterton calls ‘the democracy of the dead’. The vast and panoramic past has a right to vote, against the dictatorial parochialism and diminished perspective of the present.

Kirby and FUP use contemporary context to manipulate ancient text like a nose of wax in Madam Tussaud’s. Just because a revisionist interpretation like FUP’s is available doesn’t mean it’s convincing. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s outdated or we wouldn’t still use wheels. Kirby and co. confuse time and truth categories. 

They also cite the common furphy about Jesus never speaking against homosexuality. In a Jewish context he didn’t have to, but upheld God’s positive purpose in Genesis of one man one wife for life, or celibacy (Mt 19:1-12). Paul (Rom. 1: 20ff) in a Gentile context of common homosexual practice of all sorts, including long-term committed relationships, upholds  Jesus’ and Genesis’ view of our sexual ecology, equality and complementarity. 

Law, Gospel and Epistle agree. It is not a case of five uneasy, separate pieces or texts, but a strong bridge spanning beginning to end of Scripture. We agree with Kirby that this overall context of Scripture is one offering love, forgiveness, and reconciliation bridging all, gay and straight.


Gordon PreeceRev’d Dr Gordon Preece is Director of Ethos: Evangelical Alliance Centre for Christianity and Society. This article is based on Gordon's introduction to Sexegesis. A longer version is here.

Topic tags: Gordon Preece, Michael Kirby, Sexegesis, homosexuality, gay marriage, homophobia, Westboro Baptist

 

 

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Rev Gordon has done all Australian Chriatian Churches a service in being able to put into Aussie speak what Pope Benedict XVI has been speaking about for quite a few years with particular refernece to the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Benedict has been alerting Catholics to the dangers of a "hermenutic of dis-continuity" and Rev Gordon has illustrated so well an example of it in this drawing out of the real issues behind the confusion some in Australian Christian Churches have with the issues surrounding same-sex attraction. Some Christians are certainly hostage to the false thinking of sexual identity as opposed to sexualy activity. Well done.
Fr Mick Mac Andrew West Wyalong NSW | 25 June 2012


I didn't feel that Michael Kirby was speaking in a 'polemical' tone in the video. Far from it. He spoke calmly and rationally about his sexuality, and his view of what faith means. In Rev Dr Preece's article the sentence "Gay activist and academic Denis Altman notes that making homosexuality into an identity, not an activity issue, was a stroke of political genius." For people, like Michael Kirby, who have experienced anguish and confusion from an early age about their 'unnatural'sexual orientation, this indeed is an identity issue. Not a choice for them. And I share Kirby's questioning of just why a percentage (5-6 per cent) of the population would be put in this position. Choice is one thing - identity another. Celibacy is a choice - homosexuality should never be assumed to be a choice. I do agree with Rev Dr Preece that "many gays have been sadly hurt by Christians".
Pam | 25 June 2012


"‘Predisposition and determination are two different things’" "That doesn’t mean that homosexual orientation is simply chosen, though." There is a new developing science, called Epigenetics, which investigates the mechanisms by which genes can be "activated" or "de-activated" by thought processes, showing that genes and DNA are not the determining factors they were once thought to be, no matter how convenient such ideas may be to some. Dr Bruce Lipton, in "The Biology of Belief" suggests that the success of 'placebos' in curing many physical ailments is evidence of the power of belief over many bodily functions. The undersandings emerging from Epigenetics is, of course, only one element in the very complex question of human behaviour and beliefs.
Robert Liddy | 25 June 2012


That.s all Gordon.s evangelical cum calvinist reading and not the Biblical and social reading of the rest of Anglicans, nor of our society .
Patricia Bouma | 25 June 2012


For the record, Gordon’s book is written by Anglicans and the book he is criticising is also written by Anglicans. It is not written by Michael Kirby or, as he keeps repeating in a curious fashion, FUP. I say this to clarify for the newcomer that Gordon is arguing from one kind of Anglican position (conservative evangelical) while Five Uneasy Pieces is coming from an Anglican position that might best be described as liberal catholic. Both of these positions are grounded in particular claims for Tradition in the church, but the emphases differ, including the very significant matter of how we read Scripture. This may help the reader to appreciate why Gordon is getting het up. It would be naïve though to see all of this as a simple dispute over how we read the Bible. The scholars are lining up in preparation for what is already a much larger dispute within the Anglican Church, one that is only going to get more heated and potentially divisive.
KING JAMES VERSION | 25 June 2012


spot on.
alex | 25 June 2012


The bigotry and violation of human rights that churches and this author perpetrate today is the reducing of homosexual people's humanity to an exegetical analysis of what they are doing with their genitals - placing the whole package into an intrinsically disordered bundle from the beginning. There's no room for the individual to exercise their conscience and this results in either utmost rebellion and libertarian promiscuity or in other cases many serious depressive illnesses and suicide. There's basically no reason for this article to be written - the church has spoken - 'Just don't do it. Just go away and be celibate for the rest of your life.' Why do we resort to such desperate words like "exegesis" of the scriptures for an issue that's staring at us in the face today? Have we lost contact with our spirit-filled consience? Why don't we see the same intellectual Christian musings over the morality of our contributions to war and the economic disparities between developed and developing countries? Let's get our head out of each other's underpants and try to save our sinking planet. I condemn the division of this issue into left/right terminology. Homosexuality is a broad human reality for all sides of the political spectum. The dualistic reduction of our human sexuality into practicing/non-practicing is very unhealthy and unnatural - and it shows that as a society we regard sexuality as a disease rather than a natural positive element of humanity. This is also evident in our need to blame something (genetics/upbringing) for the existence of variations in "normal" sexuality. Sexual expression is a continuum and cannot be defined by whether or not any rude body parts (genitals) make contact, reducing the issue to some childish forensic science debate. To some people dancing might be regarded as sexual expression - and rightly so (which means it can either be favoured or not favoured). But then it depends if you're doing the Pride of Erin or the Lambada. This article should have been accompanied by a video grab from from Shaun McCallef's skit on Mad As Hell which aired on Friday night - It sums it all up.
AURELIUS | 25 June 2012


Some of my best friends are homosexuals. Some of my best friends are catholic priests and nuns. For the life of me I don't know whether any of the latter are homosexual. Their commitment to celibacy makes it irrelevant. They have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Cf. Matt:19.12. I appreciate the views expressed by King James Version and Aurelius in this conversation on the subject of homosexuality et al. In comments limited to 200 words none of us is able to express a comprehensive and exhaustive review of the multitude of studies that have been made in the last one hundred years (just to set a limit!) on human sexual development. Let me risk this generalisation. In a positive caring relationship sexual development can serve not only the continuation of the species but also that the physical encounters associated with this development, whether between persons of the opposite sex or of the same sex, can sustain, support and heal each individual in his or her life journey. Cf. Dominian, Jack. Proposals for a New Sexual Ethic, London
Uncle Pat | 25 June 2012


In asking to consider the text in relation to new knowledge and new thinking, Michael Kirby is not rejecting the old or the traditional. Indeed, everyone involved in this debate is engaged in the very old and very Anglican tradition of open discussion of the issues, in light of biblical teaching. It is fallacious and a non sequitur for Gordon to say that Michael is being contradictory on this because he supports the monarchy, or Anglican liturgy, or much law. Michael is doing what other Anglicans have done in the past, courageously confronting an issue of the day on grounds of faith and tradition and his own conscience. Gordon is also in no man’s land once he appeals to Chesterton’s ‘democracy of the dead’. It is very difficult to take a poll of such a constituency. Presumably Gordon wants to think, like politicians, that he has the numbers, but does he? The vast and panoramic past may have a right to vote, but what if they vote against Gordon? I sometimes think of St Augustine and whether he would have been a Protestant. Martin Luther would have believed Augustine was on his side. Speaking in Christian language for a moment, we believe in the communion of the saints, not in the unprovable vagaries of a democracy of the dead. And it is the communion of saints that hold the answer. We are asked to pray with them and to them, not vote for or against them.
KING JAMES VERSION | 25 June 2012


In the recently published Quebec "Registry of Homophobic Acts", a "homophobic act" includes "any negative word or act toward a homosexual or homosexuality in general". The response of "Aurelius" to the above, reasoned piece from Dr Preece - that it perpetrates bigotry and the violation of human rights - alerts us to the developing real-world context of this whole debate. The fact is that if Dr Preece were publishing this article in a regime extolled by gay activists as "advanced" - such as Canada, he would be in court facing charges of homophobia. Indeed, I myself might be facing court on the same grounds for making my comments here. Nay, even "Eureka Street" might be in trouble for hosting the piece from Dr Preece - and post defending his position - on its blog. This is the future of gay activist-defined "tolerance", folks. Expose this agenda for the brutal chicanery it is, or get used to it.
HH | 25 June 2012


Mr Kirby insists, falsely, that homosexuals are “born this way”. The American Psychiatric Association said we cannot draw that conclusion: “There are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality”. Even the avowedly pro-gay American Psychological Association cannot reach a “born this way” conclusion: Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors." The director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, notes that “sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations." There is no justification, then, for claiming that homosexuality is biologically determined; there is no simplistic gay gene or gay brain. All one can conclude is that the phenomenon is multi-factorial in origin, with predisposing and precipitating factors; a deeply ingrained but potentially modifiable psychological condition, not an innate identity. So why does Mr Kirby limit the adaptive options of a young Christian man afflicted by unwanted same-sex erotic impulses by telling him he was “born this way”?
David van Gend | 25 June 2012


Jesus et al 2000 yrs ago did not have access to the scientific advance - not least in human medical science we have today. He also lived in a completely different culture than our Western society. There are also other teachings of Jesus on which to base our attitudes of respecting minorities equally with the majority -esp. in this matter of some persons who have different sexual attraction which they are born with. It might sound noble to quote the OT, Jesus and Paul but that is not the end in our Christian reflection and our mission to assist the Church and society to be compassionate and salvic. Scripture doesn't have priority over tradition and reasoning/science but equality. His curious selection of various 'scientific' and theological authorities and put-down of others is unworthy of academic -let alone Christian- scholarship. His selection appears jumbled and It looks like he is joining those Christians who are getting desperately hysterical that gays one day may be granted state marriage equivalency. At the moment there are some Christians and Churches saying it's OK to be different sexually but Christian-wise you must be celibate. This is sado-masochistic. I think Gordon's article continues a sin in not respecting some in our society who are different to the majority and the 'some' being kept in a secondary place in the human spectrum. Is this the Spirit of Jesus being spread in the world? Is the opinion expressed here spreading wholeness (salvation)? No. The attitudes expressed here are based on many persons in the Church and society being personally uncomfortable when faced by persons sexually different from themselves, saying my discomfort is wrong (don't upset me so), transferring their uncomfortableness on the perceived 'sinner' and trawling through Scripture to find this and that verse to prove they are right -that the other is a really a sinner! I am really surprised Gordon did not respond to the agony Kirby went through to accept his difference in sexuality to the majority and his peace as he lives with his difference. Gordon uncompassionately opines from the high altitude of ancient tomes that he and Christians of the some attitude here quoted are 'right'. Many Christians disagree with Gordon et al. And some young people esp. in rural areas are taking their lives as they decide they are different sexually than most of those around them because they find no place of compassionate and empathetic support esp. in the Churches. Gordon's essay is a sample of this 'unsupport'.
The Revd Tom Green Anglican Priest Moonee Ponds V. | 25 June 2012


At risk of over-simplifying this debate, I pray that the anti-homosexual lobbyists would pour their 'Christian' efforts into ending child abuse, poverty and preventable diseases, instead of this perverse fascination as to what consenting adults should or shouldn't do.
Ellie Kay | 25 June 2012


When i read Gordon Preece I think again, as some one who looks on himself as a christian and catholic (small c) and as heterosexual I think how reflective of conventional mores over history organised christianity has been. Not surprising as it was and is a creation mainly of men and their views reflecting te common views of their time. Benedict is highly intelligent without showing any capacity for thinking outside the norm he grew up in and conventional social attitudes he grew up with. Paul (Saul) and those who wrote sometimes in his name was also a man of his time. One problem that I have with "Eive Easy Pieces" and replies to it is that they reflect a belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God and what it says settles the matter. Well if it is this and one reads it extensively God is very strange, violent, sadistic, kind hearted, extraordinarily loving. Just like human beings you might say. The Bible is an extraordinary set of writings that reflect a remarkable people's attempt to understand G-d, to preserve and reflect on their history and the myths around, in the New Testament to reflect and try to record something of the person of Jesus. As a man he may have had the conventional view of his time on homosexuality, maybe not. He was revolutionary apparently on a number of matters. And when Dennis Altman makes what is, almost sneeringly reported, a clever remark it does not invalidate that homosexuality is an identity. And with the Rev Preece's report of changes he is merely reporting what can happen with humans about many things over time. Also the comment about Genesis calling for one man and one woman should be joined to the acknowledgement that it was not much followed by the early Israelis- see Abram.
Brian Poidevin | 25 June 2012


Some blogs here reveal just how different are Anglican and Roman Catholic approaches to and understanding of Scripture, and this is something that can be traced to the Reformation. Fr Mick from West Wyalong thinks that Gordon has done all Australian Christian Churches a service, without seeming to be aware that arguments over the meaning of Scripture are part of Christian tradition, especially but not only in the Anglican Church. Pope Benedict would (wouldn’t he?) be alerting Catholics to the dangers of a "hermeneutic of discontinuity", as he is head of a Church where interpretation of Scripture is closely guarded and same-sex debates are ignored or pronounced on ex cathedra. This doesn’t leave much leeway for discussion of Scripture, or even discussion. Just leave it to Father, he knows best, after he has been told what to say. One can empathise with Aurelius when he complains that reduction of homosexual people's humanity to an exegetical analysis is unacceptable while injustices continue. Injustice must be met where it is seen. But in order for the church to change there has to be discussion that hasn’t been had before now, and in the Anglican Church that means having the firm support of Scripture. The appeal to Scripture is foundational in Anglican tradition, which is why there has to be a debate. I can only agree that climate change, social inequality, world debt and certain other issues are of much more moment now and in the Gospels than what goes in the privacy of the bedroom. But we know change of attitude on all these things must come from within the church, hence the debate.
KING JAMES VERSION | 25 June 2012


Dr. Preece says conservatives would lack grace if they 'slip from opposing homosexual activity to opposing homosexual people' - but conservative Christians do it all the time, I believe. I have seen little evidence of this grace. Another familiar line from this quarter is 'love the sinner, hate the sin'. Where might gay and lesbian Christians experience the love, even the tolerance, of the many church people who hold this view? If they turn up at certain parishes in Australia, they would not be allowed to take a full part in parish life, or even receive communion, if they dared to confess they were 'practising'. It's the separation of homosexual activity from homosexual practice that is the great lie here - how can they be divided so neatly, and why should gay people make a sacrifice not required of heterosexuals? As the writers in Five Uneasy Pieces say, the verses of Scripture always quoted as prohibiting homosexual practice do not have straightforward meanings, and are far from unambiguous. It seems homosexual identity was unknown in New Testament times, let alone OT times - it is a relatively new development in our culture, one which certain Christians are determined to keep out of the church or churches. However, some churches or parts of churches are fortunately more open-minded - they have grace, and do not believe God would withhold his grace from gay and lesbian Christians, or even non-Christians.
Rodney Wetherell | 25 June 2012


Rodney Wetherell, seems like you follow the motto: "Condemn the Conservative Christian's belief, and condemn them again for acting consistently with their belief." I mean, give those Christians you accuse of not loving homosexuals some credit. If practicing homosexuality is indeed a serious sin, like adultery or fornication, how would Christians be "loving" those practicing homosexuals who turn up to their church by implying the latter are on the path to heaven in their lifestyle, when they're on another path altogether? You're perfectly free to disagree with that version of Christianity. But you're not free to disagree, and then to condemn those Christians yet again for following through with their beliefs, which if they are in any way concerned for their fellow brethren, must surely include desperately trying to warn practicing homosexuals in any way they can of the dire eternal consequences of their lifestyle.
HH | 25 June 2012


What continues to amaze me about articles like these is that people are happy to sit in judgment on me and other same-sex attracted, intersex and transgendered people and speak about us as though you know us, know what is good for us and what is God's will for us. Anything that I or my fellow LGBTI Christians contribute from our experience is summarily dismissed. I agree that 'many gays have been sadly hurt by Christians'. Indeed, many have been driven to suicide by judgmental Christians who claim to know what is right for a minority that they do not understand. Some of you writing here have blood on your hands. In your insensitivity, you are unaware of that fact. The stones that you have been casting have too many times hit their mark.
Malcolm McPherson | 25 June 2012


Just a reminder that same-sex attracted people who find this discussion distressing can access support from organisations such as LifeLine: 13 11 14.
Alan Hough | 25 June 2012


Dear HH, you have nothing to fear from this "gay activist" so your attempt to badge yourself as the victim of some pink conspiracy is in vain.
AURELIUS | 26 June 2012


I don't know any scripture scholar worth his salt who would claim that the Bible's few brief, often sideways mentions of homosexuality could be used to constitute a policy of one kind or another on the topic. And anyone who claims that telling gay men and women they are loved but have to do it tough when it comes to their own freedom to love has a lot of follow up questions to answer. Free floating empathy, a la Rev. Gordon, is not enough. It's also a very easy cover for prejudice.
James | 26 June 2012


You miss my point entirely, Aurelius: it's the idea you (and others) have put above, not you personally, that present a danger to our society in the way I've indicated. The "pink conspiracy" as you call it has hegemony already in parts of the world like Canada, based on that same outrageous idea: viz, that moral disapproval of homosexual acts is itself bigotry and constitutes a violation of human rights. It has already claimed many victims there, in the UK, in Europe, and even here in Australia.
HH | 26 June 2012


With reference to remark indicating support from the American Psychiatric Association for the Preece position it withdrew the implication that homosexuality was a mental disorder in 1973, and there is no doubt that most practitioners look on homosexuality as a normal manifestation of human behaviour, This is more relevant than churchmen reproducing ancient shibboleths.
Brian Poidevin | 26 June 2012


I suspect, HH, that the reason you disapprove of my strong language about human rights violations is because most homosexual people have been thwarted and frustrated in their efforts to the point that they have given up their struggle with church teaching and no longer feel the need to debate the topic so frankly anymore. If you can honestly tell me that if you had a homosexual son or daughter, you would expect them to remain celibate for the rest of their life then maybe we might have a common starting point for discussion.
AURELIUS | 26 June 2012


Am I missing something, or does this article and most of the posts say more about the pharisaical, perhaps even pathological, obsession of some parts of the church with human sexuality than it does about the subject itself?
Ginger Meggs | 26 June 2012


I sincerely believe gay, bisexual and transgender people have a richness and depth of soul and wisdom all can learn from-
Those who know they are just as much loved as the rest of humanity- with all it's faults and frequent churches- church service's and masses, are like pearls in our parish Church communities- They are exquisitely sensitive , humble and welcoming to all - even to those who turn up their noses- Remember the last lines of the Good Samaritan parable- and how we are to love one another- our responsibility towards each other ?..Jesus speaks to each and every one of us when he said the Good Samaritan said to the inn keeper... ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Myra | 26 June 2012


Aurelius, it is not a violation of human rights to express the view that homosexual sexual acts fall into the category of sexual acts which are seriously disordered. Just as it is not a violation of human rights to state that fornication, adultery, rape, incest, and so on all fall in the same category. But it is a gross violation of human rights to fine someone or throw them behind bars for arguing these views and living a life consistent with them. That violation is happening regularly nowadays. The fact that you don't seem at all perturbed by this suggests that perhaps you aren't as concerned about human rights as you profess to be. As for any child, whatever their sexual (or otherwise) inclinations, I hope I would train them to conform to the entire corpus of the perennial teaching of the One True Church, and do my level best to assist them in that regard, so that they might reach heaven.
HH | 26 June 2012


GM: "Am I missing something?"

You sure are, GM, and let me do the honours. What you're missing is the premise in your own argument between "X disagrees with me on a moral point.", and "Therefore X is pharisaical, if not pathologically obsessed." Once you've retrieved that little nugget, we'll all be happier. Go for it.
HH | 26 June 2012


I see Dr Preece quotes Romans 1 approvingly. Does he then agree that gay and lesbian people are "deserving of death"? (v32)

Just asking.
Justin | 26 June 2012


The position of the church and that of the gay community seem to be irreconcilable. With a bit of luck, the warring factions may actually end up devouring one another and leave the rest of us good folk in peace. Academic egos with unbridled ambition - is there anything more ungodly than that!?
David Braybrooke | 26 June 2012


I'm afraid Mr Kirby lost me when as a High Court judge, he commented on a case where a father was tricked into paying thousands of dollars to his former wife for two children that were not his. Mr Kirby stated the law of deceit could be used and that children would be hurt. But how terrible for the man that he didn't make mention of, it would his worst nightmare, not unheard of within the ranks of the clergy I might add.
L Newington | 26 June 2012


But HH, this article, and most of the comments, are about sex, not morality. Tom Green's comments are spot on.
Ginger Meggs | 26 June 2012


To Mr Braybrooke, the church actually includes gay people so your comment doesn't really hold true. It also includes "good folk" like you. As far as leaving you in peace? Is your life really being interrupted?
AURELIUS | 27 June 2012


GM, you have picked up the point exactly I was making in my original post which HH has manipulated and wrongly interpreted. THe violation that is occurring is NOT the moral judgments per se, but that fact that homosexual personhood is reduced to the genital level - and they are not respected by the church with utmost respect for their dignity. I am not talking about human rights violations in the legal sense that HH seems concerned about.
AURELIUS | 27 June 2012


Of course it's about moral judgements concerning homosexual acts, Aurelius. Otherwise, how are you arguing that practicing homosexuals, who reject the moral teaching of the Church, are not being respected by the Church to their utmost dignity? Homosexuals who strive to live a chaste life and confess any sins in the sexual dimension of their lives have all the sacraments and Church life available to them as any other human being. But, forgive me for making the cavalier assumption that all "human rights violations" have a legal dimension. I mean what was I thinking (and what were you thinking, not pulling me up with this rationalization in your first reply)?
HH | 27 June 2012


A very well written piece but bigotry none the less. Well perfumed with fundamentalist theology but still not much more than a homophobic rant. Perhaps Eureka Street feels publishing such stuff shores up its orthodox bonafides...

Michael Elphick | 27 June 2012


Yes Aurelius, my life is being interrupted as I seem to be bombarded with references to the gay marriage debate wherever I go. And I am pressured in emails, social media messages and editorials to 'take a stance'. Harassment at it's worst!

David Braybrooke | 27 June 2012


HH, I'd be reluctant to confess any sins these days. You wouldn't know what the confessor had hidden away in his cupboard.
The All Seeing Eye of God is I would be attrubuting too, maybe it's my non-Catholic upbringing.
Another thing, knowledge is power and it's use; nothing to do with God.
L Newington | 27 June 2012


Don't be too tough on Eureka Street Michael; at least you get the chance to comment here. If this article had been published on a Sydney Anglican website there would have been no opportunity to disagree! Or on most of the other Catholic websites, for that matter. For my money, ES is a breath of fresh air.
Ginnger Meggs | 27 June 2012


Michael Elphick, it is Eureka Street that published Michael Kirby’s interview. Was Michael indulging in bigotry and was it a fundamentalist rant? Michael knows he is part of a public debate that is theological as well as social. It is inevitable that we are going to hear from those who oppose or disagree with Michael’s position, because that is what a debate is. Gordon Preece’s article may be fundamentalist theology and it may be homophobic, that’s for us to judge, but it is not a rant. Gordon is trying to put forward a reasoned argument from his position. Whether anyone agrees with Gordon is a separate matter. I imagine Eureka Street publishes Gordon because it sees it as necessary to give all sides an airing, where they may not otherwise. But as in many debates, in order to have a strong position it is necessary to know the terms and to know your enemy. You can then argue from a position of strength, rather than just complaining that all of this is nothing more than a homophobic fundamentalist rant, or just another well-meaning liberal rant. Choose your rant! The book Sexy Jesus is not my thing at all, but in order to refute its arguments you have to know what they are, first.
KING JAMES VERSION | 28 June 2012


This is a step in the right direction. Kirby’s statements should be critically evaluated more. He spins too much.
Ed | 28 June 2012


GM, I can only applaud your principled stance in support of open debate! Now, to protect the legal freedoms of people elsewhere to have opinions like those of Dr Preece and myself on this issue, what say you take up our cause with the current Quebecois regime? You see, unlike the Sydney Anglican archdiocese, they're not about merely declining to publish contrary views: they're about criminalizing opposing positions! And they're not the only ones. I'm sure you're horrified, and I look forward to yet another heroic manifestation of your principles.
HH | 28 June 2012


It seems we are finally getting to the real point of this issue - that we are all bound my the same moral guidelines on being chaste - but the rules are different depending on your genes/upbringing etc. Let's just lift the burden, unleash the chains and let people exercise their God-given consciences. As far as I'm aware, there are no sin-detectors installed at the entrance of our churches.
AURELIUS | 29 June 2012


Well, thank you HH but I’m hardly a hero or into ‘heroic manifestations’ although I do, as you noted, have a few principles to lighten my way. As to the Quebec regime, you’ll have to enlighten me as my grasp of the French language is very basic. Is the Church there also suppressing open debate?
Ginger Meggs | 29 June 2012


All of this is very good, but, for me, the bottom line is how does one treat an openly gay person standing in font of you? We can all pontificate indefinitely about what Jesus might have thought about homosexuality, and he may well have accepted the traditional Jewish understanding of this . . . or not. As the article by Gordon Preece, and this set of correspondences shows (including the quoted words of Michael Kirby), it is simply not possible for all these writers to be right . . . even though most would claim that they are. So how do we treat homosexuals (ie people who wear that as part of their identity)? One way is to treat them as having some kind of infection, and therefore to be avoided. Traditional homophobia does exactly that . . . specially when the flames are fanned by the preaching and pontificating of biased clergy . . . one thinks of Archbp Pell refusng communion to people wearing a rainbow sash. What was their sin? Was it the identity which could not be approved? Personally, I have concluded that a person's sexuality is between them and their God (as Dave Allen would have said), and it is to God that they will in the end answer. So the Church, and religious people who have this bee in their bonnet should just get out of the way, and mind their own business. Jesus very much emphasised the first 2 commandments, and the requirement to love one's neighbour seems to without exception.
Robert Rennick | 29 June 2012


Well, I wouldn't call a mere refusal to publish an article in a private journal or newspaper or blog an act of "suppression", GM. What does count as an act of suppression for me is when those who express moral disapproval of certain sexual acts according to the traditional Christian corpus of teaching are criminalized for doing so. I don't know whether the few principles you espouse extend to this very real form of persecution. See my first post of 25 June above. (It's in English).

Aurelius, my God-given conscience tells me to abide by and witness to the perennial moral and doctrinal teaching of the Church, with a special concern to those who don't understand or accept it. Thank you for insisting that I be allowed to do that.
HH | 29 June 2012


Robert Rennick, I can assure you, just as any priest would ... in regards to your
statement/question : one thinks of Archbishop Pell refusing communion to people wearing a rainbow sash. What was their sin? Was it the identity which could not be approved?... No, it had Nothing to do with what you call 'identity'.The people involved ( regardless of their sexual orientation ) were refused Holy Communion - because they intended to make a 'political statement', by the wearing of rainbow sashes in a Catholic Church, in the first place.
Myra | 29 June 2012


Dr Preece resurrects the traditional Christian spectre of hermeneutics. Frankly I don't care about the scholarly niceties of conservative Christians. The issues have moved beyond medieval cloisters and call philosophers of the modern world to deal with the issues of that world. Exegesis is a polite profession but it does not foster change. Until conservatives come to realise that God created men and women in many forms they will continue to lock themselves (and others)into debates that have become peripheral and meaningless.
Professor John Collard | 29 June 2012


To Ginger Meggs . . . I agree with you that ES is a breath of fresh air, and that the possibility of opposing views (and views which are not necessarily in accord with people higher up) actually being published is in itself a commendation for all involved. Thank you and congratulations!
Robert Rennick | 29 June 2012


Thank you HH for pointing me towards your first post. Your first point was that ‘In the recently published Quebec "Registry of Homophobic Acts", a "homophobic act" includes "any negative word or act toward a homosexual or homosexuality in general". That sounded pretty official so I went looking on the web for the source documents. Imagine my surprise when I found that the ‘Registry’ is not an official register at all but rather the product of Gai Écoute, an NGO advocating for the LGBT community. As such, the register has no legal status, a far cry from what one might imagine from the words ‘Quebec “Registry of Homophobic Acts”’. The relevant website is www.homophobiaday.org/default.aspx?scheme=4223

Now you also claimed that ‘if Dr Preece were publishing this article in a regime... such as Canada, he would be in court facing charges of homophobia’. That also sounded like a serious matter but, search as I may, I have not been able to find an authority to support this claim. Perhaps you would be good enough to point me in the right direction.
Ginger Meggs | 29 June 2012


I browsed through Sexegesis lately and can report that it has almost no references to science whatsoever. The very title is unwittingly offensive because it reduces homosexuality to a sex act, as do Preece's appalling references to (homo)sex.

In my world, homosexuality is a stable affective disposition. I sometimes think that evangelicals have a problem with sodomy, and they think that is what homosexuality is. It isn't. If it's sodomy you dislike, then say so. But that is not homosexuality and it does not adequately describe gay sex--certainly not lesbian sex.
Chris | 30 June 2012


Myra, everything is a political statement - it just depends what side of politics you on. Would Pell have refused someone wearing a Liberal Party t-shirt? I guess not. Pell made a political statement by refusing them communion. He has no right to do that.
AURELIUS | 30 June 2012


Since my last post, I found a report of a Canadian man being fined $12,000 by the Québec Human Rights Tribunal for ‘directing homophobic remarks’ toward his ‘homosexual neighbours’ during an argument. He is reported to have called them ‘faggots’. You will find the report at www.lifesitenews.com/news/quebec-human-rights-tribunal-fines-man-12000-for-homophobic-remarks/

If this is the sort of evidence that HH has for his claim that ‘the FACT [my emphasis] is that if Dr Preece were publishing this article in a regime extolled by gay activists as "advanced" - such as Canada, he would be in court facing charges of homophobia’ then all I can say is get a life! Much as I disagree with what Gordon Preece has said in his article and the way he has said it is streets away from the abuse that the Canadian man is reported to have said.

A $12,000 fine may sound a lot, but compared with the damage that the state and the church has done to people in the LGBT community over many years, it’s a trifle. For an example of the reprehensible treatment meted out to an amazing man simply because of his sexual orientation, I refer you to the program about Alan Turing on the ABC’s Science Show on 16 June this year. If you are quick, you can access it at www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/alan-turing-e28093-thinker-ahead-of-his-time/4034006

Ginger Meggs | 02 July 2012


GM, 1. I'm just taking my cue from the official stance of the Quebec government towards this register: the register of Homophobic Acts is endorsed and funded by the Quebec Department of Justice. At the launch by the Gai Ecoutes ("Gay Scouts), the speaker was flanked by the Montreal Police chief and another police officer.

2. While $12,000 is an outrageously high fine for calling someone a "faggot", that's not what I had in mind, and you're right to distinguish the comments of Dr Preece from terms of abuse such as this. (Incidentally, calling someone a "bigot" merely because they disagree with one a moral point is also a term of abuse. What sort of fine should that attract, I wonder?). A direct analogy is Bill Whatcott who campaigns actively on the moral and physical dangers of the homosexual lifestyle. Like Dr Preece, he does not use terms of abuse. He has been repeatedly roughed up by police, and was once threatened with committal to an insane asylum. In 2006, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ordered Whatcott to pay $17,500 Cn. to four complainants who complained that their "feelings" and "self-respect" were "injured" by Whatcott’s pamphlets denouncing the "gay lifestyle" as immoral and dangerous. Moreover, the SHRC imposed a lifetime ban on his public criticism of the homosexual lifestyle.
HH | 03 July 2012


Where Some Angels May Fear to Tread –
A Reply to Gordon Preece’s Response to Michael Kirby’s Introduction to
Five Easy Pieces


Christopher Sexton*

It is a challenge to reply, with requisite brevity, to Gordon Preece’s response to Michael Kirby’s Introduction to Five Easy Pieces (Eureka Street, 24 June 2012). In part, this is due to the arguably muddled mix of various sociological and theological arguments espoused and applied by the author on the subject. The former I will not address, but Mr Preece’s theological premises and their conclusions do invite, indeed call for, a corrective reply.

It would appear that the central tenet of Mr Preece’s theological argument is founded on the premise that only one fundamental interpretation of the Bible on homosexuality must be correct. As a theologian himself, this all seems rather odd to me. The art/science of “exegesis” (which presumably should also apply to Mr Preece’s home-spun “sexegesis”) has long been treated as a durable yet supple process, and one reliant not just on a “set-in-stone” literal interpretation of the biblical author’s words, but construed and re-construed in the context of the times. This must include the ethical, cultural and historical standards of the times, the very exegetical tools of the trade which Mr Preece would have us disregard in any modern interpretation of those same biblical passages.

Notably, in the gospels, Jesus often begins a parable with the question: “What do you think?” Jesus was thereby inviting his hearers to think along with him, to be interpreters in their own right. Some members of the laity may well think of themselves as only the recipients of biblical interpretation from theologians, scholars and clerics. Notwithstanding, and here I believe the great Cardinal J.H. Newman would support this position, each of us, within an acceptable framework, can and should think of themselves as biblical interpreters in their own right. This does not constitute what Mr Preece would have us believe amounts to the use of “contemporary context to manipulate ancient text”.

Turning to the issue at hand, a few salient points of fact should be made. First, there is no single word in Hebrew or in Greek which lends itself to a simple literal translation of the term “homosexual”. The word appeared in the Bible for the first time in the 1946 Revised Standard Version in 1 Corinthians 6:9. Secondly, biblical texts do not deal with homosexuality as a psycho-sexual orientation determined at birth or developed as a relationship between consenting adults, and no biblical passage provides any extensive commentary on same-gender behaviour or same-gender relationships. And finally, there is no reference to homosexuality in the four gospels.

Notably, there are only six biblical passages (perhaps eleven, if you count the parallel stories) which refer to homosexuality – that is, same-gender genital activity, predominantly between males [Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17-18; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; and 1 Timothy 1:8-11]. Those passages are located in contexts which address other, and in some cases far broader, social issues.

I will not address the current position of the Magisterium on this issue, which is well-known, save to make these observations. There are various ways to interpret what the Bible says about homosexuals as human beings – namely, as offering rules for behaviour, concepts for belief, and images of faith.

From the many and various conclusions about the implications of the biblical passages cited above for rules of behaviour, the implications are usually negative, such as do not practise homosexual behaviour or do not treat homosexuals as equal. To counter this, there exist other biblical rules which have a bearing on our interpretation of the behavioural implications of those texts – for example, “Love your neighbour as yourself” [Matthew 19:19, 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27] and “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged” [Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37].

Some biblical interpreters also think that all the passages that refer to homosexuality point to the same concept, namely that homosexuality is an abomination. There are, however, other concepts to be heeded from those texts – for example, the general invocation for covenant fidelity [Leviticus 18-20; Deuteronomy 23]; the portrayal of the human condition as sinful and the potential for transformation because of God’s grace [Romans 1-3]; or the emphasis on communal solidarity [1 Corinthians 6; 1 Timothy 1].

Finally, in Romans 1, Paul appeals to the image of God as Creator. He says that the appropriate behaviour for humans as creatures is to worship and honour only God.

Eventually, in the fullness of time and rationality, I believe the dust will settle on this issue. The whole “uneasy” conversation, as Mr Preece would have us believe it be, resonates with the debates in the 19th century that followed Darwin’s scientific discoveries and thesis on the evolution of humankind. First, there was rage, then denunciation, then heresy accusations. This was followed by laughter, denigration, gradual and level-headed debate, and ultimately, general acceptance and reconciliation. In the present theological climate, it is the strict literalists who look absurd.

Michael Kirby is a great Australian. Not solely for the eminence of his judicial and many other contributions to Australian society, but because, after some 60 years of dignifiedly-held privacy, he had the courage, as a Christian, to declare publicly his sexual orientation. This was not a cri de coeur, but rather I believe a mark of self-vindication to express and to exercise a basic human right for himself, his partner, and for many others. In a biblical context, he has, without fear or favour, dared to tread.


*Christopher Sexton, M.Th. (Distinction), LL.B., B.Ec., B.A. (Hons) is a lawyer, theologian and writer.

Christopher Sexton | 03 July 2012


Andrew Sexton, among many things one might say in criticism of this piece: to posit that dictums such as "Love your neighbour as yourself" run "counter" to condemnations of homosexual acts is surely to beg the question. If homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, then to teach poor sinners that they are so is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy: viz. to Admonish the Sinner. And remember that the Dominical precept "Judge not..." is a warning against RASH judgement. Please, this topic is too important to haul in this kind of distraction. All of us are bound to judge both our own acts and those of others. How could we conduct ourselves, and appropriately guide our children otherwise?
HH | 03 July 2012


Apologies: Christopher, not Andrew.
HH | 03 July 2012


Yes, Christopher Sexton- Paul in Romans 1, does say that the appropriate behavior for humans is to worship and honor only God.This indeed is the true wisdom of man- piety. You find this in the book of Job. For we read there: "Behold, the fear of the Lord [pietas], that is wisdom." The Greeks sometimes call piety e?s?ße?a, which signifies right worship of God. In addition, Paul in Romans 1, clarifying the means by which this kind of worship is actualized, goes on to say; Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.


Bernstein | 03 July 2012


So HH, what you had in mind was not the Québec case after all, but one in Saskatchewan where the HRC found against Whatcott. But it seems that what you have failed to tell us is that Whatcott subsequently appealed that decision and it was quashed by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. Now since there has been a lot of talk about morality, what was that saying about the truth, the whole truth,...? Those who are interested can find the record of the Appeal court decision here - www.canlii.org/en/sk/skca/doc/2010/2010skca26/2010skca26.html
Ginger Meggs | 03 July 2012


Add to this, that sins, however great and detestable they may be, are looked upon as trivial, or as not sins at all, when men get accustomed to them; and so far does this go, that such sins are not only not concealed, but are boasted of, and published far and wide.The expression in Genesis: "The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great," because in these cities crimes were not only not punished, but were openly committed, as if under the protection of the law. "Woe to the sins of men! For it is only when we are not accustomed to them that we shrink from them: when once we are accustomed to them, though they are so great that the kingdom of God is wholly shut against them, constant familiarity leads to the toleration of them all, and habitual toleration leads to the practice of many of them".
Bernstein | 04 July 2012


GM, what you yourself failed to inform us of is the backing by the Quebec Department of Justice and the Montreal Police for the "Registry of Homophobic Acts". Why you should suppose that this Registry would have triggered a court case within barely a fortnight of its inception is anybody's guess. As to Mr Whatcott, the fact that you think it settles all issues that his case was eventually vindicated at the level of a superior court speaks volumes about your grasp of everyday realities. My original point was, as you'll recall, that Dr Preece would land in court ("he would be in court facing charges of homophobia") for his remarks in his post - a contribution analogous in tone to those of Mr Whatcott, who has had to front court on numerous occasions. So my point about the dire situation in Canada (including, but not just specifying, Quebec) is made. Now, you may not choose to think about what it means to have to front a court on this sort of charge. But in my opinion, it is outrageous that Mr Whatcott was hugely fined and restricted at all by inferior courts and so-called "Human Rights" Commissions. The identity of the particular province in Canada is immaterial, but the Quebec "Registry" and the pomp of its launch seems to enhance the prospects of Quebec in the near future of attacking the Whatcott/Preece stance. I put it to you that the Mr Whatcott/Dr Preeces of this world do not deserve to be at the risk of curial (higher or lower) determinations for venturing the sincere opinion that the homosexual lifestyle is morally wrong. Nor, of course, does Mr Whatcott deserve to be on the receiving end of police persecution for advertising his views. You may have another point of view, but that's my humble opinion.
HH | 04 July 2012


What is all this talk about "homosexual acts"? Is it any act carried out by a homosexual? If people are too ashamed to articulate clearly what they are really talking about, then perhaps they should remain silent on this matter. The bible tells us that the intention in our hearts is what counts. Matthew 5:28 "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

The supposed virtue of a life of total sexual abstinence for homosexual people is an unjust moral imposition, just as it would be to expect heterosexual people to remain celibate. It's an issue the church must grapple with and somehow attempt to resolve. Physical chastity is a farce if someone is churning and burning inside with desire and lustful thoughts. Wouldn't a faithful stable Church blessed partnership for homosexual people be a more redeeming option to the opposite end of the spectrum where many are forced to live a lie, act out and seek solace in the often seedy and promiscuous gay subculture?

AURELIUS | 07 July 2012


HH, you posed a question in your earlier post that nobody seems to have answered and I believe it deserves a response. "How could we conduct ourselves, and appropriately guide our children otherwise?" Well, I don't know what the response would be in Quebec, but here in Australia I would tell our children the current thinking... If you turn out to be heterosexual you can expect God's blessing and happily live in hope of finding a life-long soulmate with whom to create a family. If you turn out to be homosexual, you must avoid having genital contact with someone of your gender - as this will lead you to hell and damnation.
AURELIUS | 09 July 2012


Thanks Aurelius. Catholic/natural law teaching on sexual activity is both more challenging in general than you make it out to be, and yet less harsh towards people with homosexual inclinations than your account implies. As to the latter: you've omitted to say that homosexuals are free to take a spouse of the opposite sex just as heterosexuals are. This is not just a fantasy - see http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/club-unicorn-i-am-a-gay-devout-mormon-happily-married-to-a-woman-with-three/. On the other hand, many heterosexuals can not legitimately hope to marry - at least, in the eyes of the Church. For example, those who are impotent, and others for various other reasons - psychological incapability, etc. For reasons I won't go into, I do not consider myself a suitable candidate for marriage. Everyone, such as myself, who is not married, may not engage in genital sexual activity, fullstop - homosexual, heterosexual, or otherwise. Even spouses may engage only in the marriage act (natural intercourse) with each other. Completed genital activity (as opposed to foreplay to natural intercourse) of any other type is absolutely forbidden, and natural intercourse is forbidden with every person in the world except their spouse. In sum, for all those who are not married, chastity equates with celibacy, and for those who are married, chastity also equates to celibacy relative to all others, except one's spouse.
HH | 09 July 2012


HH, if "homosexuals are free to take a spouse of the opposite sex just as heterosexuals are", which I am sure happens in many cases unwitting, would not that be regarded as a marriage of convenience? If the homosexual spouse was on the extreme end of the "sexuality spectrum" and was unable to consumate the marriage through intercourse, for example. What about two gay people of opposite genders, marrying? Would that work?
AURELIUS | 10 July 2012


When it comes to a Catholic marriage , this contract is not truly completed or consummated until 'heterosexual intercourse' occurs between a man and his wife after the ceremony. The Catholic Church allows any Catholic marriage that has not been consummated, regardless of the reason for non-consummation, to be dissolved by the Vatican. Also an inability to consummate, or a refusal to consummate a marriage are both probable grounds for having an annulment of ones marriage. Catholic law recognizes that a marriage has been consummated when spouses have performed between themselves a 'conjugal act' -by which spouses become one flesh and by that it is 'an act' ( heterosexual intercourse) 'that is suitable for the procreation of offspring-
Myra | 10 July 2012


Thanks, Aurelius. I endorse Myra's remarks above - thanks Myra. It follows from what Myra has said that, yes, a man and woman, both with homosexual inclinations, provided they were capable of performing the marriage act, could marry. In fact I'm sure this would have happened many times over in history, and there's no reason to suppose such marriages were not happy and fruitful. The flourishing of any marriage depends far more on the ability of the spouses to sacrifice their own inclinations for the genuine good of the compact than on what those inclinations might happen to be. I'm not sure what you mean by "marriage of convenience". Usually this refers to a cynical pretence in the quest of some base goal. But there are many marriages entered into for a mixture of motives and not including romantic love, which are nevertheless authentic. In the context of our discussion, I've read of an erstwhile promiscuous homosexual who married in order, among other things, to enable him to deal with this temptation. His spouse knew of his situation. The marriage was genuine, and happy - indeed, inspirational.
HH | 10 July 2012


This is all very fascinating. So would it be legal for a homosexual man and homosexual woman to marry and just lie to the inquisition that they are performing the copulatory duties mechanically, but nothing really happens? Does the inquisition need an evidence? Should there be CCTV bedroom links to Rome?
AURELIUS | 10 July 2012


First, it would be the marriage Tribunal of the Roman Rota, Aurelius, not the Inquisition which deals with matters of doctrine. Secondly, the Church assumes good faith on the part of all who approach the altar to be married. So, yes, any couple (homosexually inclined or not) could fake it to the Church and the world that they have consummated their marriage. In some cultures, as we've seen in old movies, consummation was proved and celebrated communally when a bloodied sheet was taken from the wedding chamber and shown to the cheering villagers. But that's never been a part of Canon Law in the Catholic Church. And neither will CCTV ever be invoked. So their pretence would succeed until one of the parties found it in their interests, or just in the interest of honesty, to come forward with the truth. But in the end, it's God we have to face up to in the prosecution of our solemn commitments, not fallible humans. Meanwhile, in gratitude to my late parents who did carry out their marital obligations, I'm happily celebrating my birthday, and I'll say a prayer for you and your flourishing, Aurelius.
HH | 10 July 2012


It seems at last the true human side of this debate is revealing itself. I think it's pretty obvious that legalistic discussion about the dos and don'ts shows that the spirit of the original doctrines on chastity/sexuality has been lost, and what were Romanised rules are now Germanised/Anglified. There's also a hint of the strict parent VS spoiled child background dialogue going on - with any attempt to discuss church teaching interpreted as modernistic permissiveness and lack of commitment to faith. There's also an element of voyeurism - as commentors seem to conclude that "he must be doing it", personalising the issue and protecting themselves by asserting their own virtuosity.
AURELIUS | 13 July 2012


This article is based on a false premise, ie the existence of God.There is no god, it`s superstition. Noen the less I believe in freedom and tolerance of all faiths, they`ll never be stamped out, just wish they too would live and let live. As a boy I always fell in love with other boys, never girls. As a man I am a man who loves men! Should I be put down?
Ian Hawkins | 19 July 2012


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