Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Same Sex Blessing and the Anglican Church of Canada

The Anglican Network of Canada, a conservative Anglican affiliation of churches, split from the Anglican Church of Canada, the prevailing body of authority for the Anglicans in Canada. Ostensibly this split has been over "same sex blessings" and the prospect of Gay or Homosexual Marriage. Division however is always about pride. Love adds and multiplies, fear subtracts and divides.

Sodomy was never approved of officially by England yet it was an open secret as part of their upper class boys schools. In upper classes homosexual behaviour between friends was never an issue as long as one produced a child somehow for the succession and financial stability of the family as a whole. Lesbian relationships were never truly frowned on. Even today gay male actors say that their careers would be potentially ruined if they were 'outed' whereas in contrast women who cavort with other women on the silver screen increase their ratings.

Anal sex is dirty. Indeed anal sex is in the minds of most associated with Sexually Transmitted Disease especially HIV. However it hasn't so much been anal sex as any unprotected sex and multiplicity of partners that has been the most serious problem. God doesn't approve of promiscuity. Ironically from a medical point of view the African "truck stop prostitutes" (presently being studied by Canadian researchers) have through multitudinous contacts developed or selected for HIV immunity. A small but similar group of gay males in San Francisco have developed immunity to HIV. This is not to suggest mass exodus from monogamy or protected sex but it does suggest that God's expression in the natural world is not so simplistic as those who would say that HIV was a "sign". It continues to kill more heterosexuals in Africa while in Canada it's a disease that with treatment now carries about the same risk as diabetes.

All sex is dirty to the dirty minded. The intellectual and rationalists and the obsessive compulsives have never accepted that God would have us enter this world between piss as shit. As one conservative Christian said when I helped explain to her the facts of life, she and her partner not pregnant a year after a very white marriage, that indeed the penis had to go in her vagina. "But that's where I pee, God couldn't want that to be the place where it goes." Anglicans have always had a decidedly finicky group in their midst. That tea and toast, tellie watching set, is thankfully offset by their opposites the horsey sets with lots of dogs and the appreciation for the sacred in all God's creation. Catholic's, especially, the Orthodox, have always referred to Nature as "God's book". As a Scientist I've loved Christianity for it's appreciation of the Bible and nature.

As Scientists we know that men and women had sex for pleasure before they actually connected it with procreation. The church has been into 'control' in that governmental sense that has control a precursor to taxes and all sexual activity except 'missionary position' outlawed by priests who were somehow expected to 'police' this activity. From Galileo onwards the church has played 'catch up' with Science in the overlapping domains.

Homosexuality is ubiquitous in nature. It's certainly not demonesque. Ideally perhaps all men would be Joseph and their wives would have a son through divine intervention, Mary's hymen would regenerate and then these Mary's would have children, such as James, in the au natural way. When men ask, What would Jesus do?, women might likewise ask, what Mary would do? Mary was clearly married.

Marriage was till the 20th century not a romantic 'sex in the city' folly but rather a very serious community and church endeavor for family. Marriage was a 'family act'. The Bible specifically associates church leadership with men who keep their families in order. A minister friend from a conservative Christian church had to give up church leadership after his divorce.

This is critical biblically because the Catholic church moved away from this with it's celibate monks and more recently the Christian churches collectively moved away from this with female clergy. Indeed, theologically, once women were allowed church leadership there was really no Biblical reason for denying single men, heterosexual or homosexual, church leadership. The Bible specifies a family man and yet the early female clergy breaking drastically from tradition weren't even necessarily married or having children.

In the 1950's effective birth control became available. The Birth Control Pill, a contribution of science, changed the western world and the nature of family dramatically. Today half a century later the church is again playing 'catch up'.

The controversy of "Gay Marriage" rests not so much with this aspect of homosexuality but more importantly with the variation of the term 'marriage'. In the west, especially in Canada, we think of marriage as "monogamy'. Gays are very few, at last estimate less that 4% at most. What is a threat to the traditions of Christian society, and marriage in particular, is polygamy. Polygamy, which naturally multiplies the dirty, is the traditional marital form of the Muslims and Mormons. Both of these 'robust' religious groups are gaining membership in comparison to the dwindling membership of some mainstream western churches. Polygammy is decidedly non feminist to many western women. While there are two matriarchal tribal polygamist societies the vast majority of polygamist societies are decidedly patriarchal.

In Africa where the greatest increase in Anglican membership has taken place, polygammy is a tribal tradition associated with the prevailing animist religions and the competing Muslim religions. Christians pride themselves on their monogamy and for parents at least one child is designated as the one to care for the elderly.
Homosexuality has been seen as depriving parents of their 'future' though it gay men have a long history with women in general of being the caretakers of the old.

In First Nations communities of Canada gay people are seen as 'twin spirited'. This scientifically is represented in the physical world by nature's production of 'hermaphrodites'. These are men and women with both genitalia and a definite interior sense of being sexually 'one or the other or both'. The study of hermaphroditism in nature is a rich challenge to those whose course in life is much clearer.

The merit of the Anglican Church of Canada is it's 'Inclusiveness". It's view of the "good news" of the gospel is that all are welcome rather than excluded. Sexual behaviour has only come under the microscope in the last hundred to a hundred and fifty years in western society. It's most likely that the dirty minded neighbour is more interested in sexuality than God. In fact the church's fascination with what goes on behind closed doors might well be a reason why so many Canadians are turning to other spiritual traditions that take the view of the American military in all matters sexual, "don't tell".

Paternity studies show that one third of the children are not their father's. This was once a main issues of monogamy. There was the hope for men that they were 'bringing home the bacon' for their own kin. Now as many women are bringing home the bacon. And that great Christian play and movie 'The Great Kahunna"said it all in the line, "Jesus had nothing to say about women in business suits."

The church is a community of men and women seeking to know God more truly. I am personally an ecumenicalist and believe that God would like to see us all get along together. It's always easiest to be with those who think like you do but Jesus said "love your enemy'. In diplomatic circles it's always best that everyone is sitting down at the 'table'. In this case the 'table' is the great communion. It's equally the last supper.

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