Western culture and the sexual self – the contemporary challenge to the Christian view of human identity and sexual behaviour

Nov 27, 2020 by

By Martin Davie, Reflections of an Anglican Theologian:

The St Andrew’s Day Statement, published twenty five years ago this month by the Church of England Evangelical Council, was an attempt by a collection of British Evangelical theologians to try to sketch out what a constructive Christian engagement with the issue of same-sex relationships should look like at a time when, like today, the Church was deeply divided about the topic, following the publication of Issues in Human Sexuality in 1991 and in the run up to the Lambeth Conference of 1998. It was intended to; ‘provide some definition of the theological ground upon which the issue should be addressed and from which any fruitful discussion between those who disagree may proceed.’ 

The statement was welcomed by many at the time of its publication as an important statement of the Evangelical position, and it has been read, re-read and referenced constantly in the quarter century since…

…in the eyes of contemporary culture the Christian anthropology contained in the Saint Andrew’s Day Statement and expounded at the start of this paper could well be seen as a form of ‘hate speech.’  This is because the claim that there is ‘no such thing as ‘a’ homosexual’ is an attack on the very identity of the people concerned and as such, as [Carl] Trueman says, ‘a moral offense, not simply a matter of indifference.’  From this perspective, the theological approach expressed in the St Andrew’s Day Statement is as offensive as the theological arguments that were used to support slavery and apartheid.

This is also why LGBTQI+ campaigners object so strongly to the idea that those Christians who object to same-sex sexual relationships can ‘hate the sin but love the sinner.’  In a Post-Freudian world view sexual identity and sexual behaviour cannot be separated. Hence to hate the sin  is necessarily also  to hate the sinner.

Lastly, this is why LGBTQI+ campaigners will not be content with anything less than the transformation of the Church of England into a body that fully and unreservedly affirms lesbian and gay relationships and all forms of transgender activity. Anything less is an attack on the fundamental identity of the people concerned and as such morally unacceptable. Viewed from this perspective, the hope of the powers that be in the Church of England that we can simply learn to live with difference is naïve.

What all this means for orthodox Christians in the Church of England.

For orthodox Christians in the Church of England, that is, those Christians who still hold to the anthropology and sexual ethics taught in the Bible and by the subsequent mainstream tradition of the Christian Church, the first thing this all means is that they need to ‘wake up and smell the coffee.’

More specifically, it means that they need to accept that the opposition to traditional Christian anthropology and ethics is not going away any time soon. Even if the orthodox hold the line in the Church of England in the immediate aftermath of Living in Love and Faith, the campaign to change the theology and practice of the Church of England will simply continue for the reasons set out above.   

In addition, orthodox Christians need to realise that being faithful to their beliefs will mean being willing to live as a member of morally suspect minority in our society. Fortunately, protections to religious liberty are sufficiently well entrenched in our society that Christians do not need to fear the sort of persecution for their beliefs that Christians face in other parts of the world.  However, they will face what Rod Dreher has called assaults from ‘soft totalitarianism’…

Read here

See also: 10 Things You Should Know about the Sexual Revolutionby Carl R Trueman, Crossway

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