Alan Storkey: “Resolving the gay issue”

Few will disagree with the statement that the gay issue has created an Anglican impasse which seems unbridgeable. It involves people’s intimate lives, their Christian beliefs and the character of ordained ministry. The division is largely between those who are gay and believe they have rights of respect as Christians acting in good conscience and those who see gay practice as wrong on biblical grounds, and wrong for Christian practice and ministry. I believe this impasse can be resolved, though, of course, such a process would involve opposition and conflict. Initially, what is required is that the issue be better understood mainly in Christian sociological terms. Also needed is an informed public debate to address current secular perspectives. Then probably comes an outpouring of humility. The point of departure is the modernist viewpoint which sees homosexuality as a noun describing persons and a phenomenon. On this view one is homosexual by nature, and the question then becomes whether one is free to practice what one is. This just is inaccurate. The National Sexual Survey showed that nine out of 10 of those with homosexual attraction or experience also had heterosexual attraction or experience. Many move from homosexual to heterosexual experience and vice versa. Further, there is abundant evidence of the social construction of homosexuality (and heterosexuality). Single-sex cultures in Athens, Sparta, Islamic countries, public schools, San Francisco (the Gold Rush), Oxbridge and theological colleges induce homosexual experience. The survey figures for public schools and the upper classes are about two or three times the normal level. As anyone half awake knows, a strong component of much of this behaviour is father hunger caused by separation and other parental dynamics. Homosexual culture is also passed on from older to younger men and learned through a range of experiences. Given the levels of divorce and parental absenteeism, the psychosocial tensions expressed in homosexuality are not likely to decrease. The current liberal secular culture will not admit that for many homosexuality is problematic and changing. It only focuses on individuals and their rights, and pretends that “gay rights” is all that has to be said on the issue. Yet, this is a relational issue, just as marital, heterosexual and dating issues are and the current patterns are ones of substantial chaos, breeding hurt, hardness and relational failure on a massive scale. Sooner or later the culture will have to face this breakdown. At the same time homosexuality cannot be addressed just as a moral issue. Many of us struggle with things related to our early development most of our lives. They each have their own character. Sexual abuse, parental coldness, cross-gender parental difficulties, eating disorders, learning problems and other areas of behaviour are difficult to address. Homosexuality is a tenacious orientation, perhaps made stronger by the concept of coming out and its modernist reification. Many of us are locked into lifestyles that require grace, patience and healing to resolve.

is the typical response of a ghetto subculture. parenting. which. –Church of England Newspaper . and do it with some sociological awareness. That is factually as well as normatively true. biblical teaching. The failures of the present. except as they have always been. The right to divorce? The right to sex? The right to mess up a family? These concepts are not up to the task of providing guidelines for living. It is important that all the dimensions of the issue be addressed. heterosexual marriage is a universal God-created human institution. is the biblical business of man-woman mutuality throughout all of life. more ephemeral forms of sexual union and co-habitation are precisely that. How could it be otherwise? There is a need to get out and argue a Christian case. selfpleasing culture is undergoing a crisis that it partly recognises alongside its self-rightness and liberal assertiveness. The failure of some evangelicals is not to have the sociological assurance that a full biblical understanding of relationships gives and not to address the God-denying culture of the day. and we can have very bad experiences with Christian heterosexuals without judging their faith. The bluster of the Church gay lobby is not good enough. too. heterosexual relations. non-judgementalism. marriage. Part of that. from human failure. non-marriage is marginal world-wide. Although the gay lobby make some noise.Moreover. God is always the thesis and not the anti-thesis. faithfulness are not under threat. of course. and it is time the liberal culture was persuaded of its weaknesses. Of course. In a word. In those terms our western individualist. and also to restore fellowship and be pastorally aware. trothful homosexual relationships can have things about them that are good – love. to mention only a few. To fixate on homosexuality to the virtual exclusion of the crises of divorce (no fault?). adolescent manipulation and consumerism. Marriage as troth is the normative model for adult humanity. The locus of the issue is pastoral. is what the Gospel is not. friendship and companionship. The other side of the issue is to recognise that the modernist liberal rights model of homosexual affirmation fails to address the complexities of these and indeed of all relationships. love. it is reactionary.