For the first time an openly gay priest is to be ordained as a bishop in the Church of England. Why it is so much worse for him to be a bishop than a priest is not clear to me.

So far, by my reading of the media (admittedly, not very extensive), the quality of discussion on the issue has been very poor. The liberals are talking about changes in society, the virtues of tolerance and the scriptures as subject to interpretation. The traditionalists refer to the word of God in The Bible and the danger of a split over this issue. This morning on the radio, a Canadian priest argued that the consequences for the C of E in Africa would be disastrous, as it will accentuate the perception of the West as decadent.

What strikes me about the discussion is how little attention is paid by anyone to what is actually written in The Bible. Perhaps this is because there is actually so little on it – considering the fuss which the crissies make of it.

Under ‘homosexuality’ The Oxford Companion to the Bible lists only two sources for the condemnation of gaysex: Leviticus and the letters of Paul. Leviticus is may seem clear in its condemnation of ‘lying with a man as with a woman’. But what does this mean ? As a man lacks a vagina, it is impossible that a man should do this. Does it refer to penetrative sex ? If so, it implies a moral equation between heterosexual anal and vaginal sex. That’s fine by me, but I don’t think the fundies quite see it that way. I assume that ‘lying with’ is softspeak for summat that in the original was more inyerface. This really needs a comparison of different trans … right now, cannae be arsed. If it does refer to penetrative sex then, clearly and obviously, it does not preclude oral sex. But it’s hard to imagine the fundies saying it’s cool for Adam to blow Steve, but not to bum him 🙂

Leviticus is unambiguous in stating that ‘You shall not approach a woman to have intercourse with her during her period of menstruation’. We don’t hear priests going about that. Why not? A few lines further on we are told ‘you shall not keep back a hired man’s wages till next morning’ – now taking that seriously would have some interesting consequences. A little further on we have: ‘You shall not eat meat with the blood in it’ – so no rare steak. Then ‘You shall not round off your hair from side to side’ – doubtless that was quoted by fundies who didn’t like The Beatles.

Further on we are told that one cannot be a priest if ‘.. with a defect, whether a blind man, a lame man, a man stunted or overgrown, a man deformed in foot or hand, or with mis-shaped brows or a film over his eye .. or has had a testicle ruptured.’ So there are far more ways to be precluded from being a priest than by being gay.

So if the prohibition on gaysex is the word of God and absolute, then so are the other prohibitions in Leviticus and they should be taken as seriously. I’d have thought this was an obvious point. How do those who so use the line about men not lying with men deal with it? How do they deal with the absence of reference to gaysex in The Ten Commandments, both in Exodus and Deuteronomony?

Why is there no reference in the four Gospels to Jesus even mentioning gaysex? Indeed his ‘two-clause summary of the law in Matthew 22:37-40’ (The Lion Handbook to the Bible) stating that the second most important commandment is to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ could be read as homophiliac. When Paul condemns gaysex (including girl-on-girl action) he gives no reference to any statement either by Jesus or the Apostles. So his view is really of no more status than that of a modern homophobic priest.

In one way none of this concerns me, as I’m not a crissie. If there were indeed the clear and unambiguous condemnation of gaysex in The Ten Commandments (though I counted 11 in Exodus and 12 in Deuteronomony) which might have been expected then I would have no time for liberals who wanted to re-interpret that text. It seems to me that if you don’t like the moral precepts of your religion then you either accept that this is your personal foible, or leave that religion.

It just amazes me that the points above don’t seem to have been made more strongly than they have been; especially that they have not been made by liberals within the Church of England with vastly more knowledge of The Bible than I have. Of course, it may well be that there are issues of interpretation and translation which I know nothing of. But then, none of these are referred to when the fundies base themselves on The Bible – so I am just doing what they are doing, and taking the text at its face value.

So I’m interested in any thoughts as to why the defenders of gaysex in crissie churches have not themselves confronted the traditionalists on their own ground by referring to the text of their foundational book.

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