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Of cakes and eating them

My beloved is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Song of Songs 2.16

I still remember "the talk" we received on leaving Prep/ Primary School when the doctor came to check we were up to speed with "the birds and the bees". Then, much later, those awkward Christian Union evenings when the guest speaker addressed "the topic" and confirmed what we all knew but secretly hoped might suddenly have changed: sex is a gift of God, reserved for those in monogamous heterosexual marriages.

That remains the official position of the Church in which I serve. And there are good reasons for holding the line, not least because it follow's the Maker's instructions. Yet, in its application, it has become skewed to the point of toxicity: given a prominence it does not require and applied in a way that is so insensitive that those who have found themselves on the wrong side of that line have been left feeling humiliated and, too often, been abused.

Evidence from the Gospels suggests Jesus maintained the highest moral standards, yet was gentle with those who struggled to resist temptation and, especially with those who were forced to compromise those standards. Abandoning the rules altogether is therefore not the answer but it may be that a more faithful response to those who struggle with "purity rules" is compassion and restoration.

That still leaves those who find themselves outside the binary state in which most of us live. Medical evidence supporting the existence from birth of homosexual, asexual and intersex people is convincing to the point of being undeniable. While some take the path of abstinence, not everyone agrees this is necessary or healthy. Wanting to enjoy life according to the way God has made a person seems fair.

An increasingly liberal society, determined to kick over the traces of an excessively moralistic legacy, has prioritised sexual freedom to the extent that it is difficult to have a measured discussion with any chance of a happy resolution. At stake is affirming the Church's traditional teaching, while accommodating the relatively tiny minority with non-binary sexualities and coping compassionately with moral failure when it occurs.



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