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Shame

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 Corinthians 6.19


In a liberal society rights are privileged over responsibilities leading to a sense of entitlement. This works itself out in all sorts of ways. Yet this development does not occur in a vacuum. It grows out of the society in which it is conceived. The sexual revolution, which dates from the 1960s and continues to spread its influence in the current explosion of sexualities and gender identities, began as a reaction against post-Victorian moralism and was fuelled by the invention of "the pill". Some churches capitulated and still do, others reacted with counter-initiatives such as the "purity movement".


The unhappy consequence is a divided Church and a confused society. Without consistent teaching on sexual ethics the church cannot hope to influence society and society need not waste its time looking to the Church for wisdom. "Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint" as the proverb has it (Proverbs 29.18). Recent revelations of abuse touch every corner of society, including the Church, and the legacy of mental, physical, spiritual and relational damage is tragic.


Is there a solution? Of course there is, if we are willing to ignore the stereotyping and face down the anger and mockery emanating from both extremes. The Bible teaches that all people, of both sexes and of every nationality, are created equal and in the image of God. We have bodies, minds and souls, duties and responsibilities. Children are important too, as are older people, strangers and the destitute.


For a while God graced creation with his presence, in the person of Jesus, and demonstrated what living according to the Maker's instructions looks like. It included respect for all, with mercy towards those who mess up unless they happen to be abusing their status, in which case restitution and reform are required. Rather than rights or privileges, Jesus points us towards a recognition that everything is precious and we must live accordingly, conscious of our responsibilities, ready to admit our mistakes and work collaboratively to repair the damage.

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