Added: Aaron Buckmaster - Date: 12.12.2021 21:54 - Views: 39319 - Clicks: 8489
It hardly needs to be said that entering the debate in this way exposed the Ramsey Colloquium to angry denunciation and was, for some of its members, an act of courage. We believe that any understanding of sexuality, including heterosexuality, that makes it chiefly an arena for the satisfaction of personal desire is harmful to individuals and society.
Any way of life that accepts or encourages sexual relations for pleasure or personal satisfaction alone turns away from the disciplined community that marriage is intended to engender and foster. This is a profoundly counter-cultural vision of human sexuality and one that can be helpful as we struggle with the moral question that is before us: should the church affirm faithful relationships between same-sex partners?
And who could be opposed to freedom? Defined in this way, freedom is the doctrine of personal sovereignty, the private property of the ego that has to be seized and defended. Naturally, in a culture that defines individuality as self-determination and self-assertion, discipline is at best suspect, at worst oppressive. Freedom, according to Christian tradition, is not only freedom from but also freedom for. Particularly in the witness of the Reformed churches, freedom cannot be understood as my self-liberation but only as the sovereign gift of God who, despite my opposition, rushes to my side and creates the right order that I have abandoned.
It is in this community, and nowhere else, that God meets me through Word and Sacrament, and where I learn the boundaries and, paradoxically, the unlimited possibilities of the freedom that is mine only as gift, and never as self-determination.
These are Women want sex Covenant Life I want to explore as we attempt to understand the morality of same-sex relationships among members of our church. There are the words of psychology, sociology and genetics. There are the words of natural law and tradition. But all of these words are subject to the one Word whom we worship as Lord and to whom we owe obedience.
So, in the familiar text of the Barmen Declaration:. Jesus Christas he is attested for us in Holy Scriptures, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death. Jesus Christ is the one Word of God! First, the greatness of my sin and wretchedness. Second, how I am freed from all my sins and their wretched consequences.
Third, what gratitude I owe to God for such redemption. But without the consciousness of sin the Gospel itself makes no sense. Sin threatens our relationships with death. In the self-assertion of the ego against God not only our relationship with God but also every human relationship is brought into disorder. This is certainly so in all the greater and lesser injuries that we inflict on each other—in heterosexual marriage, in celibate life, and in the partnerships formed by gays and lesbians.
Sin distorts our life together as the Body of Christ, so that no contentious issue in the church can possibly be discussed without anger and mutual recrimination—particularly an issue like sexual morality, which exposes our deepest fears of alienation, loneliness and chaos. Sin distorts all of our relationships. Left on our own, we cannot live together as God intended.
But—thanks be to God! Moral and spiritual coherence! These are not empty words! But the Reformed tradition affirms that the coherence that eludes our best efforts has already been established definitively in Jesus Christ. God is not a sealed fortress, to be attacked and seized by our engines of war ascetic practices, meditative techniques, and the like but a house full of open doors, through which we are invited to walk.
The triune being of God is therefore the primal form of all of our covenants. Here, God chooses not to be alone but with and for the humanity God created. Election, vocation, conversion and sanctification! Nothing less is at stake in Christian covenant than the overcoming of our opposition to God!
So every Christian covenant is a means of grace that draws us into the covenantal life of the Trinity. God works through covenants to convert us to a life with God and with others. Second, Christian covenants are able to the communityand therefore must be sealed by public vows. Jesus Christ is the Lord of every covenant, but the Covenant Lordship of Christ is mediated through his Body, the church. Therefore, covenant promises cannot be a private contract between two solitary persons but always a public demonstration of vows in the presence of the community.
Third, the community is able to the covenants made by its members. Because we are sinners, our covenantal relationships are always threatened by moral disorder.
Covenant partners will turn again and again to the church which, as the Body of Christ, will call us back into relationship. Fourth, Christian covenants create new life. Just as the triune life of God is not enclosed within itself but creates life in all of its forms, human covenants must also be creative. But this creative vocation must be seen in all of our covenants. In some way, every Christian covenant must extend the boundaries of life. Every Christian covenant must be generative and generous. Heterosexual marriage is the oldest of human covenants, and every other relationship descends from this encounter of a man and woman in marriage.
This is obviously so because we are born in families and we owe our existence to heterosexual parents. But the tradition also says that in the marriage of a man and a woman we have a type, or an image, of the covenantal love of God for Israel and Christ for the church. There can be no question, however, that the Jewish and Christian traditions set heterosexual marriage apart from all Women want sex Covenant Life covenants.
In any case, the marriage rites of all Christian churches testify to the tradition that marriage is a covenant between heterosexual partners. The scriptures teach us that the bond and covenant of marriage is a gift of God, a holy mystery in which man and woman become one flesh, an image of the union of Christ and the church. As the first human covenant revealed in scripture and the only human covenant present at the origin of the human race, I believe marriage has a privileged claim on the ministry of the church.
But although heterosexual marriage is uniqueit also participates in the Trinitarian structure that is common to all Christian covenants. Marriage, if I may borrow from St. It is a means of grace, through which God calls a man and a woman away from the terrible solitude of the alienated self into a life of self-giving love. Like other covenants, marriage is not closed in on itself but open to others, first, to the gift of children and family, second, to the church whose liberating boundaries encompass every Christian marriage. Like other covenants, marriage is able to Christ, who is the Covenant Lord of the married partners and of their family.
Marriage is also a vocationwhich means that to be a Christian marriage, God must summon a man and a woman into this relationship. But throughout its history, the church has also held an honored place for women and men who were called into a different covenant, but one by which they nevertheless were liberated by God to live a life with and for others.
That covenant is celibacy, and to this we will now turn. We are immediately in trouble here because most of us in this room are Protestant and we have had virtually no tradition of organized celibate community for more than years—with a few exceptions, including one Augustinian monastery in Germany that transferred its allegiance to the Lutheran Reform in and somehow survived until The disappearance of vocational celibacy, along with the organized structures without which any covenantal life is impossible, ought to be a serious concern among us. Our break with 1, years of vocational celibacy has led us to believe that marriage is normative for all men and women, that is, the only vocation of relationship to which Christians can aspire.
But it was not so in the apostolic church, as Karl Barth reminds us:. It is obvious that in the New Testament community marriage can no longer be an obligation. This is the fact, too lightly ignored by Protestant ethics in its glad affirmation of marriage. Certainly, He expressed Himself very definitely about the divine basis, the indissolubility and the sanctity of marriage Mk.
He did not command anyone to abstain from it in practice as He Himself did. We certainly cannot say, in the light of these sayings [of Jesus], that entrance into marriage is universally the higher way, the better possibility. Our true point of departure is that for Paul marriage is always a way beside which he knows another and better by which the Christian, becoming one body with his wife, does not deny the truth that he is one spirit with the Lord, but in his own way maintains and expresses it just as much as he who chooses a different path. So it is a mistake for us to see celibacy as either a compromise or a curse for those who, because of their sexual orientation or their situation in life, are unable to enter into the covenant of heterosexual marriage.
Celibacy is a gift in which the person called into this life becomes fully human. We Women want sex Covenant Life say they are incomplete because they have not fulfilled themselves in a union between a woman and a man. Instead, celibacy is a particular disciplining of sexuality that liberates sexual energy for communion with others.
We only have to look at the ecstatic visions of Roman Catholic mystics like St. John of the Cross or St. Therese of Avila, or the extraordinary creative energy of the Shaker communities, to see how sexual identity was not negated by celibacy but channeled into an intensely unitive relationship with Jesus Christ. Celibacy therefore conforms to the Trinitarian structure of covenant. It is a life with and fornot a life apart from others. Like the covenant of marriage, it should be sealed by vows.
We have no time to examine the arguments of Luther and Calvin against monastic vows, but by definition there should be Women want sex Covenant Life Christian covenant—including baptism, marriage and ordination—in which public promises are not witnessed by the community. By abolishing the vow of celibacy, the Reformers also abolished the possibility of celibate life as a normative vocation alongside heterosexual marriage. The result impoverished the church and denied any structured expression for those Protestants who were not called into marriage. A church without a covenantal vocation to celibacy is a church that is not fully oriented towards Jesus Christ—who, as Karl Barth reminds us, lived his life for others but not in the covenant of heterosexual marriage!
On the other hand, the Protestant revolt against priestly and monastic celibacy was not groundless. Men and women like the monk Martin Luther and his future wife, the nun Katherine of Bora, were living under the burden of an enforced celibacy to which they were not truly called by God. We will take up this point again in a few minutes, because it will be a critical one in our discussion about same-sex relationships. Do same-sex relationships conform to the Christian tradition of covenant? Can they become a means of grace through which God calls homosexual men and women to a life of conversion and holiness?Women want sex Covenant Life
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Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions