A post on More than a via media is a timely prompt to raise a question or two about same sex partnerships. One of the difficulties conservative Anglicans do not have is raising dust about resolutions such as General Convention D025 and B033. But when the dust settles, when we cheer the TEC train out of the Communion station on Track no. Two, we have an ongoing matter to attend to, namely, how we respond to the phenomenon which is fairly new to Western society, the presence of stable same sex partnerships which society makes both legal and respectable.
In one post I do not want to attempt to sort the matter out. It would be arrogant to think I could do so. In any case, even if I did have a 'solution' of the kind, say, which one day would be recognized universally, the matter of holding the church together would remain an urgent question. But here are some things I have been reflecting on:
- Is there not 'goodness' in a stable same sex partnership, notably the good of human companionship and friendship?
- Is it not a very good thing when society through law protects each and every member of society from prejudice and discrimination on an arbitrary basis? (I was reminded, reading something the other day, of a classic instance of non-arbitrary discrimination: a lingerie shop is allowed to specify female applicants only for vacancies!)
- Consequently, can the church find ways to affirm human companionship and friendship, and to celebrate good laws operating in society?
But all this is better expressed, and with a little more 'bite' by More than a via media - in full here, an excerpt towards the end of the post follows:
"Radner does not address to what extent the contemporary Christian tradition has actually reneged on the Scriptural and traditional prohibition of usury - rather than seeking to apply in a pastorally sensitive manner the Scriptural critique of usury.
What is intriguing about his suggestion, however, is that it does perhaps imply that the new pastoral reality of the emergence of permanent, faithful, stable same-sex relationships in late 20th/early 21st century Western society could be compared to the increasingly legal status of usury in 17th century Europe and the Church's response to this. As O'Donovan hints at the conclusion of his A Conversation Waiting to Begin, the debate could then "bulk less threateningly than it once did ... It is a problem reduced to its true shape and size".
In other words, same-sex relationships are not something which our public teaching can affirm or which the liturgy can bless - but a social reality in which the Church's pastoral ministry can seek to encourage the application and growth of a Christian understanding of the virtues."