Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, was recently interviewed by a Financial Times journalist. You can read it here. It’s all pretty anodyne, except that when pressed a teeny bit about the thing that Jesus spent most of his time talking about, namely what homosexual clergy may or may not do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, Justin got shirty, and reportedly said ‘I’m not going to go into all the sort of intricacies of what [celibacy] might or might not mean specifically, not least because we’ve just had lunch and it’s a bad post-lunchtime conversation. I’m not going there.’
I think he may have to go there, and I have a solution to his problem, if problem it be.
In the English Book of Common Prayer there is a Table of Kindred and Affinity that sets out who you may not be married to (I know the grammar’s wrong, but that’s what I say). It begins ‘A Man may not marry his mother, daughter, adopted daughter ….’ and similarly for a woman. It’s quite detailed and includes such prohibitions as a woman not marrying her daughter’s daughter’s husband. In light of such a document going into this level of detail, I suggest that what Justin now needs is a similar document giving precise details of those anatomical structures which may be apposed in the pursuit of delight and pleasure without incurring archiepiscopal censure. Such a document would be an adornment to Common Worship—indeed, definitions, footnotes and references may be sufficiently copious as to necessitate yet another volume.
Of course, this will have to be enforced, so I have two further proposals: (1) that CCTV monitoring equipment be installed in all (so as not to be discriminatory) clergy bedrooms; and (2) that diocesan pleasure police be appointed to monitor them.
‘Simples’ as Aleksandr Orlov might say. We need a coherent theology of delight, and one that takes account of evolutionary biology. I’m working on it.
I promise that this is positively my last blog about the matter.