People from three C of I dioceses met today at the Emmaus Centre in Swords, County Dublin, to discuss sexuality. I’m not sure why. Simply exchanging views perhaps. The dioceses involved were Connor (north-east Ulster including much of Belfast), Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh (north central Ireland including Cavan and Sligo) and this diocese (the ‘sunny’ south east). There was a wide spread of opinion, since it’s a fairly reliable rule of thumb that in the C of I south is liberal and north conservative. Here are some thoughts.
- Some people don’t believe in evolution, one giving as justification the ‘fact’ we don’t have tails. He was serious. Does he know that at a certain stage of embryonic development, we do have tails?
- Some think the Bible to have been ‘written by God’.
- Some take the first creation story literally: ‘Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’ – yes someone actually said that, but are silent about whether Adam was one rib short after surgery.
- One person was ignorant of the facts of biology and was determined to remain so. I enjoyed, though, discussing with a farmer the ways that cows and bulls play with each other’s genitals.
- Many felt that of St Paul’s list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6, one—homosexuality (a dubious translation but the one that was used)—should be taken seriously, while others could be glossed over. This is probably just as well since the list includes greed, and there were plenty posh cars in the car park and fat people in the room. As for others on Paul’s list, for robbers think bankers and for slanderers think gossiping after services. And as for church members resorting to law to settle disputes, which Paul hammers, you wouldn’t believe what goes on if I told you.
The conference took place on the day gay marriage became legal in England and Wales. The Bishop of Buckingham, a courageous man, is reported as having said that several English bishops are in civil partnerships, but have not admitted it publicly. So much for honesty there.
Members of the Church of Ireland have a choice. They could continue as now, some of them convinced that they alone know the mind of God, and spitting venom at people who disagree with them. Or they could accept that there will never be agreement, that what consenting adults do with their bodies to express loving and faithful commitment is no business of anyone but those involved, and deal instead with stuff that really matters: economic evil, exploitation, greed, avarice, and spiritual wickedness in high places.
A day wasted, and at my age I can’t afford any more of them.