Sexual Ethics & Generous Spaciousness: Part 3

I have decided to take another paper that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations.

Part 1 | Part 2

In light of my conviction that our sexual ethics must be reflected upon communally and enlivened in our interdependent lives together, acknowledging the reality of diversity in perspective is a critical factor in the development of my thought.   The dissonance and lack of integrity and consistency in position is, I believe, eroding the capacity of Christians to think courageously and respond with confidence to our rapidly changing sexual landscape.  In the midst of this uncertainty, the public witness to the life-transforming grace of Christ is distorted, particularly in the message to gender and sexual minority persons.

An ethics of generous spaciousness prioritizes a hermeneutic of justice and hospitality in engaging Scripture and tradition.  Generous spaciousness views these as overarching themes of the biblical witness. Justice means that all people are treated equitably such that they are valued and extended dignity and respect.  Hospitality means that all people are welcomed into the process of reflection, invited to listen, to discern, to wait, and to learn from others.

Generous spaciousness fearlessly opens discussion regarding the resources of reason through disciplines such as biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy.  In such discussion, it is acknowledged that there are competing ideas, theories, and interpretations concerning human sexuality.  Such acknowledgement creates room for people to differ in their understanding of human sexuality.

Sexual Ethics & Generous Spaciousness: Part 3

I have decided to take another paper that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations.

Part 1 | Part 2

In light of my conviction that our sexual ethics must be reflected upon communally and enlivened in our interdependent lives together, acknowledging the reality of diversity in perspective is a critical factor in the development of my thought.   The dissonance and lack of integrity and consistency in position is, I believe, eroding the capacity of Christians to think courageously and respond with confidence to our rapidly changing sexual landscape.  In the midst of this uncertainty, the public witness to the life-transforming grace of Christ is distorted, particularly in the message to gender and sexual minority persons.

An ethics of generous spaciousness prioritizes a hermeneutic of justice and hospitality in engaging Scripture and tradition.  Generous spaciousness views these as overarching themes of the biblical witness. Justice means that all people are treated equitably such that they are valued and extended dignity and respect.  Hospitality means that all people are welcomed into the process of reflection, invited to listen, to discern, to wait, and to learn from others.

Generous spaciousness fearlessly opens discussion regarding the resources of reason through disciplines such as biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy.  In such discussion, it is acknowledged that there are competing ideas, theories, and interpretations concerning human sexuality.  Such acknowledgement creates room for people to differ in their understanding of human sexuality.

Sexual Ethics & Generous Spaciousness: Part 2

I have decided to take another paper that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations.

Part 1 | Part 3

Applying Sources and Norms to the Question of Gay Marriage:

Current and contextual ethical reflection recognizes the need to pay attention to all of the contributions that arise from scripture, tradition, reason and experience.  Additionally, there is an acceptance and expectation that conflicts will arise among these sources and that good ethical reflection will do the rigorous work necessary to resolve such conflicts.[1]  Each of these sources has a unique offering for the ethical task but also has limitations and weaknesses as well.

Sexual Ethics & Generous Spaciousness: Part 2

I have decided to take another paper that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations.

Part 1 | Part 3

Applying Sources and Norms to the Question of Gay Marriage:

Current and contextual ethical reflection recognizes the need to pay attention to all of the contributions that arise from scripture, tradition, reason and experience.  Additionally, there is an acceptance and expectation that conflicts will arise among these sources and that good ethical reflection will do the rigorous work necessary to resolve such conflicts.[1]  Each of these sources has a unique offering for the ethical task but also has limitations and weaknesses as well.

Sexual Ethics & Generous Spaciousness: Part 1

I have decided to take another paper that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations.

Part 2 | Part 3

Ethical reflection within a framework of faith in Jesus Christ is appropriately an evolving practice.  Christians who truly seek to follow the way of Christ will recognize that this way is never static or formulaic.  The way of Christ is always contextual and always open to the ongoing revelation of God’s story in our day and in our time.  Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who would continue to reveal, lead and guide his followers.  That this impacts our ethical reflection should come as no surprise or threat to those who recognize that this truth we seek to embody in our Christian faith is found in a person, not a proposition, and found through dynamic relationship, not rigid laws.

Sexual Ethics & Generous Spaciousness: Part 1

I have decided to take another paper that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations.

Part 2 | Part 3

Ethical reflection within a framework of faith in Jesus Christ is appropriately an evolving practice.  Christians who truly seek to follow the way of Christ will recognize that this way is never static or formulaic.  The way of Christ is always contextual and always open to the ongoing revelation of God’s story in our day and in our time.  Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who would continue to reveal, lead and guide his followers.  That this impacts our ethical reflection should come as no surprise or threat to those who recognize that this truth we seek to embody in our Christian faith is found in a person, not a proposition, and found through dynamic relationship, not rigid laws.

The Place of Lived-Experience

One of the questions that came up from my “Starting Point” series was about the place of lived experience.  That particular series focused particularly on theological starting point based on different emphasis in scriptural interpretation.  However, throughout church history, leaders have acknowledged that we should make use of several different sources as we try to interpret and discern the best perspective to hold on a controversial matter.  Scripture is often cited, by Christians, as the primary source.  John Wesley talked about a three legged stool – with scripture being the seat.  The other three sources are: tradition, reason and experience.

No Position?

Last night we had a small group of people gather to hear the story and journey of New Direction.  I was asked a fantastic question, one that I have pondered a fair bit.  The questioner inquired about the trajectory and future of New Direction.  He talked about the race issue and the implications of generous spaciousness ….. musing that at some point you wouldn’t want generous spaciousness to include the position that would continue to relegate people of colour to the back of the bus.  He wanted to know whether generous spaciousness was a temporary posture – and one that would give way to a fully and completely affirming perspective – challenging any other position.

What’s your Starting Point? Part 4

I have decided to take one of the papers that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations:

Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3

Concluding Reflections:

Many Christians from both Catholic and Protestant traditions have inherited a theology of sexuality that is constructed from a creation order starting point.  The primary focus of such a starting point is the differentiation between male and female.  The concept of complementary persons coming together in one flesh union as part of the mystery of humans imaging God is an inherent core in this theological system.  Such an understanding is supported by reflection on the Genesis creation accounts, and as we see in “Theology of Body” strengthened by Jesus’ assertion of the implications of these narratives in his response to questions about divorce.  This theological understanding has served the church well through many generations where the dominant theological emphasis fit the experience of the majority of people.

What’s your Starting Point? Part 3

I have decided to take one of the papers that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations:

Read Part 1 and Part 2

A Trinitarian and Incarnational Foundation for Sexuality:

 

 

Unlike a creation order starting point that focuses on the complementary nature of male and female as the foundation for a theology of sexuality, Trinitarian theology is focused on the relational nature of the Godhead.  Existing in eternal, self-giving love, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit created the world out of the overflow of their love.  “Because God is an internal community within God’s very being, this collapses the usual difference between the self and the other (that is, otherness as being “external” to one’s self).  Thus, God consists of both the “self” and the other.”[1]  This love is described as perichoresis which is a profoundly intimate interpenetration of three persons.  Trinitarian theology provides a rich foundation from which to envision a radical love that dwells within the communion of persons.