The Church of England has decreed that gay clergy in civil partnerships can become bishops but only if they are celibate. Is this a long-lost Monty Python sketch?
No, it’s the entirely natural development of the underlying theology. You most certainly don’t have to agree with that theology, I don’t, but you do have to understand it.
Sex outside a heterosexual marriage is immoral. That’s the founding stone of it all.
There is nothing at all immoral about not wanting to be in a heterosexual marriage. Nor about fancying others of the same sex, your mother, horses or children. The immorality is in acting upon those desires.
Recall, please, this is not Worstall thundering from the pulpit. This is what the Church has been teaching for a thousand years or so.
That Church has split, as we know. The Catholic, Roman, part of it still teaches exactly that. Sex inside a heterosexual marriage is one of God’s great gifts to mankind. Sex outside it is immoral and sinful.
The Church of England has got into one of its usual muddles and largely says that sex outside marriage isn’t quite as good as sex inside it in moral terms. But it’s a valid lifestyle, we’re all God’s Little Creatures etc. But here they’ve not quite managed to let go of that idea that there’s still something not quite 100% ticketty boo about sex outside that heterosexual marriage. Thus Bishops, those who represent the Church, should be held to stricter standards of morality than the clergy and the laity.
As I say, you don’t have to agree with any of this. You can most certainly call for either a change in that logic, for new churches with other logics, for a strangling of them all with their own intestines. But if you’re not willing to expend the effort to understand why these things are done and said then you’re never going to understand what is being done or said.
The objection is not to gay sex, to homosexuality. It’s to sex outside marriage which is defined as heterosexual marriage. And for the Romans, a little further than that too. Sex must be open to the possibility of conception for it to be moral as well*. Indeed, there are similarities in certain Judaic and Islamic strands of thought too.
Leading to some fairly wild rulings: a couple, (married of course) one of whom is HIV positive, may indeed use a condom to prevent infection. But only if it has a hole in it: as Il Papa has pointed out, this leaves open the possibility of conception. Anal, oral, whatever you want, go for it: but not to the point of ejaculation, that must be vaginal to preserve that possibility. Coitus interruptus ditto.
They’ve had at least a millennium to think all this through. One might (and act as if) their basic precept is wrong in itself, that only sex within marriage with the possibility of conception is moral.
But if you don’t understand that that is where they’re coming from you’re just not going to understand all the rest of it.
*Undoubtedly someone will bring up the aged, post-menopausal. Or the congenitally infertile. At which point that “possibility” becomes important. For we’ve Biblical evidence (somewhere in Genesis….Sarah?) that God can overcome these if he chooses. Again, you don’t have to believe it. But you should at least try to understand what they do believe.