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Intimacies, Sexual and Otherwise

By Fr. Mark Perkins

Caravaggio's 'The Incredulity of Saint Thomas' (1601-02)
Is there any fruitful ground left for theological debate around sexuality? The answer at first seems a definitive "no." The denominational landscape of American Christianity has been rent asunder in the past half-century, most fundamentally over questions related to same-sex marriage — and rent so definitively that no common ground exists any longer. The warring camps, it seems, share no spaces or institutions in which — or even over which — to argue. Perhaps such ground never really existed anyway. The breakup of jurisdictions and denominations happened more through open power struggles than genuine intellectual dispute. These power struggles continue in some quarters, of course, but the theological question of same-sex marriage — specifically, whether or not the biblical vision of marriage can be modified to include the institution called "same-sex marriage" — seems rather played out. Continuing Anglicans in particular may be tempted to think that affirming the impossibility of same-sex marriage — and women’s ordination — sufficiently clarifies our theology of sexuality.
As I read Wesley Hill's thoughtful review of Paul Griffiths's latest book, Christian Flesh, however, I was reminded of the various under-explored questions beyond the tired same-sex marriage debate. That debate has arguably obscured the distinctions and boundaries between sexual and non-sexual forms of human intimacy — for instance, the intimacy of a parent and child, between siblings, and among friends. Further, partisans on both sides have typically failed to think deeply enough about the nature of regeneration and redemption in relation to all forms of human sexuality.

Read the rest here.

Although I think these questions are potentially meaningful for any theologically informed Christian, I do think it would be particularly valuable for clergy to start thinking about them -- hence our decision to post them as "Clergy Education."


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