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Were loving, faithful same-sex relations known in antiquity?

This is a guest post from John Pike, making the case that loving, faithful same-sex relations were known in antiquity, amongst other kinds of same-sex sexual relationships.

John is a GP in the Bristol area whom I know online. We have had some very interesting discussions in the context of our having quite different views on whether the Church should change its teaching on marriage and same-sex sexual relationships. But, as with such discussions, we often find unexpected things in common. John here makes the case that, in the range of patterns of relationship, loving and faithful same-sex relationships were known in antiquity, drawing on academic work which is itself based on primary research. Although I might assess parts of the evidence differently, I think he is essentially correct; it seems extraordinary to suppose that contemporary examples of such relationships are a modern construction—and outside the Church debate this is a widely held view, and one that deserves to be taken seriously. But if John is correct in his helpful summary of the evidence, then it makes it very hard to argue that the biblical writers ‘did not know’ of faithful and loving same-sex relationships, or that they ‘only condemned’ abusive relationships of this form. Same-sex relationships, and views about them, seem to have been as diverse then as they are now.

The post consists of the section of John’s discussion relating particularly to the New Testament texts; the whole of his piece is attached at the end as a document for download, if you are interested in the wider argument. It includes sections on the Ancient Near East, more on Ancient Greece, and a section on female homoeroticism.

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The church changed its mind on slavery. Why not on sex?

Will Jones writes: It rarely takes long in any discussion about a controversial ethical issue amongst Christians for someone to bring up slavery. Slavery is the great exemple of how Christian thinking has changed on a key ethical issue. Christians in the past permitted slavery, practised slavery, defended slavery. Scripture clearly permits slavery in certain circumstances, […]

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Is Synod competent?

The General Synod of the Church of England (of which I am a member) met last week in York, and there were many good things about it. We spend most of Saturday afternoon exploring some exciting developments from the ‘centre’ offering resources to dioceses and churches in the task of evangelism and the making of disciples. […]

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A Cardinal adjusts his mitria cap as he attendsthe celebration of the Easter Vigil service presided [by German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 26, 2005. [For the first time in his pontificate, now in its 27th year, the Pope has been forced to delegate senior cardinals to represent him at all Holy Week leading up to Easter on Sunday.] - RTXNCSN

Why bishops should throw away their mitres

Why do Church of England bishops wear mitres? In our age of visual media, there is a tendency to reach for visual symbolism; it seems sometimes that those on television they don’t think they are actually talking to a bishop unless the person is wearing a purple cassock. But there are many reasons for saying […]

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Miracle Worker

What miracle(s) does the Church need on sexuality?

There was a brief report in the Daily Mail online that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, believes ‘that the Church of England will need a miracle from the Holy Spirit to solve its long-running row over gay rights.’ The Most Reverend Justin Welby said the divisions cannot be healed by human hands but only […]

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Ministry at Grenfell Tower

Gabby Thomas writes: On Wednesday 14th June, like the rest of the UK, I awoke to the most harrowing pictures of Grenfell Tower on fire. Like many others, when the circumstances began to emerge around how 24 storeys could burn to the ground that easily, I was utterly speechless: How could something so simply prevented […]

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What causes disunity?

It is fairly common in discussion about church relations to cite Jesus’ so-called ‘high priestly’ prayer (John 17) and his concern ‘that they should be one’—not least because Jesus himself connects the unity of his followers with the oneness of God himself, and in both Christian and Jewish contexts this is a fundamental truth about […]

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Manifesto MAIN

Why as a Christian I am voting for Labour

This is the third in a series of guest posts, in which regular readers of this blog explain why, from a Christian perspective, they intend to vote for a particular political party—or, in one case, why they intend to spoil their ballot paper. In this one, Ali Campbell, who is Youth and Children’s Ministry Consultant at […]

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