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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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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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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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Truth and falsehood in Synod debates

Simon Butler has today made a response to my claim that he made false claims about me to Synod and, though I don’t think that public exchanges of statements are the best way to resolve things, his statement requires that I clarify further than I have already done. (My first explanation and his statement can be found […]

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On Synod, sexuality, and not ‘Taking note’

Yesterday the General Synod of the Church of England debated the report offered by the House of Bishops outlining where we had got to in the debate about sexuality. The form of the debate was unusual; rather than proposing anything, the motion was simply to ‘Take note’ of the report, which essentially means acknowledging that […]

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Church teaching and LGB mental health

Peter Ould writes: The Oasis report, “In the Name of Love”, has received lots of attention since its release on Friday.  The Oasis paper makes three claims, two of which are relatively uncontroversial. The first is that “LGB people are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems than heterosexuals“. Several papers are cited to support […]

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Were the Shared Conversations just a Con?

Amongst the rush of responses to the report from the House of Bishops last week, one of the more considered came from Miranda Threlfall Holmes (vicar of Belmont and Pittington on the outskirts of Durham, but soon to move to Liverpool Diocese) and it was widely circulated on social media. It offers (along with other comments) […]

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Jeremy Pemberton loses employment appeal

It was announced yesterday that Jeremy Pemberton has lost all appeals at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that he brought in relation to his Employment Tribunal (ET) case brought against Richard Inwood, Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. At one level there is not much to say on this, since the EAT has confirmed in […]

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The pragmatics of the sexuality debate

I offer here the second of three planned reflections on the sexuality debate—before returning to the bigger questions such as question of biblical interpretation, the importance of apocalyptic. Adrian Hilton recently published an exchange of six letters (three each) with Martyn Percy, Dean of Christchurch, Oxford, and in the last one Percy claims that:  I am […]

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