I've had 2 articles published in the Church of EnglandNewspaper recently. The first was at the beginning of March about moving towards the acceptance of gay-marriage. The correspondence ever since has been both intense and constant. Every week there have been letters and articles in favour or (mostly) against the argument I put forward. We are now 2 months on and still not a week goes by without something appearing in each edition.
The second was potentially no less controversial. It was an article advocating a radical change in the culture of the CofE – from that of custodian for the historic buildings and treasures which it holds, to a policy of selling off whatever is not fit for purpose today, and using the proceeds to fund ministry, mission and evangelism! If we did this, it would release us from having to raise millions of pounds each year for maintenance, repairs and insurance, as well as providing millions for new ministry.But what response has this article elicited? Nothing, zero, zilch.
Both were full page feature articles; both had the potential to arouse deep passions; both would cause controversy if they were implemented in parish churches. And yet the one the one which had the potential to completely transform the culture and ministry of the CofE appears to have one vital ingredient missing – SEX!Perhaps my friend was right… If you want to provoke controversy, you have to include sex.
I remember when I was at Theological College 20 years ago, there was a book on the bookstall by Joyce Huggett entitled “Life in a sex mad society” (pictured). It was one in a very successful pastoral series where the author challenged much of the pervading obsession with sex in society.Also at college with me was Joyce Huggett’s son, Kevin – and I remember the day when someone with considerable artistic talent did a wonderful spoof book cover which he placed around the book on the bookstall. At first sight it was difficult to see any difference. It was identical in every way except one – the title. Instead of being titled “Life in a Sex Mad Society” by Joyce Huggett” he had transformed it into “Life with a Sex Mad Mother” by Kevin Huggett! We all laughed – including Kevin.
Perhaps we need a new book today, “Life in a Sex Mad Church”. I am sure that it would sell millions, because it had the magic ingredient – SEX!When are we going to get over our preoccupation with sex, I wonder? When are we going to start thinking about love rather than sex? When are we going to devote our time and energy to things that might really make a difference - rather than focussing on what people do in bed.
Last weekend I heard a pro-gay friend tell the story of an encounter with a sceptical evangelical who said that one of the problems he has with gay relationships is that he could not imagine what it would be like for 2 men to have sex together. My friend replied without hesitation, “So please stop trying!”Say no more..?