Churches and Sexuality – Finding Common Ground

In the heated debates over sexuality, sin and the Christian response, is there a possibility that the churches find common ground? A new report by Savitri Hensman for the religious think tank Ekklesia thinks there is :

Think-tank proposes different approach to church sexuality row

Churches with different views in heated debates about sexuality actually share common ground and can move forward despite their differences, says a new paper from the Christian think-tank Ekklesia.

The research paper, ‘Church views on sexuality: recovering the middle ground’, by Savitri Hensman, rejects the popular idea that there are two warring blocks that may be labelled ‘traditionalists’ and ‘revisionists’. This is simplistic and can be misleading as well as unhelpful, it says.

In the new paper, Ekklesia identifies seven widely held viewpoints on sexuality within churches of different denominations and traditions. It shows that those with supposedly diametrically opposing positions often have more in common than they may at first think – even though they may presently disagree about same-sex relationships, for example.

Equally, it argues, coexistence among those sharing a ‘middle ground’ is not about weak compromise, but instead reflects an approach both deeply rooted in Bible and tradition and open to change as a living community led by the Spirit.

– full news release at Ekklesia.

The abstract for the published paper gives:

Abstract:
It is clear that Christians hold a spectrum of views on sexuality and marriage. However, the popular idea that there are two warring blocks that may be labelled  ‘traditionalists’ and ‘revisionists’ is simplistic and can be misleading as well as unhelpful. Current tensions could be reduced and reframed significantly if more church leaders acknowledged the extent of common ground in the middle of this continuum, allowed limited flexibility of practice, and enabled their communities to develop practices of discernment oriented towards the “grace and truth” (John 1.13- 15) that lies at the heart of the Christian message. In this paper, Ekklesia associate Savitri Hensman identifies seven widely held positions on sexuality. She suggests that those with supposedly diametrically opposing views often have more in common than they may at first think. Equally, she argues, in Christian terms, that coexistence among those sharing a ‘middle ground’ is not about weak compromise, but instead reflects an approach both deeply rooted in Bible and tradition and open to change as a living community led by the Spirit.

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