Tag Archives: Family

Meals With a View: Family Joys at Lake Garda

A week ago, I returned from a magical fortnight’s holiday with family in Switzerland and Italy. The background is that as I was under medical advice not to travel to South Africa, my daughter Barbara in Johannesburg decided to bring her family to her sister Robynn in Switzerland (canton Zurich), where I could join them. Then, we all crossed the Alps to Italy, where they had taken a villa in Portese (part of San Felice del Benaco), right on the shore of Lake Garda.
villa-portesina
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Gay Marriage: What Pope Benedict did NOT Say

A number of news reports this week have stated that Pope Benedict has described gay marriage as a threat to humanity:

Gay marriage a threat to humanity’s future — Pope

GMA News – ‎19 hours ago‎
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict said on Monday that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined “the future of humanity itself.” The Pope made some of his strongest comments against gay marriage in a New Year address 

Gay marriage is a threat to humanity, claims Pope

Daily Mail – ‎Jan 10, 2012‎
By Graham Smith Gay marriage is one of several threats to the traditional family unit that undermines ‘the future of humanity itself’, Pope Benedict XVI warned yesterday. The pontiff told diplomats from nearly 180 countries that the education of proper 

Liberal family values, same-sex marriage a threat to the future of humanity: Pope

National Post (blog) – ‎Jan 9, 2012‎
Pope Benedict XVI attends his annual meeting with Holy See Diplomats at the Hall of the Throne on January 9, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican. During his speech the Pope pleaded for religious tolerance and an end to discrimination against Christians 

And plenty more of like ilk. If such a patently and obviously false and malicious statement is really what he said, then the LGBT community, and queer Catholis in particular, would be justified in painting him as public enemy number one.

So – did he say it?

Andrew Brown at the Guardian denies this, and I agree with him.

On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech to the diplomatic corps at the Vatican at which he didn’t say a single word about gay marriage. Reuters and, following them, many other people reported that he had denounced gay marriage as a threat to western civilisation.  

So far as I can see, Pope Benedict just didn’t. 

It’s not unusual for news headlines to report as fact statements that the Pope has not made, and I have learned by now that before responding in anger, it is safest first to check his words, reported verbatim at the Vatican website. What did he say?

Well, the first thing to stress, is that  this was just one part of a lengthy, wide-ranging  address on a range of topics. Ignoring the introduction, this address included 2158 words in the English text.  The distinct topics covered were the global economic crisis (164 words), the Arab Spring and its aftermath (314 words), conflict in the rest of the Middle East (160 words), Education of the young (492 words), religious freedom and religious conflict (473 words), and threats to the environment (130 words). So – where was the discussion of “gay marriage”, and its threat to humanity?

As Brown claims, it’s just not there. What is in the text, is a section on the importance of family as the setting for education of the young. There is also an explicit reference to family as “based on the marriage of a man and a woman”. He then went on to the bit that made the headlines:
Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.
It is presumably an assumption that the “policies” that he was referring to, are those to permit same-sex marriage or civil unions that led the press to claim that he said gay marriage is a threat to humanity, but he did not say so. The opportunity was there: he could easily have spoken about political or judicial tussles over marriage, but did not. This is not because he ignored the political process: he made explicit reference to legislative proposals for abortion, and to a court decision on patents for human embryonic stem cells. About comparable legislative or court processes on same-sex unions, and on gay adoption, there was not a word.

We must conclude that while Benedict has clearly expressed concerns about threats to the family, he is not explicitly including gay marriage as one of those threats. He wants to protect the family, which he says is the building block of society. I have no problem there – all societies are built on a fundamental building block of family, but in practice the nature of family is variable, over time and geography. “Family” does not refer only to the modern nuclear family, but in other times and places has also included extended families, polygamous families, religious monastic families and households, and others. There is no reason not to see queer families as included in the general term “family”, as many already do.

But, if I am right, what are we to make of the phrase, “family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman” that introduces the passage on family, and the threats to it?

I think there are two important considerations. I accept that Pope Benedict believes that this is so, and is genuinely thinking of the heterosexual variety, when he talks of marriage. I just don’t believe that he is so concerned about gay marriage, to include it in his “threats to the family”. Those are the threats to unborn life, as in abortion, and stem-cell research. That is what he sees as threatening humanity, not gay marriage.

The second point to bear in mind, when assessing any statement emanating from the papacy, is something I have learned from James Alison. The Vatican is a cauldron of power politics, with many factions constantly jostling for influence and power. Benedict delivers hundreds of speeches a year, but does not write them himself. The speechwriters have to bear in mind the need to balance the demands of all factions, so there are always some things that have to be said, that simply cannot be ignored. There are undoubtedly powerful forces at work strongly opposed to any form of recognition for gay/lesbian relationships, so to simply ignore the topic in a discussion of family is inconceivable – just as it is inconceivable at present for the Pope to publicly approve gay marriage.

US Catholic, focussing on the Reuters wire feed by Philip Pulella which prompted many of the other stories, slams it for sloppy reporting. First, is a discussion of the full content of the papal speech, and then notes:

A lot there, no? He asks for “policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue.” Something in there as well about not patenting human genetic material, as well as opposition against sex-selective abortion, used almost exclusively to choose males over females. It’s true an extensive quote like this isn’t feasible for a wire service story, but how about a qualifying sentence?

Pullella undoubtedly did not write his own headline–nor did he edit his piece–but it is utterly incorrect to say that the pope identifed “gay marriage” was a threat to the future of humanity. He did not. He said certain policies that undermined the family were threats to humanity, but identifying them is left open. There is a reason for that–the pope and the his speechwriters are not idiots–and good reporting should acknowledge it.

Reuters, of course, has to sell stories, and plenty of papers picked this one up. Too bad, because it doesn’t do the pope or journalism justice.

– US Catholic

In context, the simple phrase “family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman” is as mild an endorsement of “traditional” marriage as he could have gotten away with. For that, we should be thankful.

In the midst of strenuous local battles against marriage equality by some bishops, there are many encouraging signs that in some quarters, influential people are rethinking the issue. We are not yet ready for the day when a newly elected pope will introduce her wife to the crowds in St Peter’s Square – but it could still come.

Related Posts:

Pope Benedict’s Strong Argument for Gay Marriage, Queer Families.

Pope Benedict’s Remarkable Silence on Homosexuality

The Return of the Anti-Gay Crusade, or a More Listening Church?

Polling Evidence: The Gay Marriage Conundrum, for GOP and Catholic Bishops

Queer Families: A Personal, Catholic Case For Gay Marriage

Prejudice, Discrimination Are NOT Catholic Values

The Transformation of Christian Responses to Homoerotic Love

 

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For a Queer Christmas – Send Gay / Lesbian Cards.

Advent begins this week, and with it the season for shopping.
For all Christians, this time of year can be difficult, with tension to negotiated, between Advent as a solemn season of preparation for the important Christian festival of Christmas, and the purely secular festive season leading up to the winter solstice, which marks the mid-point of winter’s darkness and gloom.
For Christian sexual minorities (including the many straight singles and childless couples) there is an additional difficulty – the relentless emphasis in both church and stores on children and family. Kittredge Cherry at Jesus in Love Blog has come up with an ingenious way to counter this. Send your friends gay or lesbian themed Nativity cards. Love, after all, makes a family.

(I like Kitt’s use of the term “Nativity” card – the word “Christmas” has been as much distorted and misused as the festival.)
Read her original post at Jesus in Love Blog, where she makes an important point: we must remember that in the traditional Nativity story, the biological details of the birth are extraordinary. Is the idea of a same sex couple procreating any more extraordinary than the Virgin birth?
To that, I would add the observation by the Catholic theologians Salzmann & Lawler, in “The Sexual Person”: procreation refers not only to the physical production of an infant, but also the the subsequent care and nurturing of the child.  Procreation by same-sex couples is not nearly as far-fetched as some people would have us believe.

Order your nativity cards from the “Jesus in Love Card Shop

New Study: Gay Parents = Great Kids

New Study: Gay Parents = Great Kids

Let’s see, so far, California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage has been found to be unconstitutional, unnecessary (or did we miss the collapse of traditional marriage in Massachusetts, Connecticut or the four other jurisdictions in which same-sex marriage is legal?) and just plain bad for the wedding reception industry. Now comes word, courtesy of the journal Family Process, that it’s also bad for kids.A new study by family therapist Arlene Istar Lev shows that children of gay and lesbian individuals and couples are actually better adjusted and have fewer social problems than peers raised by heterosexuals. Before Prop 8–lovers charge reverse bias, there’s a simple explanation for the phenomenon: gay and lesbian parents feel pressure to try harder, lest any shortcomings in their kids be taken as a sign of their inadequacy as parents.
Paradoxically, it may even be harder for the kids of non-straight parents to come out as gay or lesbian themselves. Why? “There is an assumption that the optimal outcome is to produce heterosexual children,” Lev says. “Gay parents may struggle with having gay or transgender children…because of the societal pressure they feel to raise ‘normal’ children.” One more reason for the culture warriors to tend their own gardens and let other parents — gay or straight — tend theirs.
Read more: Time, Healthland

“Practicing Safer Texts”: The Bible and Sexuality, Homosexuality

As gay men, we all know about the importance of practicing safe sex. When it comes to the Bible and sexuality, especially homosexuality, Ken Stone says we must practice safe texts, too. I regret that I have not yet had a chance to read this book and cannot comment personally on its quality, but the advice in the title is sound. We must read and respond to isolated Bible verses with extreme care. Failure to do so can be dangerous to our mental, emotional and spiritual health. “Everybody” knows that the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality as an abomination, goes the popular wisdom, which in turns fuels the opposition to LGBT equality and gay marriage, and at worst encourages prejudice, discrimination, bullying – and even murder. The popular wisdom is wrong.

At Newsweek, Lisa Miller introduces her discussion of two new books by Jennifer Wright Knust and Michael Coogan with an important reminder: the Bible devotes an entire book to a clear celebration of human sexuality, without any consideration of procreation or even permanent commitment and fidelity:

The poem describes two young lovers aching with desire. The obsession is mutual, carnal, complete. The man lingers over his lover’s eyes and hair, on her teeth, lips, temples, neck, and breasts, until he arrives at “the mount of myrrh.” He rhapsodizes. “All of you is beautiful, my love,” he says. “There is no flaw in you.”

The girl returns his lust with lust. “My lover thrust his hand through the hole,” she says, “and my insides groaned because of him.”

This frank Biblical erotica has too often been overshadowed in religious discussion of biblical sexuality by the modern puritanical perceptions of biblical sexual ethics.  These modern perceptions are a severe distortion. Miller writes:


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What does the Bible really say about sex? Two new books written by university scholars for a popular audience try to answer this question. Infuriated by the dominance in the public sphere of conservative Christians who insist that the Bible incontrovertibly supports sex within the constraints of “traditional marriage,” these authors attempt to prove otherwise. Jennifer Wright Knust and Michael Coogan mine the Bible for its earthiest and most inexplicable tales about sex—Jephthah, who sacrifices his virgin daughter to God; Naomi and Ruth, who vow to love one another until death—to show that the Bible’s teachings on sex are not as coherent as the religious right would have people believe. In Knust’s reading, the Song of Solomon is a paean to unmarried sex, outside the conventions of family and community. “I’m tired,” writes Knust in Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire, “of watching those who are supposed to care about the Bible reduce its stories and teachings to slogans.” Her book comes out this month. Coogan’s book God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says was released last fall.

Some conservative commentators are outraged. “You cannot selectively twist the Bible to suit your purpose” is a common response – which completely overlooks the fact that this is precisely what the defenders of “traditional marriage, as found in the Bible” are doing all the time. The popular conception of “traditional marriage” is a relatively modern invention, very far removed from sexual ethics of the bible – as found in the actual text, and not in some befuddled pseudo-religious imaginations.

To really get to grips with biblical views on sexuality, “practicing safer texts”, requires proper study and reflection. Scholars who have done this have been reconsidering the traditional presentation for decades. Jennifer Knust (a professor of religion and an ordained Baptist pastor) and Michael Coogan (who trained as a Jesuit priest) have taken what is now common parlance among some academics, and made it more accessible to a wider audience.

For those who have followed the re-evaluation of  the bible’s supposed pronouncements on homosexuality in particular, it is easy to recount the counters to the half-dozen or so clobber texts, or “texts of terror”, on Robert Goss’s phrase. What I like about the accounts of these books, is that they move beyond the arguments around specific verses, and on to a more holistic view of Scripture as a whole, and approaches to its overriding message – strictly in accordance with the Pontifical Bible Commission guidance on biblical interpretation, with its emphasis on context – of the passage and the entire bible, as well as the historical conditions, the modern context, and with a careful eye to linguistic accuracy and literary conventions :

The Bible contains a “pervasive patriarchal bias,” Coogan writes. Better to elide the specifics and read the Bible for its teachings on love, compassion, and forgiveness. Taken as a whole, “the Bible can be understood as the record of the beginning of a continuous movement toward the goal of full freedom and equality for all persons.”

It is a discussion of the literary conventions that produces the greatest surprise for me: Coogan’s claim that Biblical language may use the term “foot” as a euphemism for genitals. This recognition leads to some completely novel and surprising perspectives on familiar passages:

When biblical authors wanted to talk about genitals, they sometimes talked about “hands,” as in the Song of Solomon, and sometimes about “feet.” Coogan cites one passage in which a baby is born “between a mother’s feet”; and another, in which the prophet Isaiah promises that a punitive God will shave the hair from the Israelites’ heads, chins, and “feet.” When, in the Old Testament, Ruth anoints herself and lies down after dark next to Boaz—the man she hopes to make her husband—she “uncovers his feet.” A startled Boaz awakes. “Who are you?” he asks. Ruth identifies herself and spends the night “at his feet.”

However, it can also lead to some dangerous traps for the unwary:

When he is teaching to college students, he writes, someone inevitably asks about the scene in Luke, in which a woman kisses and washes Jesus’ feet—and then dries them with her hair. Is that author speaking about “feet”? Or feet? “As both modern and ancient elaborations suggest,” Coogan writes, “sexual innuendo may be present.” Scholars agree that in this case, a foot was probably just a foot.

Newsweek, What the Bible Really Says About Sex

We all know that “The Bible” is widely used as a cover to oppose legal protections for LGBT equality, or for full inclusion in church. Too often, as Candace Chellew Hodge points out, these arguments are made by people who have not actually read the bible, or if they have, they have, they have made not attempt to understand it with due consideration of its meaning, in the full scriptural, literary and historical context.

Over at Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link, blogger Jenny Tyree isn’t surprised at Ms. Bush and Ms. McCain’s support for marriage equality. “It’s rather easy for 20-somethings—or millennials—to jump on the very tidy-looking ‘rights’ bandwagon that proponents of same-sex marriage have made marriage to be,’ she writes, rightly observing that the majority of people aged 18-29 support marriage equality.

What these darn kids are missing, Tyree says, is a real appreciation of biblical marriage. Instead, they’ve grown up “breathing air thick with a cultural disregard for marriage. Experiencing the personal benefit of having a married mom and dad doesn’t change what they witnessed—willful divorces and the suffering of the children of divorce. The result is a generational embrace of sex as a right and marriage as one of many lifestyles, rather than as the best family structure for children and a stabilizing force for society.”

-Candace Chellew-Hodge, Religion Dispatches

Chellew-Hodge goes on to point out (quite correctly )that what these people are proposing is emphatically not the supposed destruction of marriage and family, but its strengthening – by extending its protection and coverage to all families.

She also goes on to report on a Knust’s book, saying that it beautifully counters the tired argument that same-sex marriage undermines “biblical marriage”. Marriage in the Bible takes many forms. Which variety, exactly, are the defenders of “traditional” marriage thinking of?

When one actually reads the Bible (something a majority of “traditional marriage” supporters have obviously not done), one finds a myriad of models for marriage—most of them involving one man and many women—and all of those women are property of the man they are married to. Women were subservient to men in every way and had no voice or rights of their own. By the time we arrive at the Christian scriptures, we find Jesus openly discouraging marriage for his followers, requiring them to leave their families and follow him exclusively.

“From Jesus’ perspective, then,” Knust writes, “the family is made up of fellow believers, not kin with formal ties outsiders might recognize.”

Saying that one supports “biblical marriage” then is to say that one supports polygamy, or owning women, or leaving one’s family altogether and dedicating one’s life exclusively to following Christ. What millennials like Ms. Bush and Ms. McCain understand is that the tradition of marriage has evolved into a more inclusive institution encompassing mixed race marriages, and non-procreative marriages. Marriage today is not a matter of familial arrangements to enlarge land holdings or status. Marriage today is about the love and commitment between two people—as well as the government perks bestowed on the couple. Adding gays and lesbians to the mix does nothing to weaken marriage—it’s simply another evolution away from “biblical marriage” that was more about property rights than love.

Biblical marriage, according to Knust, looked like this: “women belong to men; male honor is tied, in part, to how well men supervise the women in their care; and men demonstrate their wealth and success by the number of legitimate wives and children they are able to acquire.”

Actually, given religious right preaching about how men are the head of the household and women are subject to the rule of the man, perhaps the religious right does believe in “Biblical marriage” after all.

At CNN, Jennifer Knust herself elaborates on the bible and homosexuality in particular, rebutting a key argument against gay marriage – that God created two distinct sexes. In fact, she points out, in the earliest versions of the creation story, it was accepted that the original human was androgynous:

We often hears that Christians have no choice but to regard homosexuality as a sin– that Scripture simply demands it.

As a Bible scholar and pastor myself, I say that Scripture does no such thing.

“I love gay people, but the Bible forces me to condemn them” is a poor excuse that attempts to avoid accountability by wrapping a very particular and narrow interpretation of a few biblical passages in a cloak of divinely inspired respectability.

Truth is, Scripture can be interpreted in any number of ways. And biblical writers held a much more complicated view of human sexuality than contemporary debates have acknowledged.

In Genesis, for example, it would seem that God’s original intention for humanity was androgyny, not sexual differentiation and heterosexuality.

Genesis includes two versions of the story of God’s creation of the human person. First, God creates humanity male and female and then God forms the human person again, this time in the Garden of Eden. The second human person is given the name Adam and the female is formed from his rib.

Ancient Christians and Jews explained this two-step creation by imagining that the first human person possessed the genitalia of both sexes. Then, when the androgynous, dually-sexed person was placed in the garden, s/he was divided in two.

According to this account, the man “clings to the woman” in an attempt to regain half his flesh, which God took from him once he was placed in Eden. As third century Rabbi Samuel bar Nahman explained, when God created the first man, God created him with two faces. “Then he split the androgyne and made two bodies, one on each side, and turned them about.”

When the apostle Paul envisioned the bodies that would be given to humanity at the end of time, he imagined that they would be androgynous, “not male and female.” The third-century non-canonical Gospel of Philip, meanwhile, lamented that sexual difference had been created at all: “If the female had not separated from the male, she and the male would not die. That being’s separation became the source of death.”

From these perspectives, God’s original plan was sexual unity in one body, not two. The Genesis creation stories can support the notion that sexual intercourse is designed to reunite male and female into one body, but they can also suggest that God’s blessing was first placed on an undifferentiated body that didn’t have sex at all.

Jennifer Knust, CNN Religion Blogs

I do not propose that my readers should simply adopt the views expressed above simply on the strength of some third-hand reports of books that I have not yet had the opportunity to read myself. Biblical exegesis is a tricky matter for those of us without proper training. As the critics of these books are quick to point out, we do need to be guided in our interpretations of the texts by reliable scholarship. What the critics overlook though, is that scholarship itself is no longer supporting the traditional interpretations.

Ever since the early pioneers like Canon Derrick Sherwin Bailey, scholars who have re examined the evidence with an open mind have found that the traditional assumptions about the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality are unfounded. Bayley was followed by the historian John Boswell, with a chapter on scripture in Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, and the detailed analysis by the Episcopal theologian William Countryman. This early trickle of works demonstrating the flaws in the traditional misinterpretations has become a flood, so that those denominations which have set up formal study programs have agreed that there is at the very least substantial room for disagreement. This is why we are now seeing a strong movement towards accepting even the ordination of openly gay or lesbian clergy, and even same sex weddings, in the US Mainline Protestant and European Lutheran churches. This re-evaluation by scholars and religious professionals, however, has not yet reached the popular mainstream, not in any significant numbers.

These latest additions to the range of available titles are welcome, and deserve to be widely read and reflected on.

Books:

Bailey. Derrick Sherwin: Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition

Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century

Coogan, Michael:God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says

Countryman, William L: Dirt, Greed and Sex

Helminiak, Daniel: What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality

Knust, Jennifer WrightUnprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire

Rogers, Jack :Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality, Revised and Expanded Edition: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church

Stone, KenPracticing Safer Texts: Food, Sex and Bible in Queer Perspective

Thelos, Phil: Divine Sex: Liberating Sex from Religious Tradition

My Related articles

Related articles elsewhere

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New York Catholics Support Gay Marriage

Barbara Bush’s public support for gay marriage has garnered a lot of press attention over the past week. Reporting on this the Washington Post has drawn my attention to another finding that should have drawn more attention. Alongside the number of Republican politicians and Evangelical Christians who are breaking ranks with their traditional opposition and starting to support equality, the majority of US (and European) Catholics have already parted company with their bishops on the matter. This has been demonstrated in several polls in recent years, at national level, and in state level polls, as in Rhode Island.
When I read and reported on the recent finding of the Quinnipiac poll that a majority of New Yorkers now support full legal recognition of same sex marriages, I neglected to follow through on my usual practice of checking the cross-tabs for a breakdown by religion. This was a mistake. (In mitigation, I plead that I was under intense pressure  for time last week). As the Washington Post has now observed, the national pattern is found in New York, too.  An absolute majority of New York Catholics support full marriage (not simply civil unions). As the paper’s report notes in its concluding remark, “Republican and Catholic leaders may find themselves increasingly out of touch with the rhythm and blues that are moving their constituents and congregants on these issues”.
For how much longer can bishops, in the US or elsewhere, get away with claiming to speak for “Catholics” on such matters (or, in the Philippines), it is patently obvious that they are not speaking of the real beliefs or real Catholics, but only for Vatican doctrine and the rule book Catholics who would prefer to get their ideas from a moral manual, without personal thought or reflection?

recent survey of New York registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University found that a solid majority (56%) now say they would support a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry. Less than 4-in-10 (37%) New York voters say they would oppose the law. Views on same-sex marriage in New York state have shifted significantly since Quinnipiac first gauged voter sentiment on the issue in April 2004, when a solid majority of New Yorkers opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry (55% to 37%).
One other surprise was the poll’s finding that a majority (52%) of New York Catholic voters support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Six-in-ten Jewish voters in New York also support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while Protestant voters are evenly divided (46% support, 48% oppose).
New York voters overall register significantly higher levels of support for same-sex marriage than registered voters nationally. Among voters nationally, 46% support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 51% who oppose (PRRI American Values Survey 2010). New York Catholic voters’ views, on the other hand, are consistent with the fellow Catholic voters nationwide, among whom 53% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 44% who are opposed.
These surprises suggest that Republican and Catholic leaders may find themselves increasingly out of touch with the rhythm and blues that are moving their constituents and congregants on these issues.
Washington Post, “On Faith”

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For a Queer Christmas – Send Gay / Lesbian Cards.

Advent begins this week, and with it the season for shopping.
For all Christians, this time of year can be difficult, with tension to negotiated, between Advent as a solemn season of preparation for the important Christian festival of Christmas, and the purely secular festive season leading up to the winter solstice, which marks the mid-point of winter’s darkness and gloom.
For Christian sexual minorities (including the many straight singles and childless couples) there is an additional difficulty – the relentless emphasis in both church and stores on children and family. Kittredge Cherry at Jesus in Love Blog has come up with an ingenious way to counter this. Send your friends gay or lesbian themed Nativity cards. Love, after all, makes a family.

(I like Kitt’s use of the term “Nativity” card – the word “Christmas” has been as much distorted and misused as the festival.)

Read her original post at Jesus in Love Blog, where she makes an important point: we must remember that in the traditional Nativity story, the biological details of the birth are extraordinary. Is the idea of a same sex couple procreating any more extraordinary than the Virgin birth?

To that, I would add the observation by the Catholic theologians Salzmann & Lawler, in “The Sexual Person”: procreation refers not only to the physical production of an infant, but also the the subsequent care and nurturing of the child.  Procreation by same-sex couples is not nearly as far-fetched as some people would have us believe.

Order your nativity cards from the ?Jesus in Love Card Shop?.