frgavin on August 13th, 2008

LAMBETH: Psychiatrist Pinpoints Sexuality Struggles in Church & Family

By Lisa Guinness

Thank you for your attention; because this afternoon is not fringe at all but a vital part of the listening and dialogue said to be the essence of the Lambeth Conference.

A Revolution Ecclesiastes 4 v 1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are practised under the sun: And behold the tears of the oppressed, And they had no one to comfort them On the side of their oppressors there was power, And there was no one to comfort them.

So a revolution is always to cast off a restraint – real or perceived. The purpose is to bring down an institution and create a new freedom in its place.

But in the fall out, there are always casualties and prisoners and the infrastructure, necessary for ordinary life, often gets damaged or destroyed.

The full cost and the supposed benefits only become apparent later.

The institutions in question here were the family and the church.

The Family Sadly in the western world this had been reduced to the nuclear variety without the ancient possibilities of community, rites of passage, a host of relationships and mentoring that were present in a tribal or extended family model. As the social fragmentation started to bite and the walls closed in on the 2.4 children at home alone; so the new possibilities of sexual freedom due to contraception and social freedom of new job opportunities kicked in. A generation of confident independent under 30s did not need God and were proud of their ability to cast off restraint.

Ephesians 3 speaks of all the families on earth emanating from God the Father so what are some of the key elements of family that we have lost in the revolution. They may have seemed confining then, but were in fact the necessary order from which real freedom could flow.

God’s original intention is that two adults should have been mature enough to leave their father and mother and cleave to each other in a covenant relationship.

1. Leaving : father and mother being mature enough both sides
2. Cleaving: covenant commitment that gives the security for dynamic evolving personhood c.f. moving on when the going gets tough
3. Procreation: with even more possibilities for evolving personhood with the opportunities to mature into motherhood and fatherhood
4. The family circle bringing more and more possibilities of relationship and becoming.
5. Undergirding this is the presence of the creator, redeemer God so in casting off the restraint of the family, we secured our absolute independence, becoming as god, but without His wisdom

Then the fall out starts to happen as we inflict primal wounds on our children and relationships become uncommitted and therefore indulgent with less and less possibility of being intimate or stable.

This Revolution and The Church One effect of this independence, felt by the church, was a desire also to be allowed to do what was right in one’s own eyes.

Another was, as the church presumed that because it felt powerless and contaminated by the sexual revolution that God was too. Best to pretend that nothing is happening. The challenge is too great and too messy. Another strand was a crisis of confidence in power of the Cross and a sense of shame at needing a Saviour.

Which is odd when I am not ashamed to call in a plumber for a dodgy ball cock or take my car to the garage for a service. I have never yet been told by the mechanic that I should have been able to fix the brake pads myself – rather I have been commended for dealing with such a potentially dangerous defect. What havoc am I reeking in my relationships from all my unhealed places! Owning issues of sexuality became very difficult to do in some areas of the church – especially if the church felt it had nothing meaningful to offer.

So what of The Cross Does it have any power? Does it effect any real salvation for the personal and domestic issues in our lives? the hurts and losses, the shame, the confusion, any freedom from the people we need to forgive? Is there any justice or restoration of our full personhood this side of heaven?

Or is the Cross just a symbol or impotent theological concept and there is no hope of change or peace or honour in this the mortal phase of our eternal life?

Because if the Cross has no power then there is no hope of effective pastoral care or salvation, in its true sense of healing, and we are of all people to be pitied. **

And in our hopelessness we will be very tempted to reinterpret Scripture or leave it behind completely and become those with the appearance of godliness but denying its power. (2 Tim 3 v 5)

Hebrews 12: describes a key progression See to it that: who knows where this is happening in a fragmented and values personal privacy above true fellowship and accountability. no one misses out on the grace of God -> no root of bitterness grows up in you and causes you trouble ( and we know how much of our behaviours are to assuage the pressure and frustration of disappointment and bitterness) – > no one is sexually immoral -> no one goes for instant gratification like Esau who sold the blessing of his sonship for a bowl of soup.

How many of us have anyone close enough to know if this is happening? Especially where we value of privacy above true fellowship.

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