One of the corollaries of my last post is: given that the church has the authority to decide what is right and what is not right (the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven) – how are we to do make such a determination?
This is simply ‘the question of truth’ – that is, the truth shall set us free, nothing that is true is foreign to Jesus, so the pursuit of truth is something that necessarily leads us into the light. This does not mean that ‘truth’ as a construct can be placed in an antagonistic relationship to the gospel, in order that one must be defeated. It is more a question of humility and willingness to be challenged.
One of the most ignored instructions from the infamous Lambeth Conference of 1998 was surely the injunction to listen to the homosexual Christian community about their understandings and experience. It is not possible to listen in the relevant sense if there is an irrevocable commitment to “you are a sinner”. However, if listening is genuinely entered into, then so does the Holy Spirit – and together, the truth of a situation becomes discernible.
One of the best books that I have read on this subject is Gareth Moore’s “A Question of Truth”. He makes the argument there that it is not good enough to appeal to authority. If we believe – as Christians have always maintained that they do believe – in a God of order and reason, then that reason and order is open to an appreciation by the community. This is what drives the theological question. In his book, Moore slowly takes apart the standard Roman Catholic dogma and simply points out that ‘this is not true’.
So for my purposes, this is another foundational plank in the overall argument. If we are to come to a proper understanding of the nature of Christian marriage, appeals to authority are insufficient, however important the authority may be (and it is not an accident that I began this sequence with Jesus’ own teaching). We must be able to demonstrate the truth of our position.
To that end, I will in due course be drawing on contemporary scientific research about sexuality. If anyone wants a hint as to what sort of thing I’ll be using, have a look at this book.