For people who talk so much about morality, the divine and transcendence, believers sure do find a way to make the church and religion look more and more like the man-made, carnal institutions that they are.
Although New York Times op-ed contributor Alan Cowell doesn’t break any new ground with his headline, “A Church Diverted by Issues of Sexuality and Gender,” his article does, once again, highlight just a few of the ways the church as an institution is positively obsessed with sex, sexuality and what happens in bedrooms once the doors are closed. He notes that last month,
the Church of England voted — narrowly and against the judgment of its priests and bishops — to reject the notion of women’s joining the episcopate, even though the titular supreme governor of the church is a woman: Queen Elizabeth II.
In January, the bishops themselves followed up with a potentially epochal ruling admitting openly gay priests in civil partnerships to their ranks, provided that, unlike heterosexual bishops, they remain celibate.
So, in the latter case, in other words, it is perfectly OK to be a gay bishop; you just have to give up sex as a consequence. Of course one has to wonder, as a person in the article pointed out, how does the church intend to police this stipulation? Video cameras in every bishop bedroom? Every bathroom stall? Every confessional?
Cowell also noted that he recently visited a small church in the northern part of London, and sex was not mentioned at all, leading to this conclusion:
That contrast between the congregants’ modesty and the issues of gender and sexuality absorbing church leaders seems to underline a sense that the Anglican elite and the rank-and-file churchgoers have, like the scriptural Magi after visiting with the infant Jesus, left by different routes.
It could be argued that the congregants themselves are in a kind of denial, reciting their prayers by rote in search of redemption and turning away from themes inspired by Britain’s changing society.
He ends by highlighting some stats that he deemed “ominous” about the state of religion in Wales and England from 2011.
While Christianity remained the dominant faith, the percentage of the 56 million population calling itself Christian fell to 59.3 percent from 71.7 percent over a decade, while other religions, particularly Islam, burgeoned. And the proportion of people professing no religious faith at all increased to 25.1 percent from 14.8 percent.
Millions of people, in other words, dropped out of Christianity and embraced atheism or agnosticism — surely a more ominous trend than the gender or sexuality of any of them.
Actually what appears “ominous” to me is the church’s approach to sex in the first place. The reason, I would wager, that more and more people are leaving faith is that, for one reason, Christianity’s leaders, especially at the Vatican, appear as if they are just making up religious doctrine and law as they go along, the new and ridiculous rules I just mentioned not the least among them. I mean, seriously, the church just can’t make up its mind whether God really loves everyone — like you know, literally, and not in some kind of weird symbolic way — and hence the church should except gay people for who they are, or whether we should “hate the sin but not the sinner” or whether God really does want all gays stoned to death as per the Bible.
Take the case of the Pope‘s esteemed decision to change policy on unbaptized children. For hundreds of years, these unfortunate little ones were exiled to purgatory or limbo or … whatever. Well — hey presto! — forward to the year 2007, and Joseph Ratzinger decides out of the blue that these infants may actually be able to go to heaven after all. I say “out of the blue” because Vatican officials backed this decision based on “extensive theological research” apparently unavailable to every other God-inspired Pope through the Vatican’s long history. This is the kind of gobbledygook that begins to weigh on people after awhile. I mean, people can be compelled to believe all kinds of fairy tales if their eternal soul is on the line, but the constant bickering and infighting among folks of the same religion and endless rerouting of policies and agendas does not bode well for a religion that takes its answers from an all-knowing, awe-inspiring god. If only God would give the faithful a new revelation to clear up some of these policy matters and make it abundantly clear where the almighty stands on gay marriage, purgatory, abortion, stem cell research, condoms in Africa, burning witches, enslaving humans and religious crusading.
Only if …