CAN we, ethically speaking, do anything about our sexual urges, or are we so to say conditioned to behave in particular ways? In the great Anglican debate about Issues in Human Sexuality (to adopt a phrase) it is becoming increasingly difficult to discover what answer liberals give to this increasingly pressing question.
In the case of male–female relations of course, they are Nurturists. They are convinced that the habits and patterns of all previous societies have been repressive towards women and that, apart from basic biological functions, gender characteristics are socially conditioned and can be altered at will. Men and women, it has been said, are the same things with different fittings.
This is a convenient argument which gives ample scope to the male conspiracy theory beloved of the radical feminists. On that view even chivalry (previously seen as a male code protecting women) becomes a weapon of oppression. But every orthodoxy has its heretics. And in this case the heretics are gay men.
They are, to a person, Naturists. God loves me as I am because he made me like this. The strong suit of Gene Robinson is that he gave up the unequal struggle against his nature (a marriage during which he begat two daughters) and courageously embraced his natural destiny, in his case a man called Mark.
‘I am what I am’ goes the rather tacky torch song. But with Gene it has been elevated into a theological principle. Sex with Mark is for Gene a fulfilment of his natural destiny and of the Divine Plan. He does not hesitate to call it ‘sacramental’. How very far, you will say, from the life of our own Jeffrey John. But no matter.
Truth to tell, Fr Robinson’s vindication of his adultery is unique only in its theological conclusions. Bishop Richard Holloway (along with Dr John and Dr Williams, a founding father of Affirming Catholicism) has explained that men are promiscuous by nature: it is in their genes. So it is absurd to get hung up about sexual ethics. Better accept rather than repress that about which you can do nothing.
The rest of us can only watch these soi-disant heavy-weights slog it out, and doubt whether theological liberalism will ever be able to sing from the same song sheet.