Confronting or Appeasing SSA?
Vicky Beeching is someone who I has not escaped my attention in the past, she has been a rather prominent Christian voice on T.V. etc. In 2014 after she had "come out" I commented that she appears to be a person with sincere faith who has achieved a degree of success and in that context has tried to explain away the relationship between a modern secular society which makes sense to her, and Christianity.
If anything, her over-apologetic style is what has frustrated me before as lacking in confidence of the Gospel message and, in the context of my re-reading of Humani generis a little while ago (see here) which states in no's 10 - 12:
it is apparent, however, that some today, as in apostolic times, desirous of novelty, and fearing to be considered ignorant of recent scientific findings, try to withdraw themselves from the sacred Teaching Authority and are accordingly in danger of gradually departing from revealed truth and of drawing others along with them into error.
There are many who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate an "eirenism" according to which, by setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma. And as in former times some questioned whether the traditional apologetics of the Church did not constitute an obstacle rather than a help to the winning of souls for Christ, so today some are presumptive enough to question seriously whether theology and theological methods, such as with the approval of ecclesiastical authority are found in our schools, should not only be perfected, but also completely reformed, in order to promote the more efficacious propagation of the kingdom of Christ everywhere throughout the world among men of every culture and religious opinion.
Now if these only aimed at adapting ecclesiastical teaching and methods to modern conditions and requirements, through the introduction of some new explanations, there would be scarcely any reason for alarm. But some through enthusiasm for an imprudent "eirenism" seem to consider as an obstacle to the restoration of fraternal union, things founded on the laws and principles given by Christ and likewise on institutions founded by Him, or which are the defense and support of the integrity of the faith, and the removal of which would bring about the union of all, but only to their destruction.So the principle of compromise, even when laudably intended towards reconciliation can only be destructive when it sets itself against the fundamental revealed truths of our faith. With that in mind, it is absolutely no surprise to find out she is Same Sex Attracted. Years of pushing at boundaries has shown her up as a person uncomfortable within her own evangelical skin, to me it is a clear case of making God in your own image, confirmed by the subject matter of her doctoral thesis at Durham which is the theology of human sexuality; specifically, what the Biblical texts actually say about same-sex relationships/marriage.
Vicky, now a darling of the regressive establishment, has a new book out which is reviewed in an open letter by David Robertson here. Robertson has some very apposite observations.
My major issue with this situation is that what we are seeing now is people who are "coming out" as having given-in to a pernicious sexual sin which has consistently been condemned by the Church at large. These people are saying that this is who they are and people have to deal with it. The Catholic Church very clearly teaches on this issue that although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.
Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not. It is a sin and telling someone who is engaged in sinful activity that what they are doing is wrong is not "phobic" or "judgemental" it is giving proper care for that person according to their ontological reality.
Robertson puts it to Vicky like this:
You speak about the church as being responsible for doctrines you imply you no longer agree with – apparently it was the ‘church’ (the evangelical one which you are now rejecting) not the bible which taught that sex before marriage was wrong, that pornography was wrong, that married pastors who had affairs should be fired. Do you now accept these things as legitimate? How far down the socially progressive rabbit hole have you gone? You seem to have bought into the complete ‘regressive’ package (the church is always behind the times and needs to become more like society, the bible is not the infallible word of God etc. – you even add a footnote to the book apologising for using male pronouns for God!).
Vicky we don’t disagree with you because of your sexual orientation, but rather because of your theological orientation.
Vicky's book ultimately offer nothing in the way of hope, and betrays a very poor understanding of the Christian message, sinking merely to the level of contemporary secular truisms:
What is crucial, though, is this: we need to love and accept who we are. It’s about making peace with ourselves. ….. It’s a heart-warming reminder that God longs for us to simply be ourselves.This is the sort of anti-Christian rhetoric that I hear spouted from the Pastor of our own Youth Service here in Brentwood Diocese. Robertson describes this platitude as the reminder of a lie.
The primary thing is to make peace with God – not with ourselves. God does not ‘long for us simply to be ourselves’. He longs for us to be holy – and our ‘selves’ are sinful. In the name of the Gospel you have stated precisely the opposite of the Gospel. Even in secular terms it doesn’t make sense. What if my ‘self’ is racist? Homophobic? Abusive? Does your principle that ‘God longs for us simply to be ourselves’ still apply?
The Christian faith is not a stick with which to beat struggling sinners, but the hospital that treats those sinners. We all sin and we all need the medicine. But the challenge that Christ offers at the very beginning of His public ministry is not to except everyone in their diversity -- it is a call to repentance and to change. A call to change our lives and to strive for holiness. The temptation to fit in with the times is strong, and standing against the world; being "counter-cultural" has always been the nature of Christianity which is in the world whilst not being of the world:
live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.
Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself."
From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)
We don't have to fail in our compassion to be honest about sexual morality and the Church asks the same for all of us: that we use the gift of our sexuality solely in the context of a sacramental Marriage and in a way that is open to life.