Archbishop Calls for Listening and Unity

Archbishop Calls for Listening and Unity Justin Welby Appeals to General Synod Before Vital Debate The Archbishop of Canterbury has appealed to General Synod for greater listening and unity. He addressed the membership ahead of their three-day gathering, expected to...

Anglican Myth #3: The Bishop is the Focus of Unity

Anglican Futures Anglican Myth #3: The Bishop is the Focus of Unity "Plural Truth", "Walking Together", call it what you like, in the Archbishop of Canterbury's understanding of the church, God no longer speaks clearly through the Scriptures, instead he speaks through...

St Helen’s Bishopsgate “Pauses Contributions to Common Fund”

St Helen’s Bishopsgate “Pauses Contributions to Common Fund” The Standing Committee of the PCC of St Helen’s Bishopsgate has written to the Bishop of London to make plain their theological opposition to the proposed same-sex blessings proffered by the House of...

Hull Parish Rejects Authority of Archbishop of York Over False Teaching

Hull Parish Rejects Authority of Archbishop of York Over False Teaching St Andrew’s Kirk Ella has written a very direct letter to the Archbishop of York about his support for the same-sex blessings proposals.  In the letter, they pull no punches and announce that with...

Barnabas Fund Report: African Hospitals Give Thanks for PPE as Ebola Breaks Out in Uganda

Barnabas Fund Report African Hospitals Give Thanks for PPE as Ebola Breaks Out in Uganda Christian hospitals in Africa have given heartfelt thanks for a huge consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) shipped by Barnabas Aid’s programme. “We want...

His Majesty’s Declaration Pertaining to the Use and Understanding the Articles of Religion

His Majesty’s Declaration Pertaining to the Use and Understanding the Articles of Religion Words do have meaning and particularly when they pertain to how we are to understand the doctrines of the Church.  In an earlier era, under a different monarch named Charles,...

Keene Review: Finding Your Best Identity

Finding Your Best Identity A short Christian introduction to identity, sexuality and gender Andrew Bunt IVP, 2022 (ISBN: 9781789744200, 90pp, £8.99)   The most casual glance at biblical passages such as Matthew 6 or 1 John 2 indicates that ‘the world’ is entirely...

CEEC Calls for Action

CEEC Calls for Action  Offers the Church of England a Better Way Forward After failing to provide a quick substantive answer to the Blessings Proposals  by the House of Bishops, the CEEC has responded in a very clear way in stating its opposition to what has been...

Thomas Cromwell: The Man Behind the Curtain

Thomas Cromwell The Man Behind the Curtain By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins So many “Thomases” in the 16th century, it’s hard to keep them straight! Thomas Cromwell was beheaded July 28, 1540 by order of King Henry VIII for the crime of treason and heresy, but his real...

New Bishop for Complementarian Churches Consecrated

New Bishop for Complementarian Churches Consecrated The Revd Rob Munro was consecrated as Bishop of Ebbsfleet on Thursday 2 February in a service at Canterbury Cathedral.   In keeping with the complementarian understanding of ministry, Bishop Munro was consecrated to...

Prudence Dailey’s Commentary: Should the Church be Talking More, not Less, About Sex?

Prudence Dailey’s Commentary

Should the Church be Talking More, not Less, About Sex?

Please don’t rush to cancel your subscription to The English Churchman until you hear me out; but I’m currently reading a feminist book, and it’s rather good.

I don’t routinely read such literature; but this particular volume has been widely recommended by Christian, and especially evangelical, friends, so I decided it was worth a look. Its title is The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, and its author, Louise Perry—a young married mother—writes, inter alia, for the New Statesman. Coming originally from the left, Perry now defies standard political categories, preferring to think for herself: she has been hailed as a truly original thinker, and has said—accurately, I am sure—that there will be something in the book for everyone to disagree with. This is not going to be a review as such—apart from anything else, I have not yet finished the book!—but I shall pick up on some of themes the author examines.

While Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady may have demanded ‘Why can’t a woman be more like a man?’, Perry points out that two generations of both men and women have been deceived into thinking that that differences between the sexes are merely superficial and physical, and we are all the same from the neck up. (Inconsistently, many of those making such arguments are often the same people who claim that it is possible to be a man trapped in a woman’s body, or vice versa; but that is, perhaps, a discussion for another day.) When a woman gets pregnant, her body is all in for nine months: she is therefore wired for commitment, both mentally and physically. She soon discovers that—unlike her average male counterpart—she cannot at will decouple fleeting sexual encounters from her emotions; and she is left (literally) holding the baby when conception does occur. In encouraging women to behave like unrestrained men, and in weakening the bonds of marriage, the sexual revolution has been especially damaging for women, Perry argues (and not too great for men either).

Perry is not a Christian, and some of her views clearly differ from orthodox Christian belief: she is, for example, not opposed to abortion, and suggests saying ‘no’ to sex for the first three months of dating (rather than until marriage). She does, nevertheless, acknowledge the importance of Christian morality in laying the foundations of social stability, to the benefit of women and children especially. It is hard to overestimate the radicalism of her arguments in today’s secular context, and yet she is being taken seriously, receiving a positive reception from some unexpected quarters (such as The Guardian). At the same time, Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson promotes a sexual ethic that is, if anything, more conservative than Perry’s, receiving rapturous applause from a largely secular—and predominantly male—audience.

And yet, while the havoc wrought on society by the sexual revolution is at last coming under some serious scrutiny, the Church—or at least, the majority of the Church of England, since both Evangelicals and Roman Catholics do somewhat better—maintains its half-century of silence. A few years ago, a General Synod member (male, of course) opined that people’s sexual lives should really be none of the Church’s business at all, and most of the time our Bishops behave as though they agree with him. Why are they not speaking out against hook-up culture, skyrocketing rates of sexually transmitted infections, and explicit sex education that promotes promiscuity? Why are their voices not raised against falling marriage rates, rising divorce rates and the devastating effects of fatherlessness?

Perhaps they are afraid to be seen to be seen as ‘moralising’, or ‘preaching’ to people about their lifestyles; but that has not deterred them from an almost fanatical level of moralism when it comes to urging everyone to change their behaviour in order to tackle the supposed ‘climate emergency’. When our spiritual leaders have more to say about carbon dioxide than chastity, something is surely amiss.

At this point, some readers may be objecting that the Church is in fact already obsessed with sex, and the last thing we need is more discussion on the subject; but that would be to miss the point. For a number of reasons, the Church seems to have got itself completely fixated on same-sex relationships, despite the fact that only around two percent of the population identifies as gay, lesbian or any of the other rainbow alphabet soup permutations, while ignoring the other 98%. The Living in Love and Faith project was supposed to be looking at human sexuality more broadly, not just ‘gay sex’; but to the extent that this has happened at all, it has been disappointingly limited.

Given the Church’s tendency to be captured by the zeitgeist, perhaps now that the wider culture is beginning to ask some serious questions about the sexual revolution, the Church will come on board too. It really should not have to be that way round—but it would certainly be better than nothing.

Miss Prudence Dailey MBE, is a member of the General Synod from Oxford Diocese and was the long-time Chairman of the Prayer Book Society. She was recently appointed to a term on the Crown Nominations Commission.