Thursday, 15 February 2007

The ‘B’ word: how bisexuality queers the ‘progressive’ pitch

[...] As each new variant on sexuality arises, so the list grows. But the problem for the Christian community, and the unacknowledged point in the current debate, lies early on, with bisexuality.

Organizations like Changing Attitude are quite clear that they support the aspirations (as they understand them) of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Yet no-one seems willing to suggest or acknowledge what arrangements might be envisaged, let alone blessed by the Church, for such bisexuals.

Indeed, in their 1991 report Issues in Human Sexuality, the Church of England House of Bishops took the view that bisexual activity would “always be wrong for this reason, if for no other, that it inevitably involves being unfaithful.” The bishops went on to say,

"The Church’s guidance to bisexual Christians is that ... they should follow the way of holiness in either celibacy or abstinence or heterosexual marriage. [...] it can also be that counselling will help the person concerned to discover the truth of their personality and to achieve a degree of inner healing." (5.8)
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  1. Indeed.
    Bisexuality is the elephant in the Living room of progressive sexual ethics in the church and given the infinite variability of 'human sexuality' it is merely the elephant behind which a herd of Mammoths are ready to enter the room and further 'complicate' matters

  2. John - I've just come across your blog. As far as I am aware none of the main Christian organisations who support the 'full inclusion' of LGBT people within the Church understand 'full inclusion' to mean 'acceptance without demur' of all sex practices. Relationships within a Christian setting ask for God's grace to be given to support a relationship that has been made in love,commitment, fidelity, and respect. This too is the case for LGBT relationships. In the specific case of bisexuality you flag up a red herring. In any relationship there may be a temptation to infidelity - a heterosexual may desire another woman who is not his wife. A gay man another man who is not his committed partner. Likewise a bisexual who is married may be tempted to infidelity by another man or woman. The point is that in our relationships we ALL can be tempted to stray outside. But there is no inevitability to this - for the bisexual or for anybody else. (And if it does happen it is regettable and in need of God's forgiveness, but no worse because a bisexual has done it.) Nor is such temptation confined to the bisexual. So your point about the 'elephant in the room' and of how bisexuality 'queers' the 'progressive pitch' just does not stand up. From a Christian perspective, in this context we also need to emphasise our need for God's grace in our loving and committed relationships, that God may help us be faithful the one to the other. This I would have thought is a message we ALL need to hear.

  3. Alan, thanks for your comment. You seem to be agreeing with at least the essence of the House of Bishop's position on bisexuality, that bisexuals "should follow the way
    of holiness in either celibacy or abstinence or heterosexual marriage", with the possible proviso that this might include a Civil Partnership.

    The problem for me is that this then excludes the bisexually inclined person from 'full inclusion' if that term means 'including the expression of' this inclination.

    It may well be that there are those using the term 'full inclusion' who don't mean 'full inclusion for active bisexuals', but I'm not sure this is what 'Inclusive Church' means, and I am absolutely sure it is not what those whom LGCM invited to speak as allies at their recent conference mean. See here.