The Judas Church: An obsession with sex
Sacristy Press £12.99
Church Times Bookshop £11.69 (Use code
THIS is a quirky intrusion
into Anglican squabbles about sex. The aim of the book is to
"explore" the thesis that the Bible is "more concerned with power,
wealth, and social and procedural justice than it is with sexual
ethics". The thesis is found proved, and the conclusion reached
that the Church has betrayed the marginalised and the poor by
concentrating disproportionately upon sex, when it should have
been concerned to a much greater extent with injustice. "Judas
handed back the silver and killed himself. We should hand back the
silver and do better."
The method adopted in order
to explore the thesis is almost bizarre. Carey isolates three broad
clusters of issues, "Sexuality and gender" (S), "Power and
wealth" (P), and "Procedural justice and mercy'" (J). He then
isolates every single instance of each issue in the whole Bible and
the Apocrypha (yes, really), categorising each passage with one of
the letters, S, P, or J. If they are "relevant" to today's
squabbles, they are given a + sign: if they are irrelevant
they get a ‒.
Passages about love
generally score three times, being included in all categories S, P,
and J. The totals add up. For the entire biblical corpus, the total
S score is 337, with 199 entries ranked S‒, and 138 ranked S+. P+
adds up to 352, and J+ to 150. The thesis is regarded as supported
by the evidence. Small chapters (on Scripture, Tradition, and
Experience) find similar emphases on sex to the detriment of
the more important issues.
There are huge problems, of
course, with the method: the delimiting of passages before they
are counted; their classification; the assessment of relevance;
interpretation. The author is irked by the filibustering of
conservative attempts to arrive at a credible sexual ethic.
However zany the method, it
may convince "those who hold to the principle of sola scriptura"
that their emphasis on sex is "disproportionate".
Dr Adrian Thatcher is Professor of Applied Theology at
the University of Exeter.