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Elephants and penguins: one view of gay marriage

01 February 2019

New book from C of E Evangelical Council challenges same-sex relationships, sex outside marriage, divorce, and birth control

A SAME-SEX relationship cannot be a marriage “any more than . . . an elephant can be a penguin”, a new book states.

The book, Glorify God in your Body: Human identity and flourishing in marriage, singleness and friendship, is published by the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), and written by its theological consultant, Dr Martin Davie, in collaboration with what the introduction describes as “a representative group of other Evangelical theologians”.

On its title page, the book is “Commended by CEEC as a resource for the Living in Love and Faith project”.

The 229-page book is in two parts, with a conclusion. Part one, “A Christian approach to marriage, sex, and family life”, looks at conventional aspects of heterosexual relationships, divided into marriage, singleness, and friendship.

Part two, “Challenges facing a Christian approach”, tackles intersex and transgender issues, same-sex relationships, sex outside marriage, divorce, and birth control.

“As something created by God,” Dr Davie writes, “marriage is not subject to change until his eternal kingdom comes. This means that, in spite of prevailing contemporary feeling, a relationship between two people of the same sex, intrinsically closed to procreation, cannot be a marriage any more than a triangle can have a fourth corner, a truth can be a lie, or an elephant can be a penguin.

“Although the British Parliament and others have declared that there is such a thing as same-sex marriage, this is an example of human beings trying to do something they have no power to do.”

Taking the premise that sexual activity is permissible only within marriage, Dr Davie concludes: “When the New Testament declares that Christians should flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6.18), this includes same-sex sexual relationships.”

The book disputes estimates of the number of intersex individuals: “Far from representing 1.7 per cent of live births, these true intersex conditions amount to around 0.018 per cent.”

It quotes with approval a 2015 podcast by Dr Alastair Roberts which describes the intersex condition as an abnormality or a defect. The few intersex people whom the book acknowledges are, “like all other human beings . . . summoned to live in a way that reflects God’s creation of humanity as male and female”.

On the issue of transgender, the book states: “There can be no doubt that gender dysphoria really exists and that it is extremely distressing for the people who experience it.”

“As people of love,” the book goes on, “we should be proactive in ensuring that transgender people are not subject to harassment or violence, or discriminated against.”

“As people of love”, however, readers “should encourage transgender people not to engage in cross-dressing or go down the path of gender transition”.

With reference to services to recognise a transgendered person’s new identity, the book states: “A biological male cannot be female and vice versa. Since liturgy should not proclaim falsehood, and since Mark cannot in fact become Carol, it follows that such services should not take place. What the bishops propose therefore needs to be rejected.”

The book accepts divorce if filed by a non-Christian spouse or in the case of adultery; and approves birth control as consonant with God’s pattern of fertility.

The enabling officer for the Living in Love and Faith project, Dr Eeva John, said that she was happy to accept Glorify God in your Body as a contribution to the project. “When people give us contributions, they give us a real sense of where people are at, and what is the reason for that position.” All submissions are put in a folder for participants to consult. “It tells us what we are up against as a group.”

To obtain a copy of Glorify God in your Body, click here

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