Church and Sexuality

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
June 26, 2008

CrossWhen I was growing up in Tacarigua, Gilbert Jessop, the priest of the St. Mary’s Anglican Church, employed David, a homosexual servant, who was cook, maid, chief bottle washer and the master of his house. Rev. Jessop, the son of the famous English cricketer of the same name, was a bachelor and so David directed the daily routine of his house. Most of the young men in the district liked the arrangement because it gave us free reins to the pastorate which Rev. Jessop turned it into a mini–club house. Rev. Jessop was a master at table tennis–no one ever beat him in a game–and an efficient cricketer. He was the first person I ever saw play the game golf which he did on the Orange Grove savannah.

These memories come back to me as I read about the controversy overtaking the Anglican Church and the possibility that an act of homosexuality may lead to a third schism in the Christian Church and spilt the Anglican Church in two. In this context, it is well to remember that it was the in ability of a king to have full rein of his sexuality that spilt the Holy Apostolic Church and led to the formation of the Anglican Church.

The first incarnation of the Christian Church took place in the 4th century CE when the Jesus cult was formalized into a religion as Constantine, the Roman emperor, led the way in making the Romans, who were pagans at the time, to accept Christ as their savior. In accepting the emperor the young church had to compromise with the Romans and their celebration of the sexual. It allowed the Romans to indulge in their bacchanal even as they accepted the rituals and dogma of the Christian Church. This arrangement led to two days of carnival (the celebration of the flesh) in which one gave vent to the flesh (that is, the sexual dimension of one’s being) and then renounced the devil and all his works on Ash Wednesday.

The second incarnation came in the 16th century when the Pope refused to allow Henry V111 to marry Catherine of Aragon. Rather than accept this position Henry simply started his own Church–the Anglican Church–where he could give free play to his sexual and nationalistic tendencies.

The schism between the two factions of the Church occurred because a divorced man could not marry the person he loved and still stay in the church. Therefore, he formed his own church; constructed his own bible, the King James Bible, and issued his own set of rules that are formalized in the Book of Common Prayer. Later, the theologians of the English Reformation came to believe they were more faithful to the teachings of the Holy Bible than those who followed the Pope.

Today, the Church is threatened with a further schism that revolves around the issue of homosexuality; the ordination of a homosexual bishop; and whether there is any scriptural prescription for such behavior in the Bible. The Anglican prelates in the United States and Canada support this position whereas the prelates of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin American see the practice of homosexuality within the Church as a violation of the Church’s doctrine.

From June 22 to June 29 prelates who believe that homosexuality is a sin came together in Jerusalem as the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) to declare their independence from the Church of England and to consider how best to form their own church. They are not prepared to be party of any movement that seeks to legitimize homosexuality or same sex unions within the church.

Gafcom is prepared to accept the resolution passed by the Lambert Conference of 1998 where the Anglican bishops say homosexuality is “incompatible with Scripture” and homosexuals should not be consecrated. That does not seem to be enough. Gafcom believes that “after five centuries, a new folk in the road is appearing.” Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney Australia observed: “Gafcon is a movement, not just a convention, and I imagine that the present Gafcon leadership will be the initial leadership of any movement that emerges.”

In August, the Lambert Conference–one of the four instruments of Communion in the Anglican Church–will meet in London to iron out its differences. With 80 million members, the Anglican Church remains the third largest affiliation of Christian churches in the world. Hopefully, Anglicans (of which I am one) will be able to work out their differences.

Yet, as I contemplate their dilemma, it reminds me that sex is a powerful aphrodisiac. It divides families; it divides friends; it even divides churches; whether they are in the bedroom; the board room or the church house.

We, in Tacarigua, got it right. We cared little whether Rev. Jessop was a homosexual or not. He cared for our village and we accepted him. His personal life was his and we continued to praise our God. Maybe God intends that we live out our sexuality as we see fit since it is He who conferred this wondrous blessing on us.

http://www.trinicenter.com/Cudjoe/2008/2606.htm

2 Responses to “Church and Sexuality”


  • “The schism came because a divorced man could not…” Cudjoe on Henry VIII.
    An elaboration on the facts:
    Henry VIII had been allowed by the church, to marry his brother’s wife, contrary to the Table of Consanguinity- which delineates which relative one cannot marry.That way the Tudors could keep the dowry she brought.
    The wife was unable to produce a son, needed by Europe’s warrior kings to pass on the line of succession.
    Henry was a known “player” he used his royal perogative to have many women.Some popes did the same.
    One of these women, Anne Boleyn became pregnant, and Henry hoped that this child would be te much needed son.
    Standing in the way was the fact that te Churh was pussyfooting on the annulmet enry asked for.
    The reason he needed an annulment, not a divorce, was that a bastard child could not inherit the crown of England.
    The pope could not grant an annulment, because the woman Henry VIII wanted to get the annulment from, was the aunt of Phillip of Aragon, King of Spain, who was holding the pope prisoner at the time.(And we think politics is complicated, nowadays).
    As the pregnancy progressed, henry became more desperate, and the pope continued to dilly dally.
    In desperation, henry broke with the church, which was as corrupt as the day is long, divorced hmself, was crowned fidei defensor by his cardinal, and promptly married Anne Boleyn.

    Here’s the kicker: The Baby was Elizabeth 1 of England, big disappointment at first, but she redeemed herself and became one of England’s most powerful monarchs.

    This is a part of European history not included in textbooks used by Catholic schools, in TnT in the 1960’s, so depending where Cudjoe went to high school, he may not have known the full story, but the mauvais langue put out by Catolicism.

    The irony is that the popes had children- the Medici popes did. Adds an interesting twist to the Church and Sexuality, I think.

    The History Honors programme at UWI St. Agustine, provided enough books to get the facts straight.

  • Does Carnival truly date back so far? I have learned something today 🙂

    “Therefore, he formed his own church; constructed his own bible, the King James Bible, and issued his own set of rules that are formalized in the Book of Common Prayer.”

    Let’s say TRANSLATED his own Bible, for safety’s sake. The Biblical canon, of course, dates back to the end of the three hundreds. It wasn’t his fault that the Bibles of the time were still mostly in Latin.

    Everything else was his fault though.

    “The first incarnation of the Christian Church took place in the 4th century CE when the Jesus cult was formalized into a religion as Constantine, the Roman emperor, led the way in making the Romans, who were pagans at the time, to accept Christ as their savior.”

    …And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. ~Acts 11:26

    If you mean the unification of the church into a single body, there were always ties between the churches but Christianity was never a LEGAL religion until Constantine.

    “Maybe God intends that we live out our sexuality as we see fit since it is He who conferred this wondrous blessing on us.”

    Or maybe God intends that we should follow his Word.

    I don’t consider myself a bigot. I don’t believe that people should be persecuted or injured for their sexuality. However, the Bible describes homosexuality as “unseemly”, “abuse [of God’s gift, presumably]” and “unnatural” (King James, New Testament). Opinions will not change this. If someone wants to follow the command of the scripture, they should lay it aside. The Catholic Church has less emphasis on the scripture than the other churches, and more on the proclamations of the Pope and clergy. However, the scripture remains.

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