Friday, 14 May 2010

Strange reporting!

In the Sydney Morning Herald today there is a very sad story about a priest in Newcastle Anglican Diocese defrocked for sexual misconduct. Part of the reporting struck me as extremely strange. The reporters claim that although there were no criminal charges "church doctrine dictates sexual relations between a priest and anyone else must be sanctioned by the hierarchy". Now that seems odd, doesn't it? Surely no Christian church has a process of approving sexual relations outside of marriage. In very liberal churches committed same sex relationships may be accepted: but that is different to the "hierarchy" approving a sexual relationship.

The Diocese professional standards say what I would expect a church to say "You are to be chaste and not engage in sex outside of marriage and not engage in disgraceful conduct of a sexual nature". However the standards also say “If you intend to make physical contact with another adult or speak to them about a sexual matter you should... seek permission.” Commonly in professional standards this simply means that if you are going to put your arm around an adult parishioner at a funeral to comfort them you should say “do you mind if I give you a hug?” or if you are going to demonstrate how to participate in a children's game you should seek the child’s permission by saying “do you mind if I put my hands on your shoulders.” Perhaps the reporters have completely (and bizarrely) misinterpreted this guideline (and called it church doctrine!)

The reporters seem to have no idea that Christians believe that "do not commit adultery" still applies. Here's some more proof that we live in a post-Christian society. In terms of sexual ethics we are counter-cultural. So counter-cultural that it seems that two journalists from Sydney's leading newspaper cannot comprehend a Christian framework.

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