Ethics and Community

Christian priests of both genders Source: activities of strong, capable women have broken many barriers to the full participation of women in the life of the Church, and women now serve as influential leaders, ministers, theologians, and even bishops in some communities. Theologians explore women's history and experience to discover fresh resources for meeting the challenges of the contemporary world. In liturgy, sermons, and doctrines, Church leaders emphasize the nurturing, sustaining, and parenting aspects of God, qualities traditionally viewed as feminine. Paradigms of mutual responsibility and relationship in community are replacing the old paradigms of hierarchy and authority. In some church bodies, ideas of equality for women and leadership by women still stir up controversy. In other churches, these ideas spark fresh gospel interpretations.

Less debated in most of Christian history has been the status of homosexuality. Today, however, a growing acceptance, or at least tolerance, of homosexuality in secular society has fostered debate among Christians regarding the role of homosexuals within the congregation. Some churches have recently suffered the painful separation of schism over the ordination of gay men and women.

Gene Robinson, openly gay Episcopal bishop Source: changing nature of Christian acceptance of gay people into the sacraments of marriage and ordination has evoked comparisons with the early and ongoing struggles of women. While many Christians turn to the Bible for support of their view that God has condemned homosexual acts, many scholars and theologians read the Public DomainBible with fresh eyes, discovering new ways of understanding what the Bible says about sexuality. Some denominations have adopted the official view that there is nothing inherently sinful about homosexuality, and the Episcopal Church of the United States of America has ordained an openly gay bishop. Public DomainBiblical scholars such as Phyllis Trible and theologians such as Mona West have developed fresh ways of understanding sexuality and relationship in the context of Christian teaching. The contributions of gay and lesbian Christians continue to contribute to a fuller understanding of God and the gospel's message.

Study Questions:
1.     Are “liberal” and “conservative” Christians categorized this way because of their political views? Explain.
2.     Why is there no consensus about the role of women within the Church?
3.     Who practices celibacy within Christianity? Why?
4.     Is homosexual practice acceptable welcome within the Christian tradition? Are homosexual leaders accepted? Explain.

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