ANOTHER VIEW: Problems in need of faces

Share
Related Topics
By training and by temperament I do not approve of organised expressions of outrage. But I have learnt that they are frequently inevitable, often necessary and sometimes powerfully effective. I started this learning when I joined the staff of the World Council of Churches just as the council was launching the Programme to Combat Racism. This brought me in touch with black people from various parts of the world who had stories to tell and cases to argue that clearly justified them in being angry.

A different encounter that has always remained disturbingly with me was during a meeting on liberation theology, with many Latin Americans present. Performing as the radical but reasonable theologian, I prefaced some remarks I was about to make by saying, "Of course Jesus Christ died for us all." There was an explosion in Spanish, which the interpreter rendered as: "Oh no, he did not. He died for the poor and the oppressed."

I hope this is not a full statement of the truth, but it reminded me sharply of Dean Inge's remark about the "comfortable shudder with which the average middle-class congregation accepts the burden of sin". Comfortable people can be reasonable and wait on negotiations. People with a deep awareness of current put-downs, frustrations and sufferings cannot be expected to be so reasonable. This lesson was reinforced for me by later meetings with redundant miners, hopeless young people and condescended- to seekers of social security payments in the North-east.

Hence when Peter Tatchell at the small Glasgow conference on human sexuality referred to in yesterday's "Diary" gave us his account of the way the Church of England seemed not only to be putting down homosexuals but also to be ignoring them and refusing proferred meetings for discussion, I saw things from his point of view. Naturally, it was different from that of a member of the House of Bishops, which had to negotiate tricky resolutions on sexual matters through General Synod. I believe we all needed reminding that we are dealing with hurt and angry people, not just with difficult problems about both the Bible and human sexuality. Problems, like statistics, need to be given faces.

The context of this Glasgow encounter was an attempt to engage both heterosexuals and homosexuals, both Christians and other concerned persons, in a deepening discussion about "rebalancing human sexuality". There is no hope of getting beyond either militant or defensive skirmishing about matters sexual until we escape being dominated by the general and trivialising obsession with sex in a purely genital and sensual sense. We need to reclaim human sexuality for trust, love, stability, sacrifice and support.

The writer was formerly Bishop of Durham.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Services Team Leader

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a prog...

Newly Qualified Primary Teacher

£90 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education is the UK...

Y6 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: We are currently recruiting ...

Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare high quality opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mark Reckless, a Tory MP, has announced he is defecting to Ukip  

Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless are heroes – and I’m lining up more of them

Nigel Farage
This Banksy mural in Clacton has been removed by the council  

Painting over the Clacton Banksy? Does nobody understand satire any more?

Rachael Jolley
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?