Sexuality, orthodoxy and the church

By Brian Edgar

As a result of certain decisions about sexuality and homosexuality the Uniting Church in Australia has effectively approved a situation where members and councils can hold diametrically opposing views. This raises the question as to whether a church can hold to a diversity of views, including the approval of same-sex unions, while, at the same time, maintaining the unity and orthodoxy of the church.

Church diversity legitimately exists in those areas of church life which are not of the essence of the faith such as liturgical styles, forms of ecclesiastical governance, membership regulations and, more importantly, gifts of the Spirit.[1] But legitimate diversity can only exist where there is unity of faith – orthodoxy.  In this paper I argue that these matters of sexual ethics are, like many other important matters of behavioural ethics, intimately and irrevocably tied to the substance of the faith – part of the orthodoxy of the one, holy, catholic church.

This argument is typical many addresses which I gave often during the Uniting Church’s debate on sexuality. One form was published as ‘Moving Ahead with Diversity? Sexuality and Orthodoxy in the Uniting Church’ in Uniting Church Studies (2001) Vol. 7, No.1, 27-40 and sections of it were re-published in W. and K. Abetz (eds) Swimming between the Flags: reflections on the Basis of Union (Middle Earth Press, 2002) as “A Minimalist or Pluralist Orthodoxy?” (pages 125-132) and  “Orthodoxy and Sexuality” (pages 179-184).

The full text can be obtained here: Sexuality and Orthodoxy in the Uniting Church

[1] Basis of Union (BU) paragraph 13.

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