Sex and Single Parishioners
Episcopal Church parishes in northern New Jersey have been asked to study a report that advocates church approval of sexual relationships among unmarried people, including homosexuals.
The 600-member convention of the Newark (N.J.) Episcopal Diocese voted to receive a 15-page report titled “Changing Patterns of Sexuality and Family Life.” The report will be the focus of a year-long study by parishes and other groups in the diocese.
“It is our conclusion that by suppressing our sexuality and by condemning all sex which occurs outside of traditional marriage, the church has thereby obstructed a vitally important means for persons to know and celebrate their relatedness to God,” the report states. Newark Bishop John S. Spong has urged an end to the church’s opposition to sex outside of marriage, and some Episcopalians welcomed the study as a long-overdue recognition of social reality. But others said church approval of sex outside of marriage goes against divine law and threatens to worsen the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Episcopal Church presiding bishop Edmond Lee Browning praised the Newark Diocese for being “at the cutting edge” of church issues. But he stopped short of endorsing the report.
The first in a series of textbooks designed to raise issues of concern to Christian college students is due off the press in September.
The Christian College Coalition is developing the series of textbooks in various fields of study. The first book in the series, to be published by Harper & Row, explores issues in psychology. Others will examine biology, literature, history, sociology, and business. The books are intended for use by entry-level students at Christian colleges, but they will also be marketed to other colleges and universities.
Calvin College philosophy professor Nicholas Wolterstorff, who directs the project, said the books are intended to “raise and discuss some of the basic issues a Christian student should be reflecting on as he or she begins study in whatever discipline.” He said the psychology text will raise questions about free will and determinism, while the biology book will present questions about creation and evolution.
In a presentation to presidents of Christian colleges, Wolterstorff pointed out that over the years “a striking consensus and unanimity of vision has emerged” among Christian colleges seeking to link faith and scholarship. He said he views this project as an expression of that vision.
A study commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL) indicates that a majority of conservative Christians do not hold prejudices against Jews. According to the nationwide survey, most fundamentalist and evangelical Christians do not “consciously use their deeply held Christian convictions as justification for anti-Semitic views of Jews.”
Among the survey findings:
- Ninety percent of the respondents disagreed with a statement that “Christians are justified in holding negative attitudes towards Jews since the Jews killed Christ.”
- Sixty-eight percent said Jews are viewed by God “no differently than other non-Christians.”
- Fifty-seven percent revealed no “secular anti-Semitic attitudes,” including such stereotypes as “Jews are tight with money” and “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the U.S.”
“While I am discomfited by those who claim to have ‘The Truth,’ whether in religion or in politics, it is our responsibility to seriously explore their attitudes and understand their mindsets,” said ADL national director Nathan Perl-mutter. “The fact that their thinking and values are different from ours does not mean per se that they are anti-Semitic.”
Banning Progay Meetings
The Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, New York, has banned meetings of prohomosexual organizations from all church-related institutions in his diocese.
Bishop Francis J. Mugavero’s recent order made the Brooklyn diocese the latest of several Catholic dioceses around the country to take such action. Last fall, the Vatican issued a directive warning all bishops against supporting homosexual groups.
Mugavero banned meetings of a Catholic organization called Dignity, which opposes the church’s stand against homosexual activity, as well as other organizations that “seek to undermine the teaching of the church.…” A Catholic organization called Courage, which advocates celibacy for homosexuals, is permitted to meet in church facilities in the Brooklyn diocese.
PEOPLE AND EVENTS
Appointed: As president-designate of Chicago’s North Park College and Theological Seminary, David G. Homer, former president of Barrington (R.I.) College. Horner’s recent appointment to head the Evangelical Covenant Church college and seminary must be approved by the denomination’s executive board and its annual meeting this June.
Died: Eugene A. Erny, 87, former president of OMS International and a former missionary to China and India; February 11, in Greenwood, Indiana.
Reduced: The incidence of violence in prime-time television programs. The National Coalition on Television Violence (NCTV) reported that the average television viewer sees eight to ten hours of violent programming per week, down 25 percent from two years ago. NCTV said 40 percent of today’s prime-time television hours feature high-violence programs, down from 55 percent two years ago.
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