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Reform Magazine | July 13, 2024

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A good question: Is Britain a sexually dysfunctional society? - Reform Magazine

A good question: Is Britain a sexually dysfunctional society?

One question, four answers

Carla Grosch-Miller
‘Sexual development is the arena for spiritual growth’

My professional doctorate is in the area of sexual and spiritual integration, so I am delighted to have the opportunity to consider what a sexually functional society might look like. Human sexuality is that wild, winsome, difficult-to-define part of ourselves that drives us outward towards others. It is shaped by our physiological, emotional, psychological and spiritual being – which is impacted by culture, life experience and relationships with others. It is intensely personal, connected to our sense of identity and agency. It is also the arena in which we develop the potential for relationship and our moral sensibilit

The Catholic theologian Joan Timmerman, in Sexuality and Spiritual Growth, observes that our sexual development is the arena for spiritual growth. As we mature in understanding our sexual capacity and responsibility, and our need for intimacy, we gain the gifts of self-knowledge and acceptance, the ability to be vulnerable and open to self-transcendence, and the possibility of choosing committed love. These capacities are both sexual and spiritual…

Carla Grosch-Miller is a practical theologian, ordained minister and poet, author of Psalms Redux: Poems and prayers; Lifelines: Wrestling the Word, Gathering up Grace and Trauma and Pastoral Care

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George Kalu
‘I hold orthodoxy and respect people’s liberty’

Sexuality is a broad subject covering a plethora of issues, including gender ideologies, sex education, sexual health (practices and orientations), and cultures. For something to be dysfunctional means it is operating abnormally and could be deemed broken or flawed. But with our robust legal systems it would be reductionist and an extreme generalisation to brand British society as sexually dysfunctional, despite observable challenges on the subject.

Cultures change over time. Before 1967, when the laws changed to decriminalise homosexuality, such practices were considered abhorrent. People such as Alan Turing, a renowned mathematician whose innovative ideas helped allied forces win the Second World War, were sadly convicted of homosexuality. It was not until 2015 that the Queen gave Turing a posthumous pardon…

George Kalu is a URC minister in Swanley

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Chrissie Chevasutt
‘Jesus breaks the crushing burden of shame’

The danger is we look with rose-tinted glasses to an imagined golden age of Christian ethics and morality, when society was not sexually dysfunctional. I think we are all agreed, such romanticism creates a myth.

We choose to see these things through our own interpretation and personal, chosen view of what we think the Bible says about sex and sexuality. Interpreting the Bible through a lens of ‘Scripture, tradition, and reason’ can lead us to deny science, lived experience and praxis. It’s easy to hold entrenched ‘Christian’ beliefs and opinions, without ever having researched, wrestled and struggled with the interface of our personal beliefs and the experience of someone whom we know, that confronts our judgement…

Chrissie Chevasutt is Outreach and Development Worker with Transgender, Intersex and Non-Binary People at St Columba’s URC, Oxford

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Meic Pearse
‘It is where our greatest desire meets our deepest insecurity’

Say what you like about the sexual revolution of the 1960s, one thing is for sure: it isn’t sexy. Two generations in, and we are having ever fewer babies. Rape and abuse are endemic in chaotic households. Thanks to the saturation of porn, more and more of our men can’t even … do the necessary. And increasingly, both sexes are deciding we don’t even want to anyway: recent surveys show that ever more people are sexually inactive. Because of the volatile sexual dynamics introduced by ‘the revolution’, men and women have progressively become distanced from one another – wary, and latently hostile. It’s all a far cry from where the hippie generation thought this was going.

Contrary to what they thought, sex is unavoidably ‘problematic’: it is where our greatest desire meets our deepest insecurity. In the past, sexual restraint had always made for the greatest happiness — for society as a whole, and for the individuals that made it up. But abandonment of that restraint, of course, meant gratification now — even if the trouble thereby created did much to swing decisions back towards restraint…

Meic Pearse lives in Croatia, where men and women can still talk to one another normally. He has nine grandchildren, about whom he worries. A lot.

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This is an extract from an article published in the December 2023/January 2024 edition of Reform

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