Tuesday, August 25, 2009
One reader offers these reactions to Greg's reply to my response to his original post on the ELCA's recent decision to allow parishes to allow noncelibate homosexualis in committed relationships to the pulpit:
"I greatly appreciated your comment in response to Greg's original post entitled "The ECLA, the Episcopal Church, and the Integration of Church Teaching on Sexual Morality with Christian Doctrine." I think that you are entirely correct that questioning one issue does not destroy the entire structure of the Catholic Church's teachings. John T. Noonan in his book "The Church that Can and Cannot Change" discusses issues on which the Church has changed its position over time because of people within the Chuch questioning them.
"I see that Greg has responded to your post demanding empirical evidence for your views. In particular, he asked two questions: "Has it not been true that the minority of political societies in the world that have recognized same-sex unions (something that, as a political matter, I myself am tempted to support in some manner) are also characterized by a persisting or increasing libertinism on matters of sexual behavior? Has orthodox Christian faith increased in any such country (or has the opposite occurred)? "
"The first question confuses correlation with causation as there has been a general decline in actual church attendance in most Western developed nations since WWII (although polls in the US show that those claiming to attend church regularly have been relatively stable from 1939 to today - about 40%) while attitudes about sex became more liberal during the same period. It would be difficult for him to prove that one caused the other or that other factors did not play a significantly stronger role in causing the decline in church attendance. The second question seems a bit of a catch-22 because Greg would probably exclude as "orthodox" any Christian faith that condone same-sex unions.
"For what it is worth, a survey earlier this year reported that the number of people who regularly attended church in Britain, one of the few nations that permis homosexuals to marry, increased in 2008 from 21% to 26%. In addition, homosexuals in the United States who profess to be Christian (about 70% which is pretty high given the extent to which Christian Churches have traditionally demonized homosexuals) tend to be more active in the churches to which they belong than their straight brethen according to a survey by George Barna, an evangelica pollster. As for "orthodox" teachings of the Catholic Church keeping people in the pews in Europe, this doesn't seem to be the case in Italy where a recent survey revealed that chuch attendance was far lower than previously thought and much closer to that of Britain."