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An Open Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from an Oppressed Minority (Reposted)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 • 6:31 am

Inspired by Jeff Martinhauk’s open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, I have decided to take a one day break from my current series and publish an old unsent letter…


To the Most Reverend Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
From an Oppressed Minority


Your Grace,

As you know, evolutionary biologists now believe that sexual monogamy is quite unnatural. In fact, at least for human males, what has been somewhat critically described as “promiscuity” is a genetic/biological imperative. Male heterosexual activity with multiple female partners, traditionally condemned in Judeo-Christian cultural contexts is, according to the most respected research, merely the outward manifestation of genetically encoded predispositions and impulses. In other words, heterosexual men have an “orientation”

It made evolutionary sense, as the infant mortality rate was so high, for our ancient forefathers to live “promiscuously.” Generally speaking, evolutionary anthropologists say, it was most profitable for males to mate with many different females. Indeed, the more females the better, as with each mating the odds of the male seed being carried into future genetic pools and future generations increases.

Over the course of many millions of years, this evolutionary necessity has become bilogically/genetically “encoded” into hetersosexual male primates, including human beings.

Surely your grace recognizes the wide-ranging ramifications of this discovery for both culture and Church. What today is the considered the social norm, monogamous marriage, is essentially an act, perhaps even a crime, against nature.

Traditionally speaking, scripture has been understood to uniformly condemn “adultery” (a rather offensive and hateful term) in all forms and the Church has always strictly suppressed and restricted the expression of expansive heterosexual love.

However, in addition to and in light of the above advances in human self-knowledge there are now many reasons to move beyond the traditional interpretive bonds.

The passages found in the Old Testament in which promiscuity is apparently forbidden are, according to the most prominent OT scholars, likely the result of years and years of cultural diologue between ancient communities guarding distinctive ethnic boundaries and claims. The entire levitical code might be more profitably read as an expression of communal identity. The people who are now called, “Jews” (known in the ancient world as Hebrews and/or Israelites) have always been surrounded by foreign and sometimes hostile language/culture groups.

The great question for any ethnic community in such a hostile and fluid social context is, “How do we remain distinct? How do we maintain our identity while living amid others?”. The Old Testament religious ritual and legal codes stand as a record of the gradual resolution of these questions. Given our recognition of the complex social/cultural milieu within which the OT was written, most mainstream Old Testament scholars believe that it is somewhat problematic, if not impossible, to take the vast number of legal proscriptions found in the levitical at face value.

In light of this scholarly consensus, in my own opinion, we need not take the seventh commandment against “adultery” or the levical injunctions against male promiscuity as universal injunctions but rather enjoy, experience, and live into them as cultural expressions of ethnic identity and inter-cultural dialogue. They say, in effect, “this is who we are.”

But what of Jesus’ famous words during his sermon on the mount. “He who looks at a woman lustfully has already commited adultery with her in his heart.” Well, aside from the well documented fact that Jesus most likely never said these words (see “The Five Gospels”), it is obvious that Jesus was speaking from within a more limited worldview that did not acknowledge natural or inborn promiscuity as a genetic necessity. Jesus, as a first century Jew, most likely held to the prevailing primitive cultural ethic of his day; what he might have called, as fundamentalists do even today, the “Created Order;” the idea that human beings were given by God a natural desire for members of the opposite sex but that these desires were intended to be fulfilled in life-long marital-covenant unions between one man and one woman.

His injunctions ought then to be read in that sense. Jesus spoke from within a primitive culture. Had he known then what we know today, his opinion would undoubtedly more closely resemble my own.

This does not mean that Jesus’ words are not to be taken as “authoritative.”

We know that his injunctions against heterosexual “promiscuity” cannot be applied accurately to heterosexual men because heterosexual men are born with or, dare I say, “created” with the expansive desire to include as many women as possible in their physical expression of love. However, Jesus’ proscriptive words regarding expanive heterosexual behavior may be more correctly applied to homosexual men who, acting against their own created orientation, might be tempted to act out unnaturally, in a heterosexual rather than homosexual way.

In this sense, perhaps Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 ought to be seen as consistent or corollary with the principle St. Paul articulates in Romans 1: it is unnatural, a perversion if you will, for men who are heterosexually oriented by virtue of creation to have sexual relationships with other men. Likewise, then, according to Jesus, it is unnatural, a “perversion”, for homosexual men to lust after or engage in expansive sexual activity with many women.

But, some may object, what of tradition? Need we even ask? The Church has ordained “promiscuous” heterosexual men from the very beginning. Doing so now, and openly, would both serve to acknowlede what has been a suppressed reality and affirm those who for centuries have been an oppressed minority. Such a move would allow heterosexual men to live and expansively love with honesty and with integrity.

Given all of this I plead with your Grace to encourage the various provinces of the Anglican Communion to stop the lie. It is time for heterosexual men to come out of the shadows and embrace the truth of who they are. And, more importantly, it is time for “promiscuous” heterosexual men to be embraced. I call on the Church develop and authorize rites for blessing expansive heterosexual unions; portable rites that may be applied prior to and/or after the loving union takes place. I also call on the Church to acknowledge the centuries of faithful service given by heterosexual men who live secret lives of expansive heterosexual love.

Sincerely Yours in the Expansive Love of Christ,

The Reverend Matt Kennedy

(yes, don’t worry, this is a parody)


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Comments:

Might this mean that the kosher ban on shellfish was a way to contain the reputed impact of oysters on the libido?  Expansive heterosexual love needs a good shellfish argument, sez I.

[1] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 02-08-2007 at 08:05 AM • top

Matt—Brilliant!

[2] Posted by Gator on 02-08-2007 at 08:16 AM • top

Matt+
My only response is the obvious one: masterfully done.

[3] Posted by Jeff on 02-08-2007 at 08:26 AM • top

You know, Matt, it’s just eery how good this is.

I am nearly convinced.

How long did it take you to write this? 

My two favorite parts are your dealing with the OT text and Jesus’s proscription, and your coining of two phrases: “expansive heterosexual unions” and “portable rites that may be applied prior to and/or after the loving union takes place”.

[4] Posted by Sarah on 02-08-2007 at 08:48 AM • top

I await the comments by the highly significant other Kennedy+!

Great work!

[5] Posted by APB on 02-08-2007 at 08:54 AM • top

Brilliant, Matt.  I hope there is no chance of anyone really sending this to him!!!  Maybe you should put a disclaimer on this!!!  Otherwise -terrific!

[6] Posted by Bill C on 02-08-2007 at 08:55 AM • top

Sarah, my favorite line is
“Had he known then what we know today, his opinion would undoubtedly more closely resemble my own.” 
Priceless.

[7] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 02-08-2007 at 09:30 AM • top

Several key observations: 

1)  BRAVO;

2)  Matt eloquently outlines what my spouse’s opinion of the current church mess has always been;

3)  Why would the Presbys need Marvin Ellison when they could have Matt; and

4)  Matt secretly attended and graduated from Harvard/EDS. 

grin

[8] Posted by Orthoducky on 02-08-2007 at 09:33 AM • top

RE: “Sarah, my favorite line is “Had he known then what we know today, his opinion would undoubtedly more closely resemble my own.”

Yes.  I have frequently observed the same thing with Jesus. 

; > )

[9] Posted by Sarah on 02-08-2007 at 09:38 AM • top

Awesome Fr Matt,hilarious.

[10] Posted by paddy on 02-08-2007 at 09:40 AM • top

Wow! That might be the finest exegesis I have ever seen!!

I too love the line:
“Jesus spoke from within a primitive culture. Had he known then what we know today, his opinion would undoubtedly more closely resemble my own.”
Thanks for a great laugh to start my day.

[11] Posted by Shane Copeland on 02-08-2007 at 10:16 AM • top

And you people accuse me of being snarky! tongue wink

the snarkster

[12] Posted by the snarkster on 02-08-2007 at 10:24 AM • top

Foul, Foul!!!!
Lest we be crushed, yeah verily, I say, crushed by the overwhelming forward motion of this train, we wymyn of the world point you to the truth!  We were called to crush you vermin men.  Look to Deborah and Delilah (but not too closely you understand).  We are the ones rightly called to multi-partnered expressions of love.  After all, we bear the seed and determine its right to come forth!  We know more than any mere man.  Yes, had God understood what we wymyn call the supreme sex, the magnificience of wymyn, He would have chosen better writers for that book.

[13] Posted by Jackie on 02-08-2007 at 10:54 AM • top

I for one have been wondering why my love for multiple women has been unfairly restricted by the church AND society. Wheras other people’s capacity to love is perhaps more limited than mine, (and that is also OK, of course), I am capable of loving multiple women at the same time. It’s called polyamory and as Fr Kennedy has rightly pointed out, it is actually even more traditional than the current puritanical/restrictive/hateful/unjust/judgmental position of the church and society.

The current divorce rate is supposedly about 50%, so anyone who pretends that enforced serial monogamy is other than institutionally imposed hypocrisy is, well, a hypocrite.

I am currently working on a liturgy to acknowledge the current “facts on the ground” of my love life. I understand that there is a priest in a neighboring town who could meet me at the local hotel to bless the deed or deeds. Perhaps she could even join us in our joyful exercise of Christian liberty!

Because my wife has not yet risen to my higher state of moral developement, and we attend one of those churches which is still trying to impose its morality on me, I am for now still forced to “live a lie” and remain:

Capn Jack Sparrow

[14] Posted by Capn Jack Sparrow on 02-08-2007 at 10:58 AM • top

Capn Jack -
I believe it is my wymynly duty to have a serious discussion with your spousal unit.  I will bring with me many eye opening and mind expanding tools that will show her the error of her ways in rejecting our wymynly right to multi partnered expressions of love.  After all, this is just about rights, correct?  As for your petty desires, once she is truly liberated, well, you shall see…

[15] Posted by Jackie on 02-08-2007 at 11:20 AM • top

A top 10 all-time Anglican post.  On a serious note, I’d like a revisionist to come in here and explain why these arguments differ from theirs.

[16] Posted by Phil on 02-08-2007 at 11:24 AM • top

So, just what exactly is wrong with the concept of a “blessed orgy”?

[17] Posted by Orthoducky on 02-08-2007 at 11:31 AM • top

We need a blackbox warning label for some of the things we read on StandFirm:

Warning: Keyboard manufacturers recommend liquid caffeine users to protect their keyboards by placing their caffeine in an IV bag before continuing on this site.

Brilliant, Matt!  This ranks up there with the pastor of Mars Hill church in Seattle announcing that he is coming out of the closet because he can no longer hide his lifelong tendency towards being a male lesbian and hoped the church would affirm him in his orientation.

[18] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 02-08-2007 at 11:38 AM • top

At last!  Someone who is not afraid to speak the truth about the heterosexual male’s natural, inborn, therefore holy and blessed proclivity to mate and spread his seed among a large number of females.  Praise be!

[19] Posted by El Jefe on 02-08-2007 at 11:42 AM • top

Free at last, free at last!!!  Justice to be done!  Get this to Jake immediately for translation into Episcodoggeral.

[20] Posted by Jeffersonian on 02-08-2007 at 12:06 PM • top

The leadership of the Southern Male Anglican Chivalrous Knights (SMACK) declare that we are in complete agreement that we are called upon by our very DNA to get as many wymyn in the sack as we possibly can before we die or the Viagra stops working, whichever comes first.

His Highness Snarkster the Corpulent of Bismorton Shropcake

[21] Posted by the snarkster on 02-08-2007 at 12:20 PM • top

Once again, BRAVO Matt !!!!

Now I can come out of the closet!

[22] Posted by Spencer on 02-08-2007 at 12:21 PM • top

Err ... Greg, maybe we should get one of those advisory stickers for SF. cool hmm

[23] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 02-08-2007 at 12:45 PM • top

Seems that Fr. Matt has been reading a bit of secular psychology in between his Scripture study. 

The genetic, biological model in science and psychology, based on evolution theory and ‘survival of the species,’ does seem to favor his ‘apologetic’ for *Expansive Heterosexuality.*

This is taught in psychology classes at the local University along with Functional Constructivist theory.  The boundaries between ‘science’, philosophy, religion, psychology and politics are becoming increasingly blurred, more difficult to determine.

[24] Posted by Theodora on 02-08-2007 at 12:59 PM • top

Come join us wymyn, Floridian.  We can remove those blurry lines from your vision….

[25] Posted by Jackie on 02-08-2007 at 01:17 PM • top

I can tell you right now that some people will read this and take it with total seriousness—have you ever read the Book of Mormon?  Look how many people take that seriously (not to mention the Koran). zipper

[26] Posted by GB on 02-08-2007 at 01:36 PM • top

Matt - You need a bigger disclaimer.

[27] Posted by Jackie on 02-08-2007 at 01:42 PM • top

Lest you think these aren’t serious issues in need of concern.

click here

Sarah - Did they pay a franchise fee?

[28] Posted by Jackie on 02-08-2007 at 01:47 PM • top

...inchatatime Matt, inchatatime…

wink

[29] Posted by tired on 02-08-2007 at 02:00 PM • top

Matt and Cap’n Jack apparently haven’t read the tentative “Order for the Blessing of One-Night Stands” among the proposed Liturgical Resources to be included on the forthcoming CD, put forward originally several years ago as an aid to missionary work in urban singles bars.

The wording is pretty much fixed by now, but the Committee is still evaluating alternatives in the rubrics, such as whether the paper umbrella must be removed from tropical drinks for the Toast before the final Benediction, and whether a martini olive is an appropriate substitution for the sacramental Nacho or Peanut.  So far, a proposal from reactionary fundamentalist conservatives that the service only be allowed at a table and never at the bar has been firmly rejected by an overwhelming majority, on the basis that participation by those on adjacent stools should be encouraged as an expression of the Priesthood of All Believers.

[30] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 02-08-2007 at 02:29 PM • top

Craig Goodrich,

I really like your opinion, but it scares me too. I can just see something like this happening in the not too distant future.

Fr. Matt:
This piece was great. I loved it. Keep up the goodwork. Sometimes we need a good laugh to realize how stupid somethings really look to outsiders. Thank you for you thoughtful and well written article. Hopefully not too many will take it seriously.

[31] Posted by FrRick on 02-08-2007 at 02:46 PM • top

Fr Rick, Crraig,

I’ve already hard of it in a juvenile lockup…
communion was offered with a potato chip and a can of Sprite.  This was from the minister who celebrated thus in Florida several years ago.

[32] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 02-08-2007 at 02:59 PM • top

So, Matt, when and where is the first “Expansive Love Pride Parade”.  Symbol:  Randy, the Randy Rabbit.

Louie Crew and his gang have Integrity, let’s see, what’s a catching name for your organization…..Infidelity, no, that won’t work….....

wink

[33] Posted by Gayle on 02-08-2007 at 03:17 PM • top

Do you think we can get Bill Clinton to agree to be Archbishop in a new province that recognizes multiple partnerships?

[34] Posted by BillS on 02-08-2007 at 03:33 PM • top

This could allow us to hit that coveted “Sex Drugs and Rock&Roll;” trifecta, so beloved of the sixties generation. Here it is:
SEX A veritable buffet. Help yourself to all you want.
DRUGS Well, you have to assume that single malt scotch is a drug. Not much of stretch there.
ROCK&ROLL; U2charists for everyone.
By George, I do believe we’ve got it!

the snarkster

[35] Posted by the snarkster on 02-08-2007 at 03:46 PM • top

Snarkster, you’re falling down on the job.

Drugs, that’s easy:  Viagra, Cialis and for the granola-eating, sandal-wearing side of the house, Extendze.

Single-malt Scotch and a Viagra…sounds like communion elements to me.

[36] Posted by Gayle on 02-08-2007 at 03:54 PM • top

Gayle: Sounds great! Your place or mine?

the snarkster

[37] Posted by the snarkster on 02-08-2007 at 05:40 PM • top

Oh my, this thread seems to have reach the depth of the Marianas Trench and is starting to dig ...  red face

[38] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 02-08-2007 at 06:22 PM • top

Snarkster, ... er, ummm, ahhhhh…
His Highness Snarkster the Corpulent of Bismorton Shropcake,
While I had expressed somewhat earlier a possible concern or two about membership in SMACK (see here http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/1906/ ), I must confess that this new research could possibly move me into a deeper consideration of such membership and a reconsideration of exactly where certain lines should be drawn.  I am thinking that perhaps I should just chuck all that cultural and social garbage and let my genetically determined self some expression.  Of course, you do see the need to enforce this behaviour on any and all who might try to limit the same on the out-dated grounds of morals and chivalry. 

What precisely are the requirements for the SMACK orgy, again?

Thrilled, to be honest,
The Right Reverend David the Ebullient of kesslington under Ox

[39] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 02-08-2007 at 08:57 PM • top

Don’t add a better disclaimer. Rowan would catch on quicker than I did.

Um, Jackie, this letter seems to have lit your fuse. All I want to say to you about one of your many messages above is: Take it easy with the “tools” you mentioned.

[40] Posted by Gator on 02-08-2007 at 09:02 PM • top

Gator - I have an unfortunate tendency to excel at sarcasm - especially when it keeps me from hary-cary.

[41] Posted by JackieB on 02-09-2007 at 11:10 AM • top

Since Y’all are from the Episcopalian tradition I need to remind you of a few things before y’all decide to start blessing orgies and what not.
First: engraved invitations shall be required. 
Second.  though it is quite acceptable in the matter of weddings to specify no guests.  In the case of an orgy it shall be encouraged.
Third.  Cash bars are out.  You want to encourage breakdown in stullifying monogamous sexual behavior.  Roofies might be offered as a party favor.
Fourth If you are going to have a bacchanal feast before hand.  Please remember salad forks go on the far left.
Fifth.  Thank you notes are required.  And no pre written form notes or letters.  Thank each of your guests personally for a lovely evening.

No stinting is permitted.  We do have standards you know.

[42] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 02-10-2007 at 01:28 PM • top

BRILLIANT, Paula L! grin

[43] Posted by MJD_NV on 02-10-2007 at 04:18 PM • top

Matt+, I confess.  I am an ‘adulterophobe’.  I have been carrying this burden for many years.  Since I need some serious counselling, would you be good enough to let me know when would be a good day and time to swing around to your church (about a 4 hour drive .... but I’m sure it’ll be worth it) or maybe you have weekly evening group sessions ...ya know like AA .... “Hi, I’m Bill.  I’m an adulterophobe”.

[44] Posted by Bill C on 02-10-2007 at 11:09 PM • top

Paula L:
Deepest gratitude, I thought this thread was beyond all hope, but you managed to hold a line, give us standards. Episcopalians do need some limits on our debauchery. Salad forks and “thank you” notes, yes, virtue. My heart is glad, my deepest appreciation.

[45] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 02-12-2007 at 09:05 AM • top

I agree that this belongs in the all time top ten list. It is timeless!

[46] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 10-03-2012 at 08:39 AM • top

So . . . what is this exactly . . . a Reformed position paper on evolutionary biology?

OK, whatever.  I still have so much to learn about Calvinism.  But thanks for trying to bring Dr. Williams up to date.

And good luck with the new guy. LOL

[47] Posted by episcopalienated on 10-03-2012 at 08:53 AM • top

Uncle Screwtape would be proud! smile

[48] Posted by gatogordo on 10-03-2012 at 09:24 AM • top

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