Church Teaching & The Reality of Human Sexuality

The Impact of Neuroscience and Psychology on the Traditional Teaching on Gender and Sexual Variation as Defined by the Christian Church

Susan Gilchrist SuH0509e 17 February 20171

The scientific study on the development of personality and self-identity which is presented uses a novel approach to mapping the transition between the internally created neuro-physiological processes propelling early development to the externally moderated cognitive processes in later life. A continuous process extending from infancy to adulthood can, therefore, be described. The development of atypical gender and sexual identities is used to examine how this occurs. It is demonstrated that the formations of these core features are driven by the search for identity before cognition seeks behavioural rewards.

A moral duality, therefore, exists whereby gender and sexually variant people who express their true attractions and identities while conforming to the highest standards of their societies should be highly regarded. Those engaged in misuse may be severely condemned for their acts. That contradicts the traditional teaching of the Christian Church which condemns all such behaviour as disordered lifestyle choices that always pursue inappropriate sex. An extended theological and historical study is conducted. This uses the scientific results to determine how and why this contradiction exists.

This has changed the cultures and moralities of the surrounding societies are examined in detail in the same way, before Christianity itself. It is demonstrated that a paradigm shift has occurred: This has changed the first-century condemnation of same-sex intercourse which was based on the abuses of power and hospitality in despotic and gender unequal societies, into the now unchangeable condemnation of the sexual act. Engaging in this for any purpose is invariably condemned as a disordered act of grave depravity which always desires inappropriate or immoral sex. It is also shown that these abuses of power with their enforcement of humiliation and domination by first-century Roman edicts, and later in the Church, gave consent to the gross abuses of sex, most notably in same-sex acts. In the victimised and gender unequal Jewish society the condemnation of same-sex intercourse was complete.

Peter and Paul demanded obedience to the Roman authorities. This meant that Christianity could not challenge the social structure of society, but it still vociferously condemned its gross abuses of sex. These abuses of power are not discussed in the New Testament condemnations. That absence is addressed in this analysis. As the moral duality shown by the scientific study is inherent to gender and sexually variant behaviour, its influence must be present in all societies at all times. It is shown that the teachings of Jesus and Paul do not conflict with the results of the scientific study.

The same is true in the first-century Jewish interpretations of the Old Testament texts. This means that the contradictions with science must derive from changes in the Church. It is concluded that the traditional doctrines of the Christian Church on sexual and gender variance are built on an incorrect foundation. They derive from the need to gain respectability and to combat same-sex abuse in Roman society. They do not come from Jesus himself. From the theological, social and scientific standpoints it is established that identical criteria in relation to use and abuse should be applied to all cross-gender identification and heterosexual and same-sex acts of sex. In accord with the teaching of Jesus in the New Covenant, all behaviour should be guided by love, well-being, and purity of intention. There is no automatic condemnation of any sexual act. Instead of centuries of making homosexuality the scapegoat for all sexual abuse, the correct objectives for the Christian Church should be those of combatting all forms of abusive sex

There is no automatic condemnation of any sexual act. Instead of centuries of making homosexuality the scapegoat for all sexual abuse, the correct objectives for the Christian Church should be those of combatting all forms of abusive sex. – Susan Gilchrist – 


Further reading: Gilchrist, S. (2017): “Future Approaches to the Science and Theology of Gender and Sexual Variation in the Church of England and the Christian Church: Gilchrist, S. (2017): “No, Pope Francis: Gender Identity is not a Choice”: Gilchrist, S. (2017): “A House Built on Sand? Attitudes to Gender and Sexual Variant Identities and Behaviour in Christianity and the Christian Church”: Gilchrist, S. (2016): “Sex and Gender Variation in the Christian Church: Is it Not Time to Consider the Science?”: Gilchrist, S. (2016): “Science and Belief. A New Approach to Identity and Personality Formation in Early Life”: A full bibliography is also available on: © Susan Gilchrist: 2017


Susan Gilchrist is a respected academic, who happens to be a member of the Church of England. Her perspectives on, and study of, human sexuality is well documented and deserving of serious study – especially by those in the Church who are disposed to deny the reality of legitimate sexual differences in human beings because of inherited Church teaching that conflicts with the modern scientific and sociological understanding of human sexuality. This precis of her academic studies should lead to further reading.

The current situation of intentional schism with the Church of England – and, indeed, the whole of the Anglican and other Churches on matters relating to the Bible and Sexuality, is based on a profound ignorance of the realities experienced by people who are ‘different’. The sheer variety of difference in God’s creation cannot be denied under a cloak of ignorance and moral probity when people’s lives are involved who have no other way of ‘being’.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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