Class Notes Notes
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Hilary Term 2016
Class 1 - Marriage and Divorce Augustine - On the Good of Marriage P Ramsey - Human Sexuality in the History of Redemption Why bother with Christian Moral Reasoning ?
The goal of CMR is not to leave behind a thick theological description of morality. Successful Christian ethics is ethics somehow acceptable to all citizens. This is not necessarily the case. Ethics does not need to be detached from dogmatic theology but entangled with in. This does not suggest that it aims at a private ethic. It examines subjects that engage all. Concerned with concrete moral issues. It concerns those who adhere to all religious and philosophical doctrines, without being reduced to any one of them. CMR tend to be moral realists. The goal is to trace out the contours of Christian moral thought where it is practical. Sex, Health and Politics - basic to human life. The human moral task is that of creation, rather than discovery of human identity. The concrete issues of the world are bound up with different conceptions of God. Roughly a third of the world's population are Christian. To understand this world will entail gaining an awareness of what these people believe, and why. An understanding of faith may help to gain an understanding of further areas. A subtle, critical and sympathetic capacity is required to be able to further an understanding of both theological and non-theological ethics.
Marriage Core Question : Whether remarriage after divorce, while the first spouse is still living, constitutes obedience to the Gospel? Or whether it constitutes damage of some sort and is out of place with salvation history?
What is marriage in the Christian tradition and why is it good?
Starts in tradition with Augustine (not first necessarily, but good starting point) Marriage, for Augustine, involves three goods. Marriage is, primarily, a 'True union of friendship'. He describes it in terms of a natural compact between the sexes. Friendship between man and woman is a natural form within in creation, discovered not created. It is at the heart of the created order.
• Starting point : Natural distinction between the two sexes - with one govern and the other obey.
• Outdated point of view : but also a crude kind of response, as it claims that the view today trumps any view of the past.
• Imminent criticism : Goes within the tradition and explores it internally, takes the tradition on its own terms. How the internal logic functions.
• Controversial claim in obedience claim - does it lie in the account of gender identity? Or in the sexual nature?
I. Fidelity Finns : Friendship is one of the goods of creation Recommendation for human flourishing in the good which is marriage - Defined by Chastity. This is a matter of ensuring that any sexual intimacy that occurs does so within its proper context. You can be a chaste wife / husband without meaning necessarily that you do not have sex - it must just be within its given context. 'Owe equal fidelity to each other'. This is accorded by Paul = "Power". 'A wife does not have power over her own body, but her husband does; likewise a husband does not have power over his own body; his wife has' (1 Cor 7:4). His moral reasoning is shaped at every turn by salvation history. There is no birth and death in the original creation creation is not overturned despite the corruption of sin. Marriage pact : Friendship
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Hilary Term 2016 Augustine : In our present situation of birth and death, marriage between male and female is something good. Moral reasoning is shaped by salvation history. There is a salvation historical retention here, which comes from what Augustine believes about sex - it can only be between mortal bodies, that is those bodies which have suffered from the fall and are subject to death. The situation is continuous with creation. Amidst the fallen world there are great goods, namely marriage fidelity. This is the great good of the spirit. Fidelity is very precious. Fidelity is realised in the true friendship between man and woman - the friendship is possible only if fidelity is fulfilled. Lust : The lust which characterises sexual intercourse gains a higher level purpose, from being associated with fidelity, because it is within a good course . Sexual desires requires that good cause to make it a forgivable sin rather than moral sin. Augustine believes that lust requires a good cause - namely being offspring. Fidelity putting bodily health in second place - core golden feature of human life is fidelity. It is to be preferred over life and health. Sin threatens that good of fidelity which is so precious that it is worth one's very life, partially because of the threat of sin that lurks around sexual desire. It is the condition of the covenant of God, the relationship between church and Christ - the great goal in which human life can consist. Fidelity trumps human health and happiness, if the two are to conflict. Why is Augustine so worried about lust?
Ramsey : Even if lust is within fidelity, it is not simply good. For Augustine the problem is that in sexual intimacy, what may be lost is personal presence to the agency which constitutes that sexual act - what is it to lose presence in the sexual act. Is it ecstasy - element of distortion?
The Augustinian conception alway focuses on the sexual arousal in which the will is forgotten, because of the body. Ramsey thinks this is the best understanding of Augustine. If our agency as good as our will is, then the loss of the ordering of the will in the loss of personal presence in ecstasy, is a loss of will. Become overcome by the body and the will is set aside. Enjoyment : Must it be for God alone? Should one enjoy ones spouse in God, precisely in sexual intimacy? If the spouse is one's neighbour, is the enjoyment in sexuality the enjoyment in God?
Purpose : Why marriage is good and why sexual intercourse has a good purpose. The ordering of one kind of good to another. Good's have necessary purposes, and to act well is to act in line with those necessary purposes. Health now appears as something to be sought for its own sake, along with wisdom. Purpose, necessity and teleology. II. Offspring Amongst the fathers old, patriarchs, the man with the consent of his wife was allowed to take another wife, so that children could be born - to ensure a greater number of descendants. In the early days, even those who could have control of themselves, took up a number of wives without blame. It was the duty of the saints to exploit the good of marriage to further God's people, it was necessary for that other purpose. This is clearly saying that children are good, but their goodness is qualified - it is not permitted to have multiple marriages for the sake of increasing the number of offspring. The actions of the early fathers of the Church is explained but rejected by Augustine. The christology which is ordering his reason is altering the way that necessity operates. III. Sacrements This provides an additional argument against divorce for the sake of Children. Augustine : My belief is that the bond would not have been so strong had some sacred bond not become attached, more than the feeble existence of mortals. The marriages alliance is not rescinded by the divorce that comes between them. Page 2 of 24
Hilary Term 2016 The sacraments are to do with marriage in the church and are thus permanent. It builds upon the basis of the sacrament of baptism within the church. In the city of our God, once it is retracted, it can in no way be rdisvolved except by death
- the bond of marriage remains, even if offspring cannot be achieved. If the wife cannot have children, to have children with another women is still a sin. Divorce does not make you unmarried in the city of God. Finding out that your spouse is infertile is not a reason for divorce and remarriage, thus the 'sanctity of the sacrament takes precedence over the fertility of the womb'. The sacrament is the sign of the marriage of Christ in the church. It has an immense weight of meaning within the Church - 2000 years of teaching around the nature of marriage. It is Christological. The key passage of Eph 5:21 : Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
1. Are there any good theological objections to Augustine's account of sexuality in salvation history ?
Before the fall the view is different from that after - he thinks that there wasn't a split between my rational self and my lustful self which loses control. The split is not a body - spirit dualism, but before the fall, our bodies were subservient to our soul. Augustine picks up on Platonic ideas of the tripartite division of the soul. After the fall, the third division takes priority and can challenge the will. Lust : Akrasia / Rebellion of desires.
2. Are there good theological reasons to prefer an account of sexual liberation from traditional forms of sexual identify over against the Augustinian interpretation of created order and salvation history?
Why were the church fathers allowed so many wives? The need to bear children which existed then, no longer applies. The birth of Christ changes what is necessary now in procreation - Jesus had to be born. Israel needed to continue to be in existence as the Messiah was going to come - they are a small tribe of people who were attacked from all sides and had to have lots of children to keep the race going. Augustine : Salvation historical perspective is decisive. Children are a good of marriage, but you cannot bear witness to the good of children by divorcing and re-marriage for the sake of children. Fidelity is a great good of the spirit. Necessity : Channeling of the will towards the proper goods. The good of being committed to one person - if friendship is really important, being faithful is the only way to maintain a friendship. Also is a way of being faithful to God, it participates in or symbolises faithfulness to God. History and the term 'Outdated' - In the more modern terminology, outdated tends to mean after the Victorians or after Kant - key turning point in history for a CMR perspective. Power and Gender : The Pope has recently reinforced the teaching against contraception in the Philippines - population of the Philippines has spiralled massively in the last 30/40 years - lead to poverty and the growth of sex trafficking and prostitution. The land cannot sustain that population. These ideas lie deep in natural law tradition. The challenge back is that if Children are not necessary on Augustines terms and faithfulness is necessary - then why not have contraception that maintains fidelity. Criticism of Augustine
1. Old Testament - Gregory of Nyssa Augustine's whole striation of thoughts are being queried. Some have suggested that Gregory of Nyssa writing on sexual forms can challenge Augustine. Our creation is two-fold - image of God, but also male and female - not like God. The distinction of male and female has no resemblance on the divine. Implanting into man an irrational nature. If you don't have sexual differentiation brought into the notion of creation, then there should be no issues with same sex love. The sexual differentiation which Augustine constructs his account is not necessarily there. Barth - Comment on the idea of a neutral and abstract humanity that can be considered independently. He comments that man never exists as such, but always as the human male or the human female. This is not Nyssa's view - he offers a counter to the classic Augustinian tradition on the form of human sexual differentiation. Page 3 of 24
Hilary Term 2016 Is Nyssa's exegesis compelling? He is reading the scriptures salvation historically?
2. New Testament Marriage is a friendship of fidelity which aims at the life of offspring and is insoluble because of the sacrament, it aims at moral growth. But how does this relate to Jesus' teaching? Does it bare close or any relation to his teaching? Is his account a reasonable and reliable account of Scripture? (Scripture - Concepts - Scripture) See p3 of handout. Context : Deut 24:1-4 - not going back to marry your first husband. Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?
Divorce - Disagreement on what the grounds of divorce were but during the time of Jesus they believed it was fine to remarry, if you could get divorced. The cause for divorce is the question of controversy, and how one could get one was a dispute of groups. Jesus allows divorce on the grounds of unchastity. Whatever divorce means, Jesus believed that it was possible - but does he also mean that if you can divorce you can remarry ? In Mark and Luke he says that you can't remarry but in Matthew here it does seem like it is a possibility, except for because of unchastity. Agreed that if someone had a valid divorce then you were allowed to remarry. Hillel : Allowed divorce for any cause and any matter Shammite : Exodus 21:10-11 - If in marriage the husband deprives the wife of certain things, this provides ground for divorce.
- Certain depravations : Food and Clothes - material neglect
- Certain cruelties : Sex abuse - Emotional neglect. Divorce : No longer married and free to remarry, even if the first marriage is still living. If Jesus allowed remarriage after divorce, it would go against Mark and Luke, which viewed it as adultery. These go against Matthew, which seems to allow it.
• A women, even a slave wife, could go to the court and divorce their husbands on these grounds. The Shammites are giving a rendering of the Scripture with certain goods being maintained. Is this correct within CMR ? Seems to be better than any divorce procedure by the Hillites. Is Jesus with the Shammites specifically saying that divorce can be granted on these kind of contexts. Even if he is saying this, then it is still a further step to say that remarriage can occur over divorce. Perhaps Augustine was not taking health seriously enough and missed the way that the Shammites read Exodus. Health and goods can perhaps be sought better in another marriage ?
Allowed - The evidence of the first century court records, in the case of adultery a divorce was generally allowed. Moses commanded divorce. But for Jesus, he corrects tradition and says that it is allowed rather than commanded. On the face of it, Jesus is affirming that it is an option but is not necessary because in the Kingdom of God there is an option for forgiveness and reconciliation. If divorce is possible, must remarriage after divorce be acceptable ? When Jesus says and allows divorce, is he allowing remarriage afterwards?
This has a reading of what Christ is reported to be doing in the antithesis in the Sermon on the Mount - bringing in the possibility of reconciliation against the hard line command of necessary divorcing in the case of unchastity. If this is correct, then the questions being posed have nothing to do with the notion of the insoluble sacrament - this is because divorce is permissible in some circumstances, it is certainly an option and thus Augustine was arguing incorrectly about the Sacraments. The question is : will the unchaste party forgive? Focus on protecting the vulnerable - possible to be a female divorcee and went to live on their own, but they are vulnerable. The Shammite religions take care of those vulnerable - by giving the possibility of remarriage it means that women have the option of being more protected. This looks very different to Augustine's approach, and it is looking at a textual basis. Most obvious when criticising it is that Jesus is reported to be teaching this, and agreeing the material concerning divorce - this would exclude Mark and Luke, which become hyperbolic.
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Hilary Term 2016 Knowledge of Context : Augustine may have confused the wrongly translated Latin - confuse the concept that he draws from it. Volgate translated by Jerome. There wasn't the studying available now on analysis and new texts that have been discovered - not aware of the Shammite and Hillites debate, and instead having read the text on face value. He may think he is being faithful to Jesus - reading outside the context of Jesus taking sides in conflicts about when divorce is allowed between the Shammite and Hillites. Jesus is looking for mercy and reconciliation. Critical line against Augustine : Did not know the context, insoluble marriage is not part of scripture and is dangerous because it locks people in unhappy situations. Not damaging the Goods There are goods which one should not damage - we should never act against a good. If there are two equal goods - the life of mother and the life of the child, one must die. If no good can be damaged, both must die - must be left to run natural course. The goods at stake in marriage, divorce and remarriage. In marriage two people may be separated without serious bad effects on health or on life. The good of marriage will be damaged but others may be preserved. Augustine puts health below fidelity - that is not necessarily right.
3. The Creation accounts on which Augustine draws His legacy is very strong - What is the status of sex in Christian Ethics?
Read the Song of Songs
- How might the joy of sex and the good of children be reconciled in the Christian tradition. Marriage and Health / Children - presence of IVF/ third parties, dangerous or abusive marriage Marriage and Politics - Luther : marriage is not a religious institution governed by the Church , it is a civil institution. Adulterers should be put to death - they have already lost themselves so to speak. You can consider as dead the one who has committed adultery.
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Hilary Term 2016
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Hilary Term 2016
Class 2 - Human Sexuality Exegesis of Scripture - How does it relate to experience?
In talking about Human sexuality we could spend time talking about the very many phenomena reported in the world today. Gender identities : 51 - this requires careful understanding as to what these different gender identities mean. Three core notions : Love, Law and Virtue - what might they have to say for us in reasoning in relation to human sexuality. Procedure : Biblical Exegesis and involvement in experience of sexuality. Love : Sex should be a matter of love, at least ideally. Loveless ideological abuse should not be associated with sex. Augustine's account of sex is deeply engaged with the account of love. In Augustine's account love is basic when we are thinking about Marriage. Law : Natural law is a basic feature of christian discourse about sexual love - particularly so when regarding questions about children and fertility.
• Related to political law - sex has always been under some sort of protection and regulation.
• To talk about sexuality is already to start talking about law in some sense. Virtue : CofE marriage services are explicit about the role of marriage and virtue- marriage strengthening society and this is a matter of virtue. It is not unanimous in saying what virtues it is in question that strengthen society and what forms of sexual love promote such virtues, what virtues are requested. This helps for understanding Christian ethics in practice. Love, Law and Virtue are intertwined, crucial things, for thinking about human sexuality. Church of England Doctrine - Pilling Report - Question of same sex relationships - deals with virtue, love and law. This has implications for the CofE in the coming years. It illustrates and brings to the surface what is at stake. This was especially in relation to desire. Modern global capitalism is defined by making desire as an end in itself. While human desire is much more diverse than sexual, but sexual desire has become a primary medium for other areas, and it is used in commercial for selling - sex sells. "The growth of the perception of sexuality as the ultimate place of freedom and gift". The experience of desire is its own sufficient reason for sexual intercourse. This is a problem because the idealisation of desire intimately connect to abuse - an overriding desire tends to become selfish. Desire on this account is a possessive megalomania. Few people however actually live according to the pure logic of desire. The key thing is that she introduces an important distinction between love and desire - she appeals to love as a force of resistance against desire. Jesus is properly cautious about where sexual desire belongs in the radical command to love, the point being that they are distinct. The very distinction of love from desire, is the salvation of desire. Desire must not be on its own - indeed in perhaps cannot be on its own, ordering it towards God means that it cease to be a selfish experience. It must be ordered by generous love, and this is its point, and with an appeal and order towards to the love of God. It is an appeal to the love of God to rescue human sexuality from isolated desire. Are all sexual loves the same - is there just sexual love? Is it an undifferentiated attitude? Similarly, are any sexual desires such that no kinds of love can make them right. Are some sexual desires such that they will always corrupt love?
Augustine : two cities formed by two loves - city of god (love of God) and city of neighbour (love of domination)desire, libido. In what way may sexual love be a dimension of the city of God?
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