the body as sacred
The Ecumenical Anglo-Catholic Church USA the belief of the ancient Church that the human body is a sacred vessel and an icon of the image of God. The very fact that God took flesh in the Incarnation is ample testimony to this belief! We affirm the sacredness of human sexuality as a divine gift, which is to be celebrated and experienced in a loving and responsible manner whatever the orientation of an individual may be. We believe that the sacrament of marriage is between two persons irrespective of gender and is a holy covenant or union of the two that is blessed and witnessed by the Church. If such a union is entered into without impediment this union is for life and for the mutual enjoyment, support, trust and commitment of both persons as an expression of Love not only betwixt and between each other but also ultimately as a reflection and manifestation of the Source of All Love the Triune God who creates and sustains all. We believe that to break this holy covenant by entering into an extramarital affair is to commit adultery and adultery does injury and harm to the persons and the union of the partners of such a union.
In affirming the sacredness of sexuality we recognize that all persons are sexual beings. Jesus Our Lord was a sexual being though we do not believe he expressed such “being” in a conjugal way not because he taught that eroticism and or conjugal activity was sinful but rather in being a celibate male he was Friend and Companion to All not simply to one and only one person. Jesus lived his sexuality in the affirmation of life and love in the relationships he had with all whom he encountered and in the physical reality of the Creation that his Heavenly Father created. Jesus as a Jewish male was circumcised yet he never taught that such a religious practice was a mandatory rite that all males had to undergo but the very fact that he did says in no uncertain terms he had a penis despite what some later writers in the Western Church often ignored or dare not speak of in their writings on the role of sexuality.
There is much confusion as to the meaning of the New Testament term “the flesh”. The Apostolic Fathers and Mothers when using this term never intended that the meaning referred to the body but rather to the standards of the “world” or the culture in which they lived and moved. It was not until the influence of Greek Classical philosophy particularly the Stoic School entered Christian theological thought that the term “flesh” took on the meaning of all things of the body in general and erotic and or sexual matters in particular. This influence was especially harmful in so much as it taught that matter was evil and only the spirit pure. Such an attitude is in direct opposition to the Hebrew concept that what God created and creates is inherently good or as the writer of the Book of Genesis so eloquently in utter simplicity says “Behold it was very good”.
We believe that our bodies are good, our sexualities if expressed lovingly and responsibly are good, that gender however it may be manifested is good, and that our individualities are gifts given to us by the Creator of us all. In the words of Philip Newell and George MacLeod ” Hidden in the Mystery of our own bodies and the body of all creation is” the “unseeable One, glory of the everlasting world”.
Glory be to God and Peace. Amen
Bishop Andrew Gentry
All Saints and Sorts Church
Asheville N C USA