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Living in Sin?: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality (1988)

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Is celibacy the only moral alternative to marriage? Should the widowed be allowed to form intimate relationships without remarrying? Should the church receive homosexuals into its community and support committed gay and lesbian relationships? Should congregations publicly and liturgically witness and affirm divorces? Should the church’s moral standards continue to be set by patriarchal males? Should women be consecrated bishops? Bishop Spong proposes a pastoral response based on scripture and history to the changing realities of the modern world. He calls for a moral vision to empower the church with inclusive teaching about equal, loving, nonexploitative relationships.


From Library Journal

Noted for his liberal stands on sexuality, Newark’s Episcopal Bishop argues with “passion and provocation” that traditional Christian views on sex represent patriarchal prejudice rather than God’s will and invites readers to “enter the uncertainty of not knowing” and to free the Bible from “literalistic imprisonment” as they entertain possibilities like services blessing divorce, “betrothal” ceremonies (celebrating exclusive but temporary unions), and rituals sanctifying gay and lesbian partnerships. Spong sees all this as supplementing traditional marriage (which he also celebrates), not supplanting it. Bound to be controversial. EC

Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Time magazine

“Probably the most radical pronouncement on sex ever issued by a bishop.”

National Catholic Reporter

“John Shelby Spong…is a brave churchman. He has the guts to tell it like it is.”

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