Human Identities, Sexualities and Communities in the context of Empire
The issues around human sexuality are rich and complex, and embrace matters of gender, orientation, politics, power, culture and spirituality. Many CWM member churches have their own processes and few allow it to rise above a kind of ‘culture war’ over sexual orientation. It is a topic mired in such controversy that it is unclear if it can move beyond a cause of offence and strife, most especially to those who are vulnerable and enter such discussions to face denial of their rights and reality. If CWM is to engage with these issues then we also need to bear in mind the overarching issue of Empire. If this process is only located in Europe then it tends to confirm the view that these issues are a European issue and problem, when we know that diverse sexual identities were common in Asia for example, until the Europeans came with their Victorian values.
The process will set out from a principle that diverse human sexual identities exist, it is not a question of if or whether they should exist. Let it work from an acknowledgement of diversity rather than a debate about its presence let alone legitimacy. We need also to recognise that we are talking about the experiences of people who face discrimination, violence and even death because of who and how they are. In this respect, this is not a theological issue but a justice issue because it concerns the use and abuse of power.
This consultation will be approached within the framework of CWM’s theme of Hope and Healing.
A Two-fold Process
- A dispersed process where we invite some writing groups to gather around these issues:
- Bodies, power and empire
- Genders power and empire
- Cultures power and empire
- A gathered process of two workshops to develop resources and strategies which focus on Missional Congregations and Empire.
The first workshop “Genders, Violence and Empire” will be held from 11 – 15 June in Buckinghamshire, UK.
The workshop will enable us to interrogate the framework(s) used for gender and hetero-normativity as well as focus on issues like masculinity and power, women and exclusion and observe intersections around race, class and caste as well as look at empire and sexualisation, empire and sexual violence.
The second workshop ‘Building community in the context of diverse Human Sexual Identities’ will be from 3 – 7 December in Bangalore, India.