We Like (Gay) Sheep Have Gone Astray?


In today’s Independent there is an interesting piece about gay sheep:

For the past five years, a team of researchers at Orgeon State

University has been investigating the sexuality of sheep. Early on,

they proved what every sheep farmer knows: some 8 per cent of rams are

gay. When it comes to sex, these woolly homosexuals shun ewes and

engage exclusively in ram-on-ram action.

It turns out that the hypothalamus in these sheep’s brains is significantly smaller, and these differences exist even in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. It seems a further 8% or so of sheep are entirely asexual. The reason for the research? The lack of reproduction of this minority is costing farmers dear… And they’ve worked out a way to make them straight, too.

I wonder how this biological evidence will be treated by the various camps? Hari, himself gay and a forceful critic of the church’s attitude, admits he "fears the consequences of moves to abort or "cure" gay people – but I

cannot fear greater knowledge of the biology of human sexuality."

Personally, I think the whole issue is a huge distraction. While serious injustice remains, with famine, wars and global warming, the huge and divisive focus on attitudes to homosexuality as some benchmark for faithful belief is a travesty.

In my own tradition of the Church of England we have in Rowan Williams one of the wisest, clearest, politicially active and deeply spiritual leaders for many years. And yet he has been blunted by this one minor issue. The church has gone astray on this. We have been distracted.




3 responses to “We Like (Gay) Sheep Have Gone Astray?”

  1. I can’t imagine anyone seriously arguing that human sexuality is as important an issue as poverty, AIDS/HIV or global warming. But is it a distraction from dealing with bigger issues, or an important part of it? The issue is indeed seen as a litmus test for attitudes towards the authority of scripture – which in turn determines our response as Christians towards those much more important issues. If we are to speak out or act with any integrity, we must have a consistent basis for our morality and ethics. Without doubt it’s the bible which gives commissions us to act against poverty, disease and global warming: we belive the biblical view about creation, fall and a whole view of salvation and see Jesus’ use of social-prophetic scripture in announcing his ministry (Luke 4). No surprise then, that many pursuing the social outworking of the gospel remain convicted that homosexual behaviour is essentially immoral – whilst holding that view in perspective.

  2. Good points Tim… Just a couple of things to add.
    Firstly, if it is about ‘a consistent basis for morality and ethics’ then my worry is that we are just not seeing that consistency in the way those who would use Scripture to condemn homosexuality interpret the Bible. If they are not saying women should wear hats etc. etc. then we are immediately back to a discussion about what is culturally temporal or eternally moral.
    So I just don’t see this as an appropriate litmus test for proper use of Scripture. Nor do I think it’s in any way appropriate to have such tests. We shouldn’t be using checklists to tag each other as ‘in’ or ‘out’. If someone ‘confesses with their mouth and believes in their heart’ then we ought to call them brother and sister and stay in dialogue.
    Finally, it’s the perspective that you end with that is so wildly gone awry. There just doesn’t seem to be any. It consumes people. When people are asked about the Church, what’s their first response? That group of people who love deeply and care for the poor? Or those bigots who exclude women from high leadership and bash gays?

  3. Weirdly, someone just emailed me this West Wing clip, which summarizes nicely!