Towards a Quaker View of Sex

Meeting Minutes, 4 Oct 1959


Group agreed to subsidize travel costs of participants as needed; continued to try to develop link with the Meeting for Sufferings; spent considerable time identifying key points of a statement they could issue; affirmed importance of this group meeting, exploring and learning together over many months.


Keith Wedmore Papers


The Quaker Group on Homosexuality and Other Problems of Sex

Meeting held 4th October 1959 at the University Women's Club, 2 Audley Square, London W.1.

During our Meeting for Worship, we were grateful for the Prayer of St. Francis:-
"O Lord, make us instruments of thy peace
Where there is hatred let us sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sorrow, joy;
Where there is doubt, faith;
And where there is despair, hope.
O Divine Master, let us not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is giving that we receive
It is in forgiving that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that we are born to everlasting life."

Members present:
Kenneth Barnes
Anna Bidder
Richard fox
Duncan Fairn
Alastair Heron
Kenneth Nicholson
Mervyn Parry
Lotte Rosenberg
Keith Wedmore

Apologies: Alfred Torrie

1. Finance: It was agreed to start, on the basis of voluntary contributions, a Bursary Fund, so that members and guests for whom the expenses of our meetings are a burden can receive assistance. Keith Wedmore undertook to receive and administer the fund and to handle the pooling of fares.

2. Correspondence: Letters were read from Eric Baker and Stephen Thorne. The Chairman was authorized to tell Eric Baker of our concern. The group regretted that a long-standing engagement prevented Stephen Thorne from attending that day and hoped very much that he and Doris Eddington would be with us on December 6th for our time of worship, morning session and lunch. In considering a possible link with Meeting for Sufferings, it was felt to be important that we should continue the present phase of our work on our existing basis of membership and not on individual appointment by Meeting for Sufferings. We look forward to the advice of these two Friends on this and other problems.

3. Minutes: The minutes were revised, approved and signed.

4. The remainder of both sessions was devoted to defining some of the points which we feel must be included in any statement by which we may make our concern known. In our discussion we referred repeatedly to the valuable document submitted by the two women friends X and Y.

We first considered long-term homosexual relationships. The following points emerged:--
(i) We find no crime or sin necessarily inherent in love between two men or two women finding physical expression of a sexual character.

(ii) This understood, we recognise that in such relationships a fine affection is often combined with a passion which must be frustrating because it cannot be satisfied, for the partners are seeking something which the relationships cannot provide. This is due partly to its own nature, partly to the setting in society.

(a) the Nature of the Relationship
We fine that there may be an over-emphasis on the value of passion for its own sake. The outgoing and giving element may then be subservient in the search for self-gratification. This can result in a restless changing of partners, and these changing partnerships are often associated with bitterness and jealousy and frustration within the partnerships and the social groups in which they take place.

An over-emphasis on passion can also be found in hetero-sexual relationships but in these it can be replaced by the permanent and creative relationship of marriage, and the restless search for an ideal of self-gratification become reduced in its effect by the setting of family life. We find this well-expressed by what was said to one of us:-- "It is such fun being married and it is quite different from being in love."

(b) The Effect of the Setting in Society
Social forces tend to hold a marriage together. The same forces make the dissolution of homosexual partnerships easy. The effect of public opinion on these partnerships is clearly a very complex problems, however, and we cannot at present assess it.

(iii) We realise that we shall probably always have the problem of the homosexual with us: what is the constructive attitude towards it? A Christian redemptive attitude is required which recognises that no human experience need be a dead loss; whether it is or not may depend upon how an individual is helped through an experience by the community.

We accept homosexuality without necessarily condoning and we seek the imaginative compassion which re-integrates the homosexual into the community. Would not this attitude towards homosexuality diminish rather than increase its incidence?

We recognise that this attitude amongst us is the result of over a year of disciplined search for understanding. For us in this group it has been a moving experience to find that we can approach the problems together with a scientific and objective approach which puts aside pre-conceived moral judgments but rests on a faith in the possibility of discovering the Will of God.

(iv) In presenting our concern to the Society we shall have both to offer a factual picture and an attitude of mind. We must make clear our exercise in achieving this.

(The last part of these minutes record discussion occurring when three or four only remained.)

The date of the next meeting is:- Sunday, 6th December 10.30 a.m.