"Gender, Sexuality and Marriage" in The Routledge Companion to John Wesley

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Wesley failed to knit together his ‘moral psychology’ with his views on gender. His approach to marriage was conflicted. He thought marriage as a form of restraint for sexual desire was useful, similar to the ways reason governs passion so that the object or subject of our passion does not become an idol; but marriage could also distract from piety and ministry and was therefore an institution to be entered into only if necessary. His view of gender was hierarchical, inherited partially from his childhood, household education through Susanna. His inherited moral psychology was rooted in ‘gender dualism’ and a hierarchical view of reason’s authority over the passions in pursuing the moral goal. However, after his Aldersgate experience, his thinking started to shift on moral psychology. He came to see that rather than subduing the passions, the rational and emotional dimensions of human life must be integrated in order to form holy tempers. Wesley never resolved the theological tension between this shift and his hierarchical (authoritarian) view of gender, sexuality and marriage. However, by doing so today, people encounter not only a more consistent ‘Wesleyan mind’, but also one supportive of loving relationships that have been excluded from traditional categories.