Beliefnet
The New Christians

Mike Morrell got off his ROM long enough to serve up this beauty under Announcing Queermergent:

Well, I’m coming in on this discussion late – which is probably
merciful. I think that, before posting on such things, we need to do a
quick blood-pressure check. If its too high, then it’s probably not the
Holy Spirit, no matter *what* our views on Subject XYZ are!

For some reason as I write this comment, Preson Phillips is the one
most on the forefront here. I feel like yours was one of the most
pained responses, like were having to give up a good friend because
they messed up your parents house while partying for the last time. But
I have to ask: Why is *this* of all things the Conversation-killer? We
all agree that human sexuality is God-given and very important…so
let’s stay engaged. (Oh, and everyone knows that ‘Valkyrie’ toward the
top was being very sarcastic and just trying to stir the hornets
nest…right? I feel like s/he got these comments started on combative
terms with some hyperbolic statements in Tony’s ‘favor’)

What follows is not an attempt to change anyone’s mind about the
sinfulness or blessedness of homosexual orientation and practice. We
all have our perspectives, and they change like glaciers, not ice
cubes. Rather, I want to lay out in as concise a manner as possible my
own readings, prayer, and reflection in this these past few years,
showing essentially four different options people of faith have in this
regard. I’m pretty sure we all fall into one of these four
understandings. My goal in showing them in a descriptive,
matter-of-fact manner is to humanize all four perspectives, so that we
don’t demonize one another.

By way of a quick prelude: I will not be handling any Old Testament
passages that describe or seem to describe homosexual activity as an
‘abomination.’ That is because these very same passages (as
GodHatesShrimp.com humorously points out) describe many other things as
‘abominations,’ our English translations belying the fact that this
word simply denotes that which is cultically unacceptable to the ritual
purity of set-apart Israel. So I will exclusively look at the three New
Testament passages, which all happen to be by Paul (Jesus doesn’t
mention homosexuality in the Gospels). I’m not even going to go into
Paul’s passages in-depth, but they’re the ones in I Corinthians 6,
Romans 1 and 1 Timothy 1:10.

The four options, as I’ve seen them, are as follows:

1.) Paul *is* addressing contemporary homosexual orientation/practice and this *does* matter

2.) Paul *is* addressing contemporary homosexual orientation/practice and this *doesn’t* matter

3.) Paul *isn’t* addressing contemporary homosexual orientation/practice and that *does* matter

4.) Paul *isn’t* addressing contemporary homosexual orientation/practice and it *doesn’t* matter

1.) This is the standard view in most evangelical churches as well as
the official Roman Catholic and East Orthodox perspective. In essence,
our English translations of ‘homosexual’ in the NT are to be trusted
and affirmed as addressing precisely the same kind of homosexual
orientation and activity as we see today among monogamous and
non-married homosexual persons. Because Scripture is inspired and
profitable for teaching, we should see this as prescriptive for moral
and Godly living today, teaching it accordingly.

2.) Paul is talking about contemporary homosexual
orientation/action, but it’s up to us, the Church, to decide whether
this is binding for today. Now lest you think this is an option only
for hippie-dippy liberal revisionists, think again: The church *always*
interprets Scripture for today. The evangelical church, for instance,
decided that was Jesus told one guy (Nicodemus) about being ‘born
again’ was binding on all people everywhere, whereas what he told
another guy (the rich young ruler) about selling all possessions and
giving them to the poor was virtually never applicable! We’ve also
decided that Peter’s admonition of women not to wear braids or jewelry
because of sinful pride was culturally-conditioned and temporary, as is
Paul’s admonition of women to wear head-coverings, even though he seems
to appeal to some pretty cosmic and universal principles for doing so.
In the same manner, some good Christian people (and churches) conclude
that Paul was simply mistaken about homosexual orientation &
practice, or that his teaching was culturally-appropriate for his era
but actually harmful and contrary to the Gospel for ours. We the Church
are always ‘binding an loosing’ interpretations of our Holy Writ…an
awesome and wonderful responsibility.

3.) Many biblical scholars puzzle over the actual meaning of
arsenokoitai, the Greek word Paul used which is translated from King
James on as ‘homosexuals.’ (See explanation) In short, many think that
Paul is writing about pedastry – man-boy love – and temple prostitution
where otherwise ‘straight’ people become ‘gay for a day’ (only not
really) to engage in debasing pagan rituals. So Paul is in fact,
according to this perspective, writing about the primacy of love and
consideration, and against harmful idolatry. 2,000 years of translation
later and we lose sight of context and original intent. Most
sociologists agree that contemporary loving, monogamous homosexual
orientation didn’t even exist until relatively contemporary
times…therefore we are dealing with, strictly speaking, an
‘extra-biblical’ phenomenon that should, perhaps, be looked at through
a different lens than seemingly ‘obvious’ passages in Scripture. We
should instead appeal to Jesus and Paul’s clear teaching on love,
freedom and liberty of conscience, while upholding healthy Christian
standards of monogamy and sexuality that we’d encourage anyone of *any*
orientation to keep as best as possible.

4.) Number 4 is a bit of a non-sequitur, as I think you can see. : )

My personal .02: I think it’s possible to hold any of these four
(really three) perspectives with love and integrity, shining Christ’s
life into everyone we meet. I also think it’s possible to hold any of
these with pride, fear, and hostility, using them as battering rams to
force those who disagree into feeling marginalized, sinful, and ‘less
than.’ One of the things I’ve appreciated about certain trends emerging
expressions of faith is that people who hold to all three of the above
(and yes, there are plenty of ’emergers’ who hold to #1) can peacefully
coexist and even encourage one another. Thanks Tony for your
(sometimes-seemingly futile) attempts to create a spiritually
hospitable place for everyone.

Advertisement

Previous Posts
Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus