In part I am responding to a four-part series of posts on the 4 Simpsons blog entitled “Problems with pro-gay theology”. An efficient way to get to the series is to go to his site and click on the “Sexuality” category tag. (If anyone is curious, I don’t identify myself precisely with any of his 3 problematic categories, though I think he’d disagree there. Just as my discussion will reflect my biases, his discussion reflects his.)
I say ‘in part’ because I am not intending this to be a direct rebuttal of the points made on 4 Simpsons. I’m not interested in rehashing previous arguments I’ve put forth that would serve as rebuttals, and I don’t want to start a technical debate after he’s already posted his views and won’t have the chance to respond in the course of his discussion.
I say strengths and weaknesses because the weaknesses are what I’d like to focus on, but I thought it would be interesting to give more thought to what the strengths of the ‘opposition’ (to me at least) are theologically. The end result might be interesting. At this point, I don’t think that the strengths of anti-homosexual theology are very compelling personally, but I will also try to be fair in mentioning some of them. In talking about the strengths of this theology, I am going to be looking at it as someone who thinks and interprets in my own way – these are what I see as strengths, not what other supporters of the anti-homosexual viewpoint would necessarily see. I imagine that other strengths will once again come out in the comments section for both sides.
So, to be super-clear, as always these are my opinions. Your opinions are welcome in the comments section, on your own blogs, etc.
I’m going to limit myself to 3 of each – 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses, mostly because I tend to ramble on and on, and also because I am strapped for time recently (my new job is at Borders, and, well…Harry Potter).
So, here are 3 strengths of anti-homosexual theology that I can come up with:
1. Anti-homosexual theology seems to have Biblical support, in that there are passages which apparently condemn some homosexual behaviors as sinful, or abominable.
2. Anti-homosexual theology draws upon a long cultural and religious tradition of anti-homosexual thought, including the majority of theologians and interpreters throughout Church history.
3. Anti-homosexual theology is rooted in an insistence in the importance of every word of the Bible as directly intended by God in the form(s) we now have it.
Here are 3 weaknesses of anti-homosexual theology that I can come up with:
1. Anti-homosexual theology necessitates ignoring the majority of modern scientific findings in the area of human sexuality.
2. Anti-homosexual theology necessitates ignoring Biblical admonitions about who is part of the kingdom of God in favor of particular passages which seem to single out homosexual behavior (which is possible given adherence to #1).
3. Anti-homosexual theology is rooted in Biblical literalism, and is therefore weakened when the concept of Biblical literalism is demonstrated to be tenuous at best and idolatrous at worst.
On a lark, I might discuss these as well (but they’re not in bold because I’m not dealing with them yet):
Here are 3 strengths of pro-homosexual theology that come to mind:
1. Pro-homosexual theology seems to have Biblical support, in that there are passages which apparently condemn denying others a place in the Christian community based on things that are not under their control – gender, birth status, ethnicity, etc – and which are also not damaging to the community.
2. Pro-homosexual theology draws on modern social and hard sciences and the increasing evidence that sexual orientation is not, in most cases, a choice, but rather the result of a complex of factors in which genetics and environment loom large.
3. Pro-homosexual theology draws on a long history of moral and ethical reflection on human rights and human dignity, as well as on the moral reflection found in Scripture which places the ethic of love above all others at all times. It continues the same line of reasoning (in theology and outside of it) which has overturned “traditional” views on slavery, ethnicity and gender, to name a few examples.
And here are 3 weakensse of pro-homosexual theology:
1. Pro-homosexual theology has to contend with an apparent majority opinion, in the United States at least, that homosexual relations are often, or always, immoral. It is therefore often the minority position, and as such has a greater responsibility to prove its claims.
2. Pro-homosexual theology has to contend with a theological tradition in which the anti-homosexual position has essentially been the majority (“orthodox”) position.
3. Pro-homosexual theology depends a great deal on modern scientific analysis and ethics, and therefore is vulnerable to scientific findings that contradict its position. This also means that the pro-homosexual position will often appear to be weaker Biblically because it draws from outside sources of information and inspiration.
So, that sets the scene, so to speak. Following, I’ll probably have a post on the strengths with a couple paragraphs on each, and then a post on the weaknesses. Then I’ll go back to Googling myself to see who is flaming me on their blogs.
I’m definitely open to changing what I list as strengths and weaknesses if interesting ones come up in conversation. I’m actually doing this to learn more about the opposing position, if possible, as well as to refine my own views a bit where I can.