I’ve posted on homosexuality before (more than once), most recently
in conjunction with discussions around the biblioblogosphere (see e.g. Metacatholic
– the latter, ironically enough, sounds like it could be the Sanskrit for “sorta phallic shaped”. There are some interesting posts relevant to this subject at Scot McKnight’s blog Jesus Creed
. There are of course many blogs
that touch on the subject one way or the other). But it seems that there is no way to adequately discuss same-sex relationships from a Christian perspective, without talking about sex in general, and more specifically, asking the following question:
What makes sex good or bad?
No, I don’t mean what makes it great
as far as mutual enjoyment
is concerned, but what makes it licit or illicit, positive or negative, praiseworthy or the target of condemnation.
It seems clear that simply quoting Bible verses will not answer this question. There is much in the Bible that reflects views of sex (and what is sexy
, for that matter) that are no longer current today. The Bible only condemns using a slave girl for a man’s sexual satisfaction if she is promised to another man
, and doesn’t treat it the same as if this were a free individual. How would one apply that
today?! Nor is the practice of concubinage
condemned. Indeed, this might be one of those places where, if those rebelling against conservative Christian sexual mores were to really dig into the Bible, they could use it to good effect!
But as any Christian theologian who is not a fundamentalist will acknowledge, simply quoting Bible verses will not settle this matter (or any matter, for that matter). One must take into account what we know about our evolutionary history. If we had evolved from swans, there would quite possibly have little or nothing about sex in our various world Scriptures. But we didn’t, and that provides us with a particular legacy and a particular framework to work within. One must take into account changes in the age at which people tend to reach puberty and changes in the age at which people tend to marry. One must discuss matters of psychology. One must address the imbalance in the ways sexually active males and females are viewed both in ancient texts and in modern cultures. One must ask how much of the Bible’s teachings, and our own cultural heritage, had to do with preventing pregnancy out of wedlock and the shame that accompanied it, rather than anything intrinsically to do with sex per se.
What, if we take this approach, could we expect society as a whole to agree on in terms of basic principles? I doubt that most people want a complete free-for-all. Few would consider the existence of a minimum legal age inappropriate. And I suspect that even in our libertine age many people would prefer it if their life partner were not comparing their performance to that of others they’ve been with. But there is a need both to define a bare minimum within which consenting adults can do what they personally deem right, and to define a Christian
position that holds values like love and fidelity as the standard to which Christians seek to hold themselves.
There are all sorts of angles and issues (“positions” didn’t seem like the right word). But ultimately we need to revisit the question of what makes any particular sex act right or wrong, good or evil. Unless we have some such principles in place, we are unlikely to make much progress discussing the specifics of same-sex sex.
What do you think? Please do share your unique perspectives and experiences – anonymously if necessary. But do also join in the discussion with your own usual online identity, since this is an issue that is ultimately about interpersonal relations: both matters of sex, marriage, love, and reproduction, but also the interpersonal interactions necessary to hammer out guidelines and debate issues as a democratic society.