Excellent article on scripture and homosexuality

Joel Cannon (cannon@alpha.centenary.edu)
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 09:33:32 -0600 (CDT)

The issue seems to have cooled a bit, but here is a post I prepared
last week but delayed because I didn't have a reference for the
article I site.

> Burgy:
> There are two recent books which address this issue which Mike asserts I am
> either
> ignorant about or deliberately being misleading. One, by Helmeniak, an R.C.
> priest,
> makes the case that the Bible is silent on the subject; the second, by Schmidt,
> takes a
> contrary opinion.

An article that I found outstanding and useful is Richard B. Hays
"Relations Natural and Unnatural: A response to John Boswell's
exegesis of Romans 1." THE JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS ETHICS, 14:184-215.
Spring 1986

It would also be useful to read John Boswell's "Christianity, Social
Tolerance, and Homosexuality." Written very well, the book challenges
traditional views of gay issues and history, and creates a much
broader historical context in which to understand the issue. In
reading it, it became very clear to me that this was an issue where a
lay person had to rely on specialized historical and literary
scholarship. His thesis based on early Christian literature and
historical analysis including the prevalence of homosexuality in Greek
and Roman culture was that the church was not hostile to homosexuality
(up till about 300 a.d.). Boswell also published a much more controversial
sequel which seemed to have much less basis for his arguments.

Hays' review is very careful. Although charitable, it challenges
Boswell's exegesis and his use of historical data. A friend of mine
who knows Hays told me that Hays had tried to set up an appointment
with Boswell (they were both at Yale at the time) to discuss his use
of Greek, etc. but that Boswell would not meet with him (possibly
because he didn't want to be confronted with knowledgeable
criticism). Importantly, the sense of charitableness and fairness that
I got from reading Hays stood in stark contrast to much writing I have
seen where the authors are so emotionally repulsed by homosexuality
that a fair hearing seems unlikely.

I am told that Hays has a sequel article, written as a friend is dying
of AIDS which deals with more personal struggles related to being
faithful and loving homosexuals. If people are interested, I will
publish the reference when I can find it.

Joel W. Cannon cannon@alpha.centenary.edu
Dept. of Physics
Centenary College of Louisiana
P. O. Box 41188
Shreveport, LA 71134-1188

(318)869-5026 FAX