From: george murphy (gmurphy@raex.com)
Date: Thu Aug 09 2001 - 10:57:21 EDT

  • Next message: George Hammond: "Re: Taking Scripture seriously"

            I am going to try to turn this discussion to a more profitable topic
    Iain brings up that is within the "science- -religion" area proper to the asa
    list & to which the asa could make a real contribution by engaging in some
    serious study with a minimum of preconceptions. I refer to homosexuality. The
    topic has been discussed ad nauseam in recent years, but often without adequate
    attention to either theological or scientific concerns or to the way in which
    theology should take science into account. I first respond on a couple of
    points of preliminary relevance.

    "iain.strachan2" wrote:

    > However, I sense in todays world there is a tendency, even among Christians
    > to pick and choose the things we like and reject those we don't like.


            The "pick & choose" syndrome is a serious problem. But it shouldn't be
    confused with serious study of the Bible which concludes that some traditional
    interpretations of scripture are inadequate & that others are more appropriate
    either to the intention of the biblical writers or to the nature of the real
    world. That is not the same thing as just saying that parts of the Bible should
    just be ignored.

    > (1) If I recall correctly, some months ago, there was a thread of discussion
    > on this list as to whether we can construct a theology based entirely on the
    > New Testament, and leaving out the Old. The conclusion was reached, I think
    > that you couldn't do it, but the very fact that the discussion took place
    > seems to imply that many people would rather do without the Old testament.
    > Someone even went as far as to ask the question about what possible use or
    > relevance the first three chapters of Genesis had. I'm frankly astonished
    > that such things can be considered - and again, this has little to do with
    > whether you take Genesis literally or not.

            I initiated this thread, which was more or less speculative thread, &
    labelled as such, with a more limited scope. My question was whether an
    adequate doctrine of creation could be formulated from the NT alone. The
    intention was not to get rid of the OT! But if Christ is the center of
    Christian faith & creation is "through him" and "for him" &c, one ought to be
    able to begin the discussion of creation christologically. The OT should not be
    abandoned, but it is to be read in light of the New.
            This is relevant to the discussion of homosexuality. Jesus' attitude as
    portrayed in the gospel is often one of breaking down divisions between people
    which are, or seemed to be, imposed by torah:
    Jew/Samaritan, clean/leper, men/women - & most importantly, righteous/sinner.
    It's legitimate to ask if this may have some importance for our attitude toward
    homosexuality. N.B. This does NOT show that homosexuality is OK! An argument
    from silence (Jesus never condemned homosexuality so he must have approved of
    it) is of course logically invalid. But it is theologically invalid to cite OT
    passages that call male homosexual behavior an "abomination" (with fine
    disregard for the fact that eating shellfish is in the same category) & think
    that that settles the matter.
            (Yes, I know that there are NT passages which do deal with
    homosexuality, most importantly Romans 1. & no, I don't think the relevant OT
    passages should be ignored.)

    (3) Though it's politically incorrect to draw attention to such things,

    > many Anglican clergy are talking about having gay marriage services.
    > Apparently here's another bit of the bible (OT and NT) that is supposedly no
    > longer relevant to today's society.

             The following questions - theological, ethical, and scientific - need
    to be dealt with in a thorough discussion of this topic. I refrain at this
    point from including my own answers. (Some may wonder why I make a point of
    distinguishing between male & female homosexuality but a little reflection on
    the relevant biblical texts makes it clear that male & female homosexuality are
    not dealt with symmetrically. It also takes only elementary science to show
    that boys & girls are different.)
            Note also that I have capitalized part of question 9. This addresses a
    crucial theological question about science-theology dialogue which extends well
    beyond this topic.

            1. What does the Bible says about God's intention for creation in
    connection with human sexuality?

            2. Does the Bible say anything positive about homosexual behavior
    (i.e., expressions of genital sexuality?)

            3. What were the reasons, in the context of the biblical writers, for
    the biblical condemnations of male homosexual behavior?

            4. What were the reasons, in the context of the biblical writers, for
    the biblical condemnation of female homosexual behavior?

            5. Do some persons have a "homosexual orientation" which they have not
    voluntarily chosen?
    (To avoid undue verbiage, the way I have posed some of the following questions
    assumes the answer to this to be "yes." If not, some changes in the following
    are needed & some questions become irrelevant.)

            6. If the answer to 5. is "yes," is this orientation hereditary (which
    may mean, but is not limited to, genetic), formed by environmental influences,
    or a combination of the two?

            7. Is there a realistic possibility of genuine "conversion" of an adult
    person of homosexual orientation to a reasonably happy heterosexual lifestyle?

            8. Repeat questions 5 and 6 for the concept of "bisexual."

            9. Questions 5 through 8 have been been about the knowledge of human
    nature which can be gained scientifically. DOES THIS SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE HAVE

            10. Does the Bible, explicitly or implicitly, recognize the concept of
    sexual orientation, as distinguished from sexual behavior?

            11. Do biblical condemnations of homosexual behavior apply also to
    sexual orientation?

            12. Do biblical condemnations of homosexual behavior have the same
    significance for persons of homosexual orientation that they do for
    heterosexuals or bisexuals who choose to engage in such behavior?

            13. Is homosexual orientation "contrary to nature?" Is homosexual
    behavior? In either case, why or why not?

            14. Are traditional heterosexual attitudes toward homosexuality
    primarily formed by religious concerns or are they primarily a matter of taste -
    i.e., gut reaction?

            15. Is the possibility of committed, loving, one-to-one relationships
    between male homosexuals realistic, or is promiscuity connected in some basic
    way with male homosexual orientation?

            16. Is the possibility of committed, loving, one-to-one relationships
    between female homosexuals realistic, or is promiscuity connected in some basic
    way with female homosexual orientation?

            17. Should the civil authority give legal recognition to some sort of
    union between homosexuals? If so, should they be consider "marriages?"

            18. Should the church give ecclesial recognition and blessing to some
    sort of union between homosexuals? If so, should they be consider "marriages?"

            19. Should the church knowingly accept non-celibate homosexuals as
    members "in good standing"?

            20. Should the church knowingly ordain non-celibate homosexuals?



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Dialogue"

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Aug 09 2001 - 10:57:36 EDT