There has been a lot of discussion here recently about
homosexuality. Much of it has been to the point but there has not been
a lot of exploration of some fundamental theological questions which are
crucial for the way we approach this - and other - issues. May I
suggest that some attention to these would be useful?
1. What are the relative roles and importances of (a) natural law
arguments and (b) biblical injunctions in dealing with ethical issues?
2. How do we understand the role of natural law in view of the fact
that our understandings of what is natural
(a) may change with time, and
(b) may be culturally conditioned?
[In illustration of the latter point: Paul does indeed describe
homosexuality as "unnatural" (para phusin) in Rom.1:26-27 but in I
Cor.11:14 he also says that "nature itself teaches" (he phusis aute
didaskei) that it is degrading for a man to have long hair.]
3. Can we differentiate between OT laws that (a) express
permanently valid religious or ethical principles and (b) those that are
essentially the civil law of ancient Israel which Christians are not
obligated to follow? (Shaun Rose's post "Some questions for Kamilla"
suggested, tongue in cheek, some examples in the latter category.) If
such a distinction is legitimate, what criteria do we use to decide
whether prohibitions of eating shellfish or of homosexual intercourse
between males fall in category (a) or (b)?
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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