Today I saw this on Facebook. Foolishly, I responded. I considered it important to do so not because I feel hateful toward those in same-sex relationships or toward Christians who affirm these relationships, but because this image is utterly misleading when it comes to exploring what I will call an orthodox understanding of Scripture, tradition and sexuality. Without further ado, highlights from the conversation:
Me: This image is not a serious engagement with Christian thought or tradition. It is a polemic which borrows some text-crticial phrases to make those who disagree seem ignorant and hateful.
It makes unsupported assumptions about what the OT and NT mean, points which are highly contested and are not nearly as settled as the image suggests. And even if you do admit that either the OT means what is says, or that Paul has an authoritative voice for all Christians, you are branded as behind the times.
I affirm your right to follow a rational line of inquiry and arrive at a conclusion which is different to mine. Just please do not use these kind of crass straw-man arguments and thinly-veiled polemics to merely make one position LOOK more rational, rather than demonstrating WHY that position is more rational.
Response: No one is disputing that the OT or Paul said that the gays are wicked, it is just pointing out that if you take everything in the bible at face value, then you end up in the tricky situation of making women cover their heads in church, and stoning women who get raped in the city because ‘they didn’t shout loud enough’. Unless you do do that, then I don’t believe one has a leg to stand on condemning homosexuality on the sole grounds that the bible says it’s wrong.
Me: Neither the OT nor the NT say this. One reading, and indeed the reading which the church has typically affirmed, would say that same-sex relationships are not appropriate for the godly. The idea of a “gay person” is totally unfamiliar to the Christian scriptures and tradition.
The church has not typically argued that “the Bible says homosexuality is wrong”. It has argued that the monogamous relationship of a man and a woman is God’s plan for human flourishing. Now, there is of course room to argue against that on theological, moral, and scriptural grounds but the point is that this is not a case of one group systematically victimising “the gays”.
Response: my point still stands that I am uninterested in the bible’s thoughts on same-sex relationships until I am provided with a valid explanation as to why I should take that teaching seriously, but not the teaching on stoning women who get raped in the city.
God’s plan for humans flourishing was that men could have many wives and treat them as inferiors and do all kinds of unsavoury things. Most people would say that that has changed now. So why can homosexuals not have sex in private? It’s not as if they have any interest in heterosexual sex, so they’re not wasting valuable procreation time, as they wouldn’t be procreating anyway.
The discussion goes on but this section of the exchange demonstrates really why this image is a poor argument.