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Saturday, July 26, 2008

David Gushee & Path to Discernment on Homosexuality

Baptist ethicist and Associated Baptist Press editorial-writer David Gushee recently put out his third article in the past four months on homosexuality.

Gushee's first article was appropriately titled "On homosexuality, can we at least talk about it?"

Gushee stated his purpose for this series up front:

...to begin a dialogue in this column by simply calling for the rudiments of Christian love of neighbor to extend to the homosexual. And the place to begin is in the church -- that community of faith in which we have (reportedly) affirmed that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Gushee called for the following Christian commitments:
  • -- The complete rejection of still-common forms of speech in which anti-homosexual slurs (“queer,” “fag”) are employed either in jest or in all seriousness
  • -- The complete rejection of a heart attitude of hatred, loathing, and fear toward homosexuals
  • -- The complete rejection of any form of bullying directed against homosexuals or those thought to be homosexuals
  • -- The complete rejection of political demagoguery in which homosexuals are scapegoated for our nation's social ills and used as tools for partisan politics
  • -- The complete rejection of casual, imprecise and erroneous factual claims about homosexuality in preaching, teaching or private speech, such as, “All homosexuals choose to be that way.”
  • -- The complete recognition of the full dignity and humanity of the homosexual as a person made in God's image and sacred in God's sight
  • -- The complete recognition that in any faith community of any size one will find persons wrestling with homosexuality, either in their own lives or the lives of people that they love
  • -- The complete recognition that when Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, that includes especially our homosexual neighbors, because the more a group is hated, the more they need Christ's love through us
All good commitments. I can't tell you how many times I've "heard" hateful slur terms like "sodomite" used in a certain segment of the Baptist blogosphere...by pastors. But I digress...

Gushee's second article was titled "On homosexuality, whose narrative do we believe?"

Gushee concludes:

The deeper question is posed by the competing narratives presented above. Either homosexual behavior is by definition sinful, or it is not. If it is sinful by definition, then presumably it must be resisted like any other sin. If it is not sinful by definition, then the homosexuality issue is a liberation/justice struggle for a victimized group. Probably the right answer to this question will be very clear to everyone (that is, to 99% of all reasonable Christian human beings) in 100 years, as the proper positions on slavery and Nazism and civil rights and Apartheid are to modern-day Christians. But in real time, right now, it is tearing churches and denominations apart here and around the world.

Now, in his most recent article on homosexuality, The Path to Discernment on Homosexuality, Gushee writes:
I have sought to suggest in a handful of columns in recent months that a rethinking of the church's stance on homosexuality is needed. Reading in the scholarly literature, one sees that some very fine Christian minds are at work on this issue. Moving well beyond old clichés and prejudices, these scholars, many of them quite conservative both methodologically and theologically, are wrestling with the idea that Christians may need to revise centuries-old teaching about homosexuality. Some of these thinkers are concluding that in fact a revision is needed; others are not persuaded. It would be a significant ethical-doctrinal change, though such change is not unprecedented in Christian history (e.g., slavery, segregation, sexism, state killing in the name of Christ, etc.).
And Gushee concludes:

We need a careful, unhurried process of Christian discernment related to scriptural teachings, our theological understanding of homosexuality, and church practices in relation to homosexuals, undertaken by those who are committed unequivocally to every (other) dimension of the classic Christian sexual ethic -- in which sex belongs within marriage (lifetime, exclusive, covenant partnerships), marriage is for life, and the church is a disciplined countercultural community in which these norms are both taught and lived.

The question on the table would be whether Christian homosexuals who live according to these norms should be treated as faithful members of the Christian community.

Gushee promises to continue this much needed conversation in his future columns. If you haven't already, catch up on this important series. The new, nice layout at Associated Baptist Press now allows readers to leave comments. Check that out too.

Also, my theologian friend Michael Westmoreland-White has just completed a 17-part series on homosexuality over at his blog called Levellers. His must-read series is titled GLBT Persons in the Church: A Case for Full Inclusion.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Chad Reed said...

thanks for posting this. this is some good stuff!

6:50 AM

 
Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Thanks for the shout out, BDW. I will be finishing the GLBT series today. There is one post left. Dave and I have had many discussions on the topic--we don't see eye to eye, but his approach is much superior to the hatred approach of Dobson and co.

10:00 AM

 
Blogger Cat's Dad said...

Dobson and co. doesn't use a hatred of homosexuals approach. Like God, we are to hate the sin, not the sinner. We condone neither.

9:14 PM

 
Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Cat's Dad must know a different James Dobson. The one I am talking about is OBSESSED with this issue--and even in an early edition of Dare to Discipline told fathers to prevent their sons from becoming gay by taking showers with them!!!

Al Mohler is worse. Several months ago on his radio show he said that if scientists isolate the genetic causes of same-sex attraction, it would be a DUTY of Christian parents to have their kids "fixed" in the womb! In practice, this would result in numerous abortions. I suspect that most fundamentalists who oppose abortion (as opposed to seamless garment folk who oppose abortion as part of a blanket opposition to all violence, including capital punishment and war) hate gays so much that they will endorse aborting fetuses that are predisposed to being gay just as soon as science is able to screen for such. They are genocidal in their opposition to gays--no matter how much they CLAIM to "love the sinner."

4:22 AM

 
Blogger mom2 said...

There is such a rush to condone homosexuality that the eternal destiny of those needing redemption and salvation is being overlooked, while condemning those who would dare to believe the Bible and call sin for what it is. Since no one can know another's heart, it is just as unfair to judge your Christian brothers and sister hearts as it is to judge the homosexual. Each person's own bias causes them to try to understand each other.

6:50 AM

 
Blogger mom2 said...

that last sentence was meant to say causes us NOT to understand each other.

6:52 AM

 
Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

"Rush to condone homosexuality." Yeah, I see that. That must be why people go into the services of gay-friendly churches and shoot them up.

1:56 PM

 
Blogger Cat's Dad said...

Michael,

Your last comment, which seems to infer that murderers targeting gay-friendly church victims have some connection to the convictions of Mom2, or anyone in this conversation, is snide, unseemly, lacking grace and love and, in my opinion, totally out of place on this blog.

Now, on your previous comment, "becoming" homosexual is the key word. I don't know about Mohler's statement, but I don't believe there is a GENETIC cause for same-sex attraction, so it's a mute point with me. I think there's a SIN cause for "becoming" homosexual, and so does Dobson. I also think there's a SIN cause for "becoming" a murderer, a pedophile, a liar or an adulterer.

We don't need to tell any of these that they or their actions are okay and to carry on. We don't hate them or condemn them, but we do exhort them to "Go and sin no more." And, we don't need to ordain these or put them in positions of teaching or church leadership.

8:14 PM

 
Blogger Alexis said...

I don't actually think that Michael was trying to lump Mom2 in with the violent attacks on gay-friendly churches. I think he was just pointing to evidence that her statement about a rush to condone homosexuality was far overstated.

6:26 AM

 
Blogger mom2 said...

Alexis, I'm going to be 69 years old soon and let me tell you that what is going on today does seem like a rush. This is some of the tolerance that we Christians are being told to observe, while God's Word about the issue is being pushed back and considered out dated. I pray that you and BDW will know God's will and way in your up coming marriage. God Bless!

5:58 AM

 
Blogger Cat's Dad said...

Alexis,

Michael made his comment in reference to and as a retort to what Mom2 said--that is, that the church and Christians were rushing to condone homosexuality, and shouldn't. He said that the recent murders of gay-friendly church goers point to the fact that her statement wasn't true. By implication, the murderers then--according to Michael's statement--must be associated with non-gay-condoning Christians and churches.

If he wasn't lumping mom2 in with the murderers, at best his point is mute and baseless--the murders have nothing to do with mom2's assertion about the Christian church.

Don't give him too much credit or blindly accept the point you think he's trying to make.

2:42 PM

 
Blogger Cat's Dad said...

Incidently, I'm all for the death penalty being imposed on the murderer of the gay-friendly universalist church-goers.

I gather that Michael and most on this blog aren't, based on the other post regarding the CBF workshop Michael led.

2:44 PM

 

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