Sex, Marriage, and Sexuality: February 2007 Archives

Al Mohler thinks Christians are going to have a harder time with the homosexuality issue than most other problems that future generations look back on and wonder what all the fuss was about. His reason is that there is no middle ground on homosexuality. [ht: Mark Olson] He quotes Theo Hobson:

Firstly, this is an issue that shuns compromise. It has a stark "either/or" quality. Either homosexuality is a fully valid alternative to heterosexuality or it is not. There is no room for compromise, no third way: poor Rowan Williams is trying to make himself a perch on a barbed-wire fence. You don't find such absoluteness in other moral debates, such a complete absence of shared assumptions and aims. This is not a normal moral debate but a pure clash of visceral responses.

Mohler adds his own agreement:

It is refreshing to see Hobson point to the "either/or" character of this controversy. He is precisely right -- there is no middle ground -- no third way. Homosexuality will be seen as either normal or sinful. Everything hinges on that assessment. If it is accepted as normal, those who consider it sinful will be seen as repressive, hateful, and dangerous to the good of society. This, he argues, is where the church now stands.

I disagree, very strongly. I've argued several times throughout the history of this blog that there is indeed a third position. Homosexuality need not be seen as either normal or sinful. It might be seen, as the apostle Paul saw it, as a consequence of the fall. Homosexuality is a condition whose social construction doesn't exactly fit the categories of NT Christians, and so Paul shouldn't be expected to have anything to say about what we call homosexuality. He did state very clearly that gay sex is sinful, but that's an action. I think, by extension, he'd agree that it's bad to deliberately and willingly accept the category of being gay as part of one's identity. But I don't think either gay sex or such identification with homosexuality is the same thing as homosexuality itself. Homosexuality is merely a condition people find themselves in. That can no more be sinful than a married heterosexual finding themselves attracted to people of the opposite sex besides their spouse.

Now I don't expect Mohler to agree with my position. But surely it is a third position of the sort he has ruled out without argument. (The way Hobson stated his binary, it's possible he'd see the third view as agreeing that homosexuality is not a fully valid alternative to heterosexuality, and thus his binary might remain. But Mohler clearly rules out a view like this one.) Since John Piper holds exactly the view I have just outlined, it's not as if no prominent evangelical has put it forward. There are places where a biblical view is going to come up against the view that nothing is bad at all about homosexuality. But I don't think it's a good idea to state it the way Mohler did, which rules out the view that homosexuality is an unfortunate condition tied up with an inclination toward certain sins but that the condition itself isn't sinful.

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