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Gay Theology: Is God "Doing a New Thing"?

Gay Theology: Is God "Doing a New Thing"?

Telling the Truth at the speed of life
LEADERSHIP U

June 22, 2006

This could be called the summer of triumph for gay theology. The majority opinion on the Supreme Court's highly controversial decision to overturn Texas' sodomy laws plainly opened doors to viewing law as responsive to cultural vicissitudes. In keeping with the prevailing winds of culture, never has so much official sanction been given to active homosexuality in the Church, indeed even at leadership levels.

Despite plenty of internecine jostling, an Anglican minister in British Columbia blessed the union of a gay couple. Then, the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire elected openly gay priest V. Gene Robinson as bishop.

In defiance of directives from the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, titular head of the worldwide Anglican church (known as Episcopal Church in the U.S.) and despite protests of bishops the world over, ECUSA bishops approved Robinson's election soon afterwards. This renders the denomination "formally heretical," according to conservative theologian Kendall Harmon, who also edits the Anglican Digest.

In response, conservative American bishops expressed deep sadness and regret that the Church had stepped outside the bounds of ages–old tradition and the "plain teaching of Scripture," according to a report in World. Archbishop Williams warned of "irrevocable fallout" and foreign prelates began denouncing the move immediately. A split in the worldwide body seems eminent to many.

Other mainline denominations in the U.S., like United Methodists, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Churches of Christ are all at some stage of either studying the issue in an "open" manner and leaning pro–gay or already acting out this decision with gay ceremonies and clergy-out of step, it seems, with many who fill their pews.

A poll conducted last week by the Washington Post revealed "heavy opposition" to "blessings of gay couples."

In fact, the Post reports that, "Half of all Americans who regularly attend worship services [including those outside mainline churches] say they would leave their church if their minister blessed gay couples-even if their denomination officially approved those ceremonies."

Evangelicals, Pentecostals, independent churches and other Christians remain strongly opposed and their members often wonder at how Christians could even entertain such notions as liturgies to bless the union of same–sex couples. Nothing less than the definition of marriage is at stake.

Ethicist Max Stackhouse of Princeton University claims, as many others like Dr. Robert Gagnon have, that this opens the door to the sanction of any kind of pairing at all, including incest and multiple partners.

These issues and a broad discussion of the entire Bible's teachings along with a personal testimony of an ex–gay pastor are among the topics covered in our Special Focus:

* Just what does the relatively new gay theology claim regarding the meaning of marriage, the Bible's view of homosexual intercourse and its ramifications for leadership in the Church?
* Recent soundbites by pro–homosexual Churchmen reveal viewpoints regarding Jesus' teaching of homosexuality (or His relative silence on the matter) and defunct Levitical laws that purportedly belie the ongoing prohibition of homosexual acts.
* What is the trajectory of biblical teaching on the topic, in the Old and New Testaments?
* Do the proscriptions of Leviticus and Romans mean that homosexuality is forbidden for all people in all times, or were these writings products of a different mindset in a different time?
* Were the texts only prohibiting same-sex intercourse in cases of rape or in relation to idolatry?
* Should we "reimagine" a Church that not only accepts gays, but approves of, even celebrates, a lifestyle in opposition to thousands of years of tradition?
* Just what authority does Scripture wield, anyway, especially regarding sexuality?
* Does good hermeneutics take literally the "plain teaching" against homosexuality?
* Is God, as the new bishop Robinson (in)famously said last week, "doing a new thing"?

Featured Articles: Critiques of Pro-Gay Theology

Responding to Pro-Gay Theology Joe Dallas This article addresses pro-gay theology by dividing its tenets into three categories: social justice arguments, general religious arguments, and scriptural arguments. A brief description of these positions is provided, followed by a response/rebuttal to each.

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: An Overview of Some Issues Dr. Robert Gagnon Theologian Robert Gagnon, in an interview, argues that both Testaments of the Bible are replete with explicit and implicit prohitibions of same-sex intercourse. He also responds to common claims regarding homosexuality and Scripture: Levitical laws don't apply, prohibitions (e.g. regarding Sodom)only pertain to rape, that Jesus was virtually silent on the issue, implying a lack of importance, that society's acceptance should be matched by the Church and that love and tolerance would demand acceptance of same-sex unions.

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Theology, Analogies, and Genes Dr. Robert Gagnon Gagnon demonstrates explicit proscriptions against homosexual practice in Scripture, denies a theology of inclusion for homosexuals for inclusions' sake, analyzes analogies for disregarding Scripture's stance on homosexuality and takes issue with the Bible's alleged ignorance of innate and immutable homosexual desires (while he maintains for individual culpability). He also briefly critiques the claims of neurological and genetic primary causes for homosexual desires.

What Does the Bible Really Say About Homosexual Issues? Tony Marco Marco thoroughly analyzes and contrasts biblical passages regarding homosexuality and queer theology.

Homosexual Theology Kerby Anderson A response to several arguments offered by pro-gay theologians: the sin of Sodom, Mosaic law, New Testament passages, and "God made me gay."

The Apostle Paul on Sexuality: A Response Dr. Robert Gagnon Gagnon dismantles the arguments he considers concocted by Neil Elliott to argue that the Apostle Paul in Rom 1:18-32 was thinking only of the emperor Nero and a predecessor, Gaius "Caligula," both of whom were connected with emperor worship and sexual excesses. Paul allegedly did not have in view "faithful and loving" homosexual unions. A good example of a specific application of gay theology critiqued.

Gay Marriage: Reimagining Church History Robin Darling Book review of "Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe" by John Boswell. Darling skewers Boswell's historical scholarship and argumentation. She places him alongside other opportunistic historians who "set out to create a usable past," that is, to manufacture a historical precendent through dubious appeals to ancient rites that fit contemporary preferences-in this case the supposed blessing of homosexual unions.

Rescuing the Gospel from Bishop Spong Don Closson This essay considers and responds to Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong's view of the Bible and historical Christian beliefs as found in his book "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism." Spong's views, based upon a low and anti-supernatural view of Scripture, include the notion that the Apostle Paul was a "guilt-ridden homosexual" and that biblical norms on sexuality, etc. are out of step with modern life.

Featured Articles: Gay Theology's Effect on the Church

"Formally heretical" Edward E. Plowman (World) Election of the first openly gay bishop crosses "a major line" and leads the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) into a "profound pastoral crisis" that likely will lead to a worldwide split.

Wandering Shepherds Gene Edward Veith (World) Anglicans-now dealing publicly with the ordination of active homosexuals and blessing of same-sex unions-have had non-Christian bishops for decades, and heresy is even more harmful than homosexuality.

Religious Left Pushes Sexual Liberation Mark Tooley (Insight) The Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing sponsored by SEICUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) "advocates acceptance of homosexuality and pornography, full abortion rights and the provision of contraceptives to underage youth." Signatories included members of mainline Christian denominations, Jewish groups, New Agers, humanists and pagans.

United Methodists at the End of the Mainline Professor William J. Abraham The United Methodist Church stands at a critical moment. Three groups, the liberals, radicals, and conservatives, are finding their uneasy compromise difficult to maintain. Especially regarding the issues of morality, such as homosexuality, tension among the diverse factions has long since created crisis. Abraham even questions the very basis of the theological pluralism that blended the highly divergent groups.

Gays, Lesbians and Lutherans James Nuechterlein Nuechterlein, himself a Lutheran, blasts one study of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Typical of its ilk, the report bends to social pressures, containing language "about discrimination, persecution, and being inclusive" to the exclusion of the proverbial elephant in the room, namely, homosexual activity. Concerns about being a "welcoming congregation" override, Nuechterlein feels, the obvious fact that to welcome homosexuals inclusively is to welcome homosexual practice - the moral validity of which remains typically unaddressed.

Related Articles

Out of Homosexuality: A Pastor's Story John Howard as told to Bob Davies A pastor shares how homosexual desires lingered on and temptation won out until he confessed his struggle to others, opened himself to God's healing and gained victory. Pastor Howard could have lost his family and ministry, but as an ex-gay, ended up in ministry to struggling gays.

"On the Fundamental Issues of Social Life, One Side Always Wins" NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) Highlights from a book entitled, The Pluralist Game: Pluralism, Liberalism and the Moral Conscience by Francis Canavan (Rowman and Littlefield, 1995). When individual liberty is the only acknowledged ordering principle, community disintegrates, and government becomes nothing more than the arbiter of an unending series of competing claims for "rights."

A Framework for Understanding the Gay Soul NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) Using two books by noted psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a framework is discussed to help understand disturbing themes in the popular book, "Gay Soul: Finding the Heart of Gay Spirit and Nature." Satinover's assessment of the resurgence of paganism, polytheism and Gnosticism within modern psychology and Western culture at large give insight to the propensity to redefine ("reimagine") the banal and evil as worthy of celebration and worship. copyright Copyright 1995-2006 Leadership U. All rights reserved. This site is part of the Telling the Truth Project.

http://www.leaderu.com/focus/gaytheology.html

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