Thursday, January 18, 2007

Christian Commitment and Homosexuality

Ordinary Time

I was talking about this with a Baptist pastor friend the other day (you know who he is) , so I decided to finally put some of this down. I've thought about it for awhile, but I've been avoiding it. Then I shot my mouth off about "blogging through" One Punk Under God. And really, this is the only thing I've got to say about what I saw in Episode 2.

One of the major reasons that "liberal," "progressive," or "revisionist" Christians argue for the validity and necessity of blessing same-sex unions is a failure of imagination.

Stay with me - I didn't say "only," but "one of the major reasons."

Most often, when I talk to Christians who have revised their view on the matter from the traditional to the progressive stance, the narrative goes something like this:
"I was always taught that homosexuals are bad people who are rebelling against God. But then I actually talked to some gay Christians who don't understand themselves to be in rebellion, and have loving, monogamous relationships that seem to mediate God's love and grace to them and their partners. These were not bad, evil people at all! After meeting these people and seeing this, I can't support any reading of the Bible that says God doesn't love them, and that they should be driven away from the Church."
(This was essentially the story Jay Bakker told in One Punk Under God.)

In a sense, this is a good and legitimate "conversion" story. We have a narrative of somebody turning away from a "reading of the bible" by which they could justify hateful behavior toward gay people, to a "reading of the bible" that forbids it. That's important. That's an important move in discipleship. Where the failure of imagination comes in, however, is where one's sexual ethics must change in order to love homosexual people instead of hating them.

For anyone outside of Christ's Church, their problem is this: everybody is fallen and separated from the life of God, and are even enemies of God. The good news is that Jesus has and inaugurated God's rule over the whole earth and begun its restoration (and ours!) by taking on the full consequences for our sin and alienation from God. Everybody is invited to get on board with his Kingdom agenda and place their lives under the present and coming Reign of God here and now.

That's a universal thing. It has nothing to do with gay, straight, or anything else. It's just human. If somebody's sexual orientation or lifestyle presents a stumbling block to whether and how you present this story, you have a problem understanding and living out this story. So where does "gay" start to matter? It matters when we start talking about chastity, which in turn is only meaningful for people who have chosen to live in the Jesus way. Christian chastity is a bodily expression of our belonging to Christ. It happens to be the case that the vast majority of Christians in the vast majority of all times and places have considered homoerotic relationship of any kind to be outside the boundaries of God's creative and redemptive intentions for humanity. The two options for chaste living are Christian marriage or celibacy. The gospel calls all Christians to live chaste lives, and for people who understand themselves to be homosexual, that means celibacy.

(This does not require one to say that homoerotic partnerships are completely devoid of "real" love or grace or the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians to heal and restore us.)

Now here is the place where many "liberals" and "conservatives" are on the same page: they think that what follows from such a position is that non-Christian people must be told that their orientation or sexual activity separates them from God in a way that is more significant than the general "fall" and sinfulness of humanity, and that gay people must be straight to be loved by God. And of course, that the culture must be shaped to make it harder for everybody to live lives the Gospel declares to be sinful. Fundamentalists assume this and have no problem with it, while liberals make the same assumption and so insist upon re-writing their sexual ethics. This represents a failure of imagination on both sides. I have a big problem with this perversion of the Christian story, but as you might suppose, I think that my summary is consistent (surprise!) with the traditional Christian story about sex as well as the Gospel's imperative to love in real and meaningful ways.

If you think - as either a "conservative" or a "liberal" - that you have agree with somebody's story about themselves as a prerequisite to being a neighbor to them and being friends and loving them well, and sharing some important things in life, you don't really get the Gospel yet (see this also).

In addition, because one can't really have relational holiness if one is all about rules and "separateness" more than commitment and peace - if one says to gay people that they are the Church's enemies in the culture wars and that they are the harbingers of the destruction of Western Civilization, one is not treating them like real people who are loved by the the Trinitarian God. Such a story draws the "battle lines" of the Kingdom in a very different place than does the Gospel story.

Being a Christian is hard. It means taking on some commitments that we might want to fight for most of our lives, and giving up some ways of living and thinking that we treasure - like the silly story about the Culture Wars, or some kinds of sexual practices. If you can't hack it, don't be a Christian. I won't hold it against you. I'll even understand, and appreciate your honesty. Seriously. Either way, Christians are required to learn to love you well, whether you are an enemy by declaration, or by subversion.

(N.B.: if this upsets you, read the piece at least twice to make certain that I must be saying what you think I'm saying. I might not be. Remember my policy: comments that suck will be deleted.)


Anonymous said...

Hey Kyle,

After re-reading this several times, I don't think I get what you're trying to say.

Are you saying that those who are Christians who are homosexual who are living in a monogomous, same-sex relationship should stop calling themselves Christian?


Kyle said...

Ooh, good question. Thank you. And no, that wasn't my point. :0)

My comment is more meant to be an answer to the objection that if the Church keeps insisting that same-sex romantic relationships are incongruent with Christian commitment, they are keeping homosexual persons from meeting God.

One of the comments that Jay Bakker made a couple of times in that documentary (and he's not alone) is "why should we close the door of the church to homosexuals"?

Putting aside the fact that I struggle with talking about the hospitality of the Church in terms of language you might use for a shopping mall or a public utility, I insist that the proclamation of God's love and the reconciliation Christ has worked out is for everyone, but that Christian discipleship does have some demands that ought not be changed just because they seem "mean."

Overall what I'm trying to get around to is saying that citing the above argument, "I was always taught that homosexuals were bad people...," etc. is an illegitimate reason for revising Christian sexual ethics.

There are other arguments people use to get there from here that hold quite a bit more water, but I'm arguing that this one in particular holds none at all.

Kyle said...

Oh, and I should also say that I didn't intend to argue anybody should "stop calling themselves Christian." I do argue against a particular mindset by which folks want to aspects of the faith to make it more attractive.

It's important to note that this different from when people want to revise some aspects of Christian ethics because they believe that the accepted tradition amounts to an inappropriate reading of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

With regards to this:

"My comment is more meant to be an answer to the objection that if the Church keeps insisting that same-sex romantic relationships are incongruent with Christian commitment, they are keeping homosexual persons from meeting God. "

Agreed, with qualifications. When the Church insists that same-sex romantic relationships are incongruent with Christian commitment, she isn't *keeping* anyone from meeting or not meeting God. Most Christians who hold to this line of thinking, though, have not really thought through the implications of what this means for the homosexual. No possibility of having a sexual relationship. For life. Ever. No possibility of children.

This is a lot to ask. Many question whether or not God would ask this much from a person, and why.

I know I stated only the negative implications, and there are plenty of positive sides to "chastity" (understood in the traditional sense).

Just some thoughts. I'm obviously grappling with these issues and enjoy the discussion with people from all viewpoints.

Garrett said...

Kyle, first you describe major kudos for diplomacy. I can't imagine any other human being alive who could make this "argument" in a fundamentally unpissy way.

I do have major qualms with both the a) anthropological correctness, and b) relevance, of your statement that "the vast majority of Christians in the vast majority of all times and places have considered homoerotic relationship of any kind to be outside the boundaries of God's creative and redemptive intentions for humanity." Maybe it's being 2 classes away from a classics degree, being married to a classics major, and having just enough greek to make me dangerous without being authoritative (and i am saying this to give you the filter through which i'm working, not because I think I have any sort of expertise or relevant credentials in the area, which I don't). But my impression of human history is that the modern homosexual relationship is something that has only existed for a short period of time. It certainly didn't exist in Paul's time, which is why I've always felt Paul's ramblings against homosexuality were essentially irrelevant to any discussion of it now. Of course, I'm assuming that most of modern discussions of the ethics of homosexuality revolve around Paul, which has been true in my limited experience.

My understanding of pre-modern (last, I dunno few hundred years maybe?) homosexual relationships were that they more readily consisted of pederasty and major power differentials. I sure hope Paul would have the sense to say, hey, it's bad to have abusive relationships. To my knowledge, Paul never had anything to say about the gay dude you meet on the street who has lived with his boyfriend for the past fifteen years. He never met him, and never even really knew that he existed. If my "there's something new under the sun" theory is remotely correct, then we are faced with 2000 years of anti-homosexual writings written through Paul's (and a(n) historically chauvinist) filter which essentially does not equip us to talk about modern homosexuality in an unbiased Christian way.

I can accept that Christian sexual ethics discourage sex outside the confines of a loving committed relationship, i.e. a marriage in either legal or common terms. I cannot accept that we have any relevant precedent to say that a homosexual Christian needs to be celibate, because I can't understand how having sex in a homosexual Christian relationship separates one from God any more than having sex in a heterosexual one. Paul's homosexual Christian, the pederast, yeah, that's a problem. But Paul didn't know the gay people we know now, the ones who adopt kids and buy milk at the store together and who probably have as boring a married sex life as I have. And if Paul didn't know they existed, I can't believe that his ramblings about the pederasts of his day are relevant to our neighbors of today.

Shift this to email if you want, because I feel like you could teach me a ton about this topic, which of course was only a small part of your overall point.

Garrett said...

dude, i'm illiterate. you deserve major kudos, you don't describe them.

Jared Cramer said...

Oh boy. Let's see here...

It seems that you are saying that, in your opinion, if you're homosexual Christian marriage is off-limits (this is a fuzzy inference of my own) and, thus, you must engage a life of celibacy, just the same as a straight person incapapble of finding a suitable mate.

Is that correct? Just curious.

The more important comment, for me, deals with soft-peddling the demands of Christian commitment in the interest of spreading the gospel. I share your healthy disdain for this activity and, indeed, I find it frustrating wherever I have encountered it.

However, the majority of real people I've talked to about this are actually making a bold and outrageous claim to GLBT persons in the church. They're saying that, yes, God accepts you as a homosexual person, just like God accepts anyone, but you are called to live by Christian sexual ethics. This means that you must live out Gospel concern for others, including those you are attracted to. This nixes promiscuity and using sexuality in any sort of a way that demeans another person or covers your own hurts. This is much tougher than the loosey-goosey liberal, just open our arms and let everyone in, line. And, furthermore, I believe it is tougher than the conservative call to reparative therapy or celibacy because it dares to imagine Gospel living in bold ways.

And, to be honest, this is exactly what the church should be saying, to all of its members, homosexual or heterosexual.

So, to come back to my first question, the radical call to Christian committment for me does not entail mandatory celibacy for homosexual Christians (because celibacy is an important vocation not to be imposed upon any group of people), though it does make some other strong demands on their lives.

What does the radical call to Christian commitmen, when spoken to homosexual persons, look like to you? Specifically, is it a call to blanket celibacy?

Anonymous said...

A deep push for many is the deep desire for companionship. Talking to one friend last night, he made the comment that it was unnatural for humans to be "alone" doomed to "emptiness" as "the church" begs gays to be. Granted I find this to take a very low view of celibacy, but then again does anyone out there have a high view anymore? The longing for love does indeed 'cause some to wish to throw all to the wind and risk everything so that they may behold and beheld by the splendor of love. They to often though are left asking the question of "does love conquer all."

*sigh* This topic each time helps to illustrate a world of deep pain.

Anonymous said...

I personally I do consider reparative therapy to be one of the truest forms of torture that exists. It is abominable at best. Down right hideous in its existence.

When did the church come about being concerned about the destruction of the individual, destroying them and brainwashing. When did we deploy the tools of Death & the Devil (i.e., shock therapy, association of thoughts with re-pungent smells, belittlement of the person as a whole, and all other manners of abuse) to promote the goodness of life within creation endowed with the goodness of God?

Reparative Therapy should be outlawed.

Anonymous said...

I think I blogged a few months ago about Urban Holmes' comment that Christian faith as taught by the church ought to be "plausible" (as opposed to "relevant", the dumb catchword some folks on the left side of the fence use). The Christian story has a certain integrity to it, which is connected deeply to the truths revealed to us through the natural world. So if someone says belief in a literal seven day creation ex nihilo roughly five thousand years ago is necessary to the faith, they're breaking that integrity. Even scientists who are Christian keep revisiting that finding and we all discover, through discernment, that the evolutionary narrative is at least possibly correct. Claiming otherwise renders Christian faith implausible, because it contradicts something that communal discernment suggests is at least possible or even likely.

To me, the homosexuality question is similar. It's not just that some folks have had individual conversion experiences. It's that a large segment of the church (in the West, anyway) has entered into communal discernment for some time, and many of us have found that these relationships are likely identical to heterosexual relationships in terms of their agreement with God's will for his disciples. I hedge with "likely" because not everyone is so sure -- I feel pretty confident. Anyhow, to say that LGBT relationships are "not Christian" (even if they might be "good" in some way) strikes me as problematic -- if anything, the other side should also be hedging and saying, Yeah, communal discernment has thrown this part of our sexual ethics into doubt. They might still believe they're right (just as I believe I am), but it should create a problem of discernment for the church, rather than creating a problem of one side kicking the other one out.

That said, I agree with you about the weakness of the argument from original conversion experience. My other pet peeve argument re: LGBTs is the "born that way" argument. I know it's personally satisfying, but man, what a useless argument for Christians. Some people are born with violent tendencies, too. Chalking the goodness of LGBT relationships up to biology is a total non-starter, not to mention unintentionally disrespectful to LGBT people and their relationships.

Sorry, I really should have written a blog post instead of commenting. :-)

Anonymous said...

Quick little question: I am assuming that you are not a creationist (that is, adhere to the doctrine that God created the universe in six literal days) and that you believe Adam and Eve weren't literal individuals who lived "6,00" years ago. I understand that I am assuming a lot here but I've got to have a little bit of something to work with...

How can we assume that homosexual relations are a distortion of correct/proper/true/right/etc. human sexuality, that is, one man and one woman in confines and boundaries of a marriage (of course, making room for the celibate and single) if we do not believe that the creation story is to be read like some odd mix of a math book and Nostradamus' prophecies? Isn't the mere fact that we (not necessarily here but in other places) bicker about the morality of committed sexuality a symptom of the sickness of the fall of humankind?

Just my thoughts on it, I'm worn out on this debate. I know what I believe and will continue to question, mold, and change according to my growth as a human being... This discussion rarely brings any sort of substantial fruit, as you once told me before...

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for Kyle, and I hesitate to even get into this, but I think it's worth saying that the concept of brokenness hasn't really been brought up. I only wanted to mention that, for me, and this may be part of what Kyle is pointing at in speaking about an implicit call to celibacy for the Christian homosexually oriented person - that this is not about some horrible dictate handed down to keep people from "being who they are."

If one wants to stand in the unchanged Tradition of the Church on the matter, one will find one's self perhaps having to trust and bend outside of what seems like reason and definitely outside of what emotion or even pragmatics might tell us. In this case, we will have to say that this orientation is broken. And going farther than that, following the idea of brokenness, that if we then embrace a state of brokenness, a broken inclination of whatever sort, we will then act in cooperation with that which will further break us. This is what this talk of celibacy is about. It's about, in this view, love for the broken person, the loving desire not to see that person further broken.

I'm not looking for new answers on this issue either. I think it's helpful, though, to point something like a view of not only brokenness, but also of the possibility of being further broken.

Also, and I'm surprised Kyle hasn't gone off on this yet - but there is some serious insinuation here about how a life without sex is somehow less than life and could never be happy and is always lonely. The reality of the Christian Community is more than slightly maligned by thoughts in this direction. Peace to all in this house.

Caelius said...

I posted my reply to this at my place.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Kyle, it is rare to see a fresh perspective on this issue, but I think you've done it. Brilliant and insightful!

Incidently, garret, there is some evidence for same-age, possibly long term homosexual relationships in antiquity. They were frowned upon, so much of our evidence is from prohibitions and social taboos (why mention them, if they don't happen even occasionally), but that still undercuts the standard Paul isn't talking about what we're talking about argument that you ably represented for us. The reason why we don't hear so much about those in the standard texts is that they were considered extremely shameful, like most periods of history, but for entirely different reasons (it was shameful for a man to be a passive partner). So, as a classicist, I'd challenge this assumption.


Kyle said...

Everyone, thanks for your kind and reasoned responses.

Richard, I've got another post coming up in the queue that teases out some of the things you mention. Thanks again, and stay tuned. :0)

Garrett, I'd not actually intended to go there because that's when the crowd usually goes nuts, but I think we might be able to pull it off here. As a disclaimer, I think you make good points, and that those are important questions to be asked; my statement along the lines of "all Christians have believed this so all homosexual Christians must be celibate and that's that" wasn't meant as a dogmatic statement (see the link to Richard below), but a way of framing the discussion. I'm concerned with demonstrating that it's possible to believe something like that without being an ass, and indeed that it's necessary to not be an ass if somebody's going to believe it. Make sense?

With that said...

Your comment illumines the problem of sheer ambiguity when reading history - how serious are we, and how certain can we be, when it gets to reconstructing what we think Paul might have known? I surely don't believe what is implied by a lot of folks, that homosexual relationships in antiquity were always in the context of a power differential and had a strong element of exploitation. It is my impression that historians believe that nearly all homosexual relationships would have taken place alongside a heterosexual marriage, for social reasons? That would get us to the same place you've gotten to, that Paul didn't have anything to say to the guy dudes in my neighborhood who are living out a homosexual equivalent to heterosexual marriage.

Again, that's an important point, so I'll just put it back in your court from there. :0) Further (and this is why we're having a discussion about it) is that it must be said that I don't mean to talk about anything like a homosexual Christian coupling "separating" anybody from God in some kind of juridical or mystical sense. I don't think the New Testament deals with the things it calls sexual sin in that way (if for the sake of argument we were to call it that).

Alan does a great job of tackling that aspect below.

Yes, Jared, that is the case, but I wish I had prefaced it with the phrase, "for the sake of argument..." for the reasons I mentioned above. :0)

So yes, I think the Christian tradition calls homosexual folks to celibacy. I also think you make a good point about whether a vocation ought to be imposed. However, when the question is framed in terms of a relationship with the Trinitarian God instead of the oppression of authoritarian church structures (I suspect this is what we are getting to?), it becomes, "Would God impose a vocation upon anyone?" And I think the answer is "yes."

This is also something that Ben touches on: does celibacy really mean "loneliness," "emptiness," etc.? I think that kind of picture is one of failed vocation for the entire church. As long as celibacy means "enforced loneliness," we can scarcely talk about it as a God-given vocation for anybody. The contemporary church must rediscover this before it makes sense at all. I suspect, however, that celibacy presents a more radical gospel response than you might think. For one, celibacy does not (and ought not!) preclude intimacy, love and commitment to and with others in a community. It doesn't preclude living closely in a community. It does preclude having sex.

Second, celibacy is a prophetic enactment of the truth that sex is not necessary to lead a fulfilled, open, community-driven life that is marked by deep, committed relationships. The Church is itself a family that transforms and redeems the "natural" institution of blood relations.

Thanks, Chris. I should note that I am uninterested in calling the monogamous same-sex unions of Christians "not Christian." I kind of fit that under the previous comment about not saying they're "devoid of God's grace" and whatnot. My statement about saying one is "not a Christian" being alright is meant against the supposedly urgent concern that unless the Church becomes "gay-affirming," many gay people will never become Christians or meet God. Such an argument sidesteps the actual biblical and theological issues, and I don't believe that's true anyway.

So of our hypothetical committed gay Christian couple down the street I might say that such arrangements aren't quite what God has in mind for the ongoing sanctification of God's people, but not that they're cut of from God or Christian transformation in some ultimate way. Again, Alan does a good job with this one below.

Yes, Mike, I see you quote me twice there, and I think we're right on both counts. :0) And yes, you're quite right about bickering. And the Creationist thing is a good point. I don't argue that the biblical point is that "God made us this way, see it's right here in Genesis 1. Oh, and then a bit differently in Genesis 2. Just ignore that bit." Rather, it's an inspired myth that the Church believes to reveal the mind of the God who has revealed Godself.

And I do think that bit of it is kind of weak, frankly.

Alan, I did stop just short of "going off" - although in person I would be yelling it - but I hope I didn't disappoint. Ha! And yes, I think it's an important point that in the Christian tradition, sin is not meant to be an arbitrary label - it's a descriptive word that denotes the whole issue of breaking or not breaking and getting healed from an intrinsically broken up humanity on a metaphysical level.

Do be sure to check out Caelius' thoughtful comments on such matters. I think I'll respond to them over there later today (where's my coffee?)...

Thank you, Phil, I appreciate your kind words.

Can we see the classicists hash out these questions? Particularly, Phil, whether and how your point causes us to see Paul?

Again, thanks everyone.

See, Mike, this can be discussed. I just have a higher caliber audience.


Anonymous said...

"I'm worn out on this debate...This discussion rarely brings any sort of substantial fruit...."

The Noakes speaks some wisdon.

Anonymous said...

Uh...that's wisdom

Kyle said...

Well, that too, I guess.

Anonymous said...

very true. i guess i just need to drop the baptists off somewhere on the road...

i'll work on that.


Anonymous said...


You ask a tough question because the issue of homosexuality in antiquity is still a highly controversial subject in Classics land. Garrett gave the view which has been dominant over the past thirty or so years (based on the research of Kenneth Dover and David Halperin), but there have been challenges to this view that pederasty was virtually the only form of homosexuality and that it was only about power and domination.

What the dominant position has going for it is that it is clear that pederasty was a major form of same-sex practice in antiquity. Just a cursory look at Greek and Roman literature makes that abundantly clear. Yet, we get these odd stories about relationships between adult men which sometimes arose out of this pederastic arrangment such as that between Agathon and Aeschylus. Similiarly, there are hints and allegations about Alexander the Great and Hephaistion. Some of these would have been well-known enough to pass into common culture. The question is, how do we take these relationships and how does it affect how we read Paul.

The first problem is a hard one. Most of these relationships appear to have been happening while a marriage is going one, so constituted by a reasonable Christian standard, something akin to adultery. Clearly, a little digging would have to be done to find inveterate bachelors who continued these relationships. I think they may be there, but that would take time I don't have to corroborate.

All this is also complicated by
our own modern impoverishment of the language of friendship which I think leads us to mis-interpret same-sex relationships in antiquity. That is a side methodological problem, but one which cannot be wholly ignore because it is perfectly possible that the relationships we're talking become platonic and lose their sexual practice after the boy becomes an adult.

So, if we assume I'm right, how does that affect how we read Paul? Simple. If the argument posed by Garrett has any teeth in it, we have to assume that Paul's only acquaintence with homosexuality is pederasty or temple prostitution. Clearly, we would condemn both practices today as well. BUT, if Paul never saw the kind of relational homosexuality that we say today which stays monogamous and faithful, we cannot read into his prohibition and prohibition of this practice either. Yet, if we can prove that Paul could have known about these longer-term relationships, we can conclude that he also had these practices in mind in his condemnation of homosexuality.

I would say that, at this stage, there is a reasonable doubt about this classic liberal contention. I'd have to do more research to really nail it down, but I think we all need to hesitate before we accept garret's argument.


Michael said...

Very thoughtful essay - I linked in after reading your essay "what do you think about gay people".

I'll confess, I haven't though much about the role of celibacy in a Christian perspective on sexuality, mostly because I'm trying to navigate the complex waters of married sexuality. You're right though - the church at large (I'm thinking of my own community here as well) has not offered a compelling view of human sexuality that embraces celibacy as a healthy and viable vocation. We talk to our youth about how to avoid sexual activity, we talk to college students about how to choose a spouse, and then we stick people into either a young marrieds class, or a singles ministry to get them matched up with someone.

All of this lacks individuation, all of it lacks perspective and creativity, all of it stunts our construction of how human sexuality plays out in the lives of believers.

Thought-provoking, Kyle. Thanks for the foray into some contentious waters.

Kyle said...

Thank you, Phil. I don't have anything to say really, but I appreciated reading that. Cheers.

Michael Lee! Hiya! I heart Addison Road! :0)

I'm glad you appreciated the piece, and "yes, yes, yes" I want to get more Christians talking about marriage and celibacy about actual vocations, so that either way we can start talking about sexuality as a blessing.

Everyone go read Lauren Winner!

bls said...

I suppose it's impossible for folks to recognize that speaking of other people's lifelong loves in this way is completely and utterly offensive.

Try imagining it happening to you, in that case: imagine some "religious" people - total strangers who don't know you - all getting together to declare your marriage "broken" because they need to to justify their own particular theology. Do you think you'd pay any particular attention to those people? I can't imagine why.

And it's easy enough for you, I expect, to feel so "worn out" by this argument that you wish to excuse yourself from it. Not so easy for us, though; it's a daily occurence over the course of an entire lifetime. Imagine engaging in it every day!

Here's my suggestion: why don't a group of Evangelical men and women, who do not believe they are called to celibacy - most gay people don't, you know - why don't they commit to lifetime celibacy anyway? Why not show us all how it's done? We desperately need role models. C'mon - you can do it!

No, our marriages aren't "broken." From this point of view, it sure looks like the "Evangelical Imagination" - and its humanity - is.

Kyle said...

Good points. Just to touch on a few of them:

I never said this explicitly, but wish I did - Mohan picked up on it in a comment on a related post:

"I think it appropriate that you answer the hypothetical with the added hypo that you are a priest in a pastoral setting. My opinion is that this is a situation were there are so many busybodies who are not homosexual, nor are they pastoring someone who is homosexual (nor have a child struggling with it), but rather it seems these people want to hassle others for something they cannot be busted for themselves."

I consider myself to be discussing this in the context of my own ecclesial life; that is, "how does my own Christian community understand Christian sexual ethics, and how do we call our own members to live?" The unions of non-baptized people, broken or not, homo or hetero, are of no interest to me whatsoever. People who are baptized have particular responsibilities to and for one another, especially in the context (and this is key!) of local, personal Christian communities.

If one is a Christian, what one does in relationships of any kind and how one lives is absolutely the concern of one's church. Period. If we're going to talk about "Christian commitment" at all, that's a given.

Thanks for your interest.