Sunday, February 10, 2008

So What's The Big Deal?

In regards to my previous post about the questionable exegesis of the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool in terms of asserting that several male-male relationships mentioned in Scripture were indeed sexual, frequent commentator and smart person QuakerJono aired a few points that might be better answered out here on the main.

To whit:
I haven't read the book and I am fairly sure no one else here who's commenting on it has, but Bishop Jones' actual words imply that he's not drawing any more authoritative conclusion than it is quite possible several relationships within the Bible were homosexual in nature and the modern church should at least recognize this possibility and be more accepting of modern day homosexual relationships as a result.

The main beef with that is twofold; first, the interpretation of what constitutes a "relationship" is extraordinarily broad in application, and second, the application of it carries consequences far beyond the examples in question.

One, the Bishop uses the existence of a close relationship, physical contact, and emotional behavior, especially upon the death of one of the pair, towards the other to denote a relationship that could be sexual in nature.

However, as Scripture shows us, Jesus had a close relationship, made physical contact, and displayed emotional behavior towards a whole horde of folks -- John the Baptist, John the Apostle, Simon Peter, the other ten apostles, Mary of Bethany, her sister Martha, her brother Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Zaccheus, and Mary Magdalene, with those of them who were alive weeping hysterically at his death.

So applying the Bishop's logic, Jesus was quite the playa on BOTH sides.

Building on the first, this assertion of close relationships invariably being sexual, if true, makes some interesting hash of things asserted elsewhere in Scripture. For example, David and Jonathan, while having the sexual relationship that the Bishop asserts, were married to women and having children, thus throwing that whole "do not commit adultery" thing into complete disarray. Meanwhile, the point of our Lord in mentioning the five husbands and live-in lover of the Samaritan woman at the well changes from an admonishment of bad behavior to a pungent example of hypocrisy, given the twenty or so people mentioned in HIS harem.

So as we see, this isn't really good Scriptural or theological interpretation, and in fact, is rather rotten on multiple levels.

But then, QJ brings up another piece; does it matter?
In a secular sense, we have someone in a position of power who has come to a new understanding of homosexuality and a more open acceptance of its existence, but we're going to bag on him because he dares to suggest that maybe homosexual relationships existed in the past?

Well, that depends.

The Bishop would have been on far more secure ground if he had pointed out that Scripture's primary cautions and condemnations are against promiscuity and allowing sex to take precedence over all else, which means a blanket condemnation of gay sex is, at best, rather lopsided, and at worst, makes no more sense than one of heterosexual sex would.

But instead, the Bishop attempted to assert that specific relationships mentioned in the Bible were sexual, even though it means that a) David and Jonathan were adulterers, b) our Lord was a slut (and a hypocrite) on an epic scale, and c) thus the Bible endorses cheating on your wife and having promiscuous sex with multiple partners.

I suppose if being able to point to relationships in the Bible as being gay is more important to you than anything else, that might be an acceptable tradeoff.

But it certainly isn't to me.

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