A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I thought I'd repost a letter to the editor of Presbyweb in response to this column:

I can't share agreement with the letter's applauding Rev. Bruce Becker's column on his "wildly heterosexist God". He uses a number of standards, none of which seem to proceed from a form of moral reasoning.

The first standard is universability, but there's a number of practices which are deemed to have a worthy office in the church which cannot be universalized, one being celibacy. The eunuchs in the NT have a place in the kingdom even though the whole world could not be that. When Paul describes the gifts, it's clear that there are a wide range of callings which are unique, play a part, but could never be universal. A life of integrity is not uniformity, it's living out one's unique calling which may not necessarily look like someone else's calling.

The second standard is his use of nature, which can only tell us what is, not what ought to be. That is Bruce Becker commits the naturalistic fallacy; something supporters and opponents of this issue frequently fall into. His fine descriptions of the love, commitment, mutuality which he appreciates seeing in heterosexual couples has little relation to descriptions of body parts and procreation that nature arguments tend to devolve into.

The third standard is his use of the Bible, which is as fundamentalist as they come. Bruce Becker pretends as if the Bible's understanding is uniform and ignores the diverse sexual and relational situations we find in the text. Applauding Abraham may be fine, but ignoring his multiple wives, as if the Bible is a mirror image of his ideal vision of the heterosexual nuclear family is ahistorical, maybe even a form of eisegesis.

He seems to also treat heterosexuality and homosexuality as moral categories. Most of us who support glbt inclusion don't suggest that homosexuality is a virtue, always a good. Rather it's the particular relationships in question, whether they build up love, mutuality, commitment, the development of moral possibilities among those in the relationship. But Becker seems to treat heterosexuality as an unmitigated good, something that can't be reflective of his own pastoral experience

Focus on sexual orientation in the end evades the moral question, because finding out what gender one is attracted to, seems to give us little clues to whether we have a stable, loving, mutual, growth filled, committed relationship or not. One can find examples in both orientations where this was the case and sadly too many times we can find broken, destructive relationships as well. The church's business is to build up the prior.

It's nice to know that Becker has gay connections, though I don't know if he has informed them that his stomach "wrenches" when in thought of their sexuality. I hope the church can at some point be in a place to have a discussion about the moral life and how sexuality relates to that without personal ickness but with a seriousness and reflectivity that the moral life demands. It's the best way to be faithful to the God who is the God of the best and the highest in life.


At 7:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I belong to a Christian(Disciples Of Christ)Church. Our minister is a lesbian. She is very left leaning. I started taking my family to this church a few years ago on an invitation from a co worker. I love it there. I am a conservative and I disagree with her on a bunch of things but I love her. She is the most genuine minister I have ever had in a church. Her heart could fill a room. She would have to rank in the top 10 influential people in my life thus far.

I still struggle with gays in the ministry because it clearly says in the Bible that it's wrong. I thought about leaving despite my love for this church but I just can't leave. The Bible tells us lot's of things are wrong for us to do or even think. We all sin against God. Even Conservative Republicans like me sin against God. I am still struggling with this issue but for now this is home.


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