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.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pannenberg on Gay Marriage

Wolfhart Pannenberg is a noted German theologian, along with Jurgen Moltmann, required reading among most Lutherans I know. I feel a bit embarrassed that I haven't had a chance to read him yet.

Sadly, the first piece I read is one against gay marriage and the argument hinges on the most flimsiest of claims. Gender essentialism. Apparently Paul's "there is no male nor female in Christ" is thrown out and the marriage metaphor (with the husband and wife) is lifted up.

That marriage metaphor is moving. But that this must be used so as to attack gay and lesbian love achieves a result that I think overturns the logic of Christianity (increasing love of God and neighbor) versus the historical way churches have related to glbt folks.

Pannenberg goes with the history. I'd try to go with the underlying logic of the tradition. And yes Pannenberg tries to anathematize churches that support gay and lesbians, but that language (who is in and out of the true church) is the oldest of rhetorical tropes.

One which I suspect would be used to condemn Pannennberg himself depending on who is using this trope. But there must be a better way to talk to each other. I hope Pannenberg's writings on other subjects are marked by more charity in any case.


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At 9:25 AM , Blogger orthodox said...

"But that this must be used so as to attack gay and lesbian love achieves a result that I think overturns the logic of Christianity (increasing love of God and neighbor)"

According to this logic, the Royal Animal lovers society must be morally obligated to support bestiality.

At 6:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This arguement is one which should never be; the Bible - the living word of God - expressly hates homosexuality. (Romans 1:26-27 for example). To warp one line of scripture as you have to cover the sins of people is wrong and goes against God's will. Please reconsider your thoughts and God Bless...
Kelby Lovelady

At 8:35 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

I understand your position but not your argument though.

At 4:32 PM , Blogger Bill Baar said...

I think the concept of "Gay", "Lesbian", and "Sexual Orientation" would have been lost on St Paul.

There were just sinful behaviors... I think the concept of "orientation" would have been lost on him...

..just a guess. But if that's the case, most of your arguments make little sense.. do anyone coming from St Paul's frame.

At 11:22 PM , Blogger Larry Kamphausen said...

I hadn't visited your blog in awhile and came accross this piece.
While it makes sense that you disagree with the Pannenberg essay, your accusation of "flimsy" Gender essentialism is I slightly unfair. His appeal to Gender essentialism is only flimsy if you think that "There is neither male nor female in Christ" should be lifted in such away that it obliterates the passages of Scripture that Pannenburg is lifting up as normative. One may believe this passage is more normative than what Pannenburg. Gender essentialism, while I diagree with it cannot be so easily dismissed, nor do I think Pannenburgs argument in the essay which does go beyond gender essentialism. It is largely a question of hermeneutics and how the Bible is normative. I suspect you may very well disagree with much of Pannenberg, as I myself do, but I think your bias here has lead you to right off an argument as insuficient when all lit is is that you disagree with a way of interpreting the world that leads to an interpretation of reality you don't agree with and like.
You seem to admit this excep that Pannenberg I think is arguing more than simply history but the logic of the Tradition and probably would be a little suspicious of your claim to get at the underlying logic of the tradition. I think before you go acusing people of flimsy claims you should look a little harder at your own. Uncovering underlying logic of things is tricky business and highly subjective process.

Lastly I think you miss the grace in Pannenbergs position and the degree to which he is arguing for a traditional but not hard-line and simply condemning position.
So I wonder is there anyway that someone could hold that homosexual practice that you would consider legitimate or are you as convinced as the other side that you know the truth in this and thus that anyone who would hold a different position than yours is automatically beyond the pale? It seems to me that your reaction to Pannenberg's quite measured and well argued (if partial and limited since it is a brief essay and not a theological treatise) essay indicates no one could argue the case Pannenberg does without accusations of flimsy claims.
BTW I agree with you and not Pannenberg but I also can't dismiss Pannenberg's argument as you have here.

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