r m p




Reply to Letters responding to

 Husband of One Husband


What a delight to read articulate replies to my column on the ordination of a gay bishop, and, even more, to read Rick Stewart’s gutsy defense of a free exchange of ideas in his pages! Bravo!

I’d like to share a couple of reactions to the Reverend Bailey’s essay. He tries to maintain a respectful tone and to avoid name-calling, for which I’m grateful. But it is hardly a sign of respect when you charge someone with being "intellectually dishonest," which means they know better and are just spewing propaganda, or that they ought to know better but are blatantly kidding themselves. It is a way of saying, "If this guy were really intelligent, he’d agree with me." But on to the issues.

I am surprised, reading what Rev. Bailey said, that he’d take umbrage at being classified "right wing" or "conservative." He sounds like one. I myself am pretty right-wing and conservative politically, and I do not consider those labels offensive. But at any rate, I think the context made it clear I was talking about the conservative faction of my own denomination, the Episcopal Church.

Nor is it an insult to say that those who claim their "Spirit-led" reading of the Bible circumvents a close exegesis of the text are in effect making themselves prophets. I can’t imagine that, as a good Baptist, Rev. Bailey wouldn’t agree with me on this point.

Why doesn’t Leviticus’ condemnation of "a man lying with a man as with a woman" settle the issue of homosexuality? Because the forbidden acts, which also include many regulations like not eating pork and lobster, are strictly speaking "abominations" (Hebrew: Tebhel), literally "mixtures," "confusions," category transgressions that are purely ceremonial in nature. That’s not to say they were not dead serious back in the Iron Age, but Christian ethicists usually think such laws are passé since Christ came to fulfill the law. Otherwise, e.g., we’d still be sacrificing sheep, making sure we don’t wear "unclean" polyester. If acts condemned in Leviticus are still to be deemed wrong, we need some independent corroboration.

Don’t we have that in Romans chapter one? My point is that the text is simply not describing homosexuality in the current sense. Gays are repelled at the idea of sex with the same gender. They are obeying their nature, not going against it. If "against nature" simply means "against the will of God," why not just say the latter? "Against nature" makes it sound like there is an additional issue at stake, which I think there is: one’s felt inclinations.

And as for God making Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, and saying "Be fruitful and multiply," sure, nobody is saying homosexuality is the norm, that everybody ought to be gay. Celibacy is not the norm either, though Jesus and Paul are both on record advocating that. The question is whether the Bible means to condemn the statistically small exceptions to the norm, or whether we should.

Some exceptions to the norm, like child-molesting, which is also obeying a deep inclination, are destructive to others and so we cannot allow them. Does homosexuality necessarily fall into the same category? I don’t think so. My point is that merely citing Bible passages of dubious meaning cannot settle such complex issues.

[In response to:  Husband of One Husband]

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