Or so we say in our group. There can hardly be an issue so profound and divisive in the Christian world right now as how to understand homosexuality. It is tearing apart the venerable Anglican Communion, it splits the Mainline churches, it begs to be addressed in Roman Catholicism, and Evangelicals even are beginning to shift ever so slightly into conflict. It is amazing that Evangelicals have been at the front of post-modern theology, Historical Jesus work, integrating Science and Theology, but they just aren’t handling this one with the same maturity and depth.
Let me say that I believe Christians in general have completely failed at appropriately addressing this “issue.” I don’t mean that they have dropped the ball and we can do another play, I mean that they have fouled up so bad as to require a whole new game.
This is something that aims to be as powerful an event as Arianism was oh so many centuries ago.
It has worldwide and ecumenical consequences and it is not leaving any Christian group untouched.
To make matters worse, the general Western society has moved well beyond the Church with this issue and is now sitting in judgement of the Church. Which makes it all the more difficult to address it, because a concession in the direction toward them will be interpreted by many as an “abandonment of the Gospel,” a “compromise with the world” or some other such phrase.
There is so much to say we can hardly know where to begin. Let me suggest that recognizing the essential humanity in the person of homosexual orientation is a first step. Although this can be conveniently described as an “issue,” it is absolutely foundational to remember this is about real people. People whom if you cut, they bleed, who feel love and pain just like all the heterosexuals out there. Who have fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters. Not only that, but there are many who put their trust in our Lord and who feel attraction to members of the same gender. If they have also been baptized then they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and should be treated accordingly. More on this on another post.
Let’s also commit to genuine prayer and study. Let’s listen to real homosexuals tell their stories; both Christian and non-Christian. Let’s listen to our hermeneutics of Scripture and see if indeed we are being hypocritical or inconsistent. And let’s look deep into our theologies of Incarnation, of Atonement and Resurrection to see what our Lord would have us do.
This is an introduction, and I presume that this topic will continue to be discussed at length here on Theophiliacs. Here are a few resources I would point your attention to for study and reflection:
“The Anglican Scotist” is a professor of Philosophy and an Episcopalian. His arguments are nuanced, sophisticated, and at least attempt to come from an “orthodox” Christian perspective. Take your time with this one.
“Peter Ould” is a minister in the Church of England who was at one time a practicing homosexual but who now describes himself as “post-gay.” I have found his input to be especially helpful. Check out his “Key Posts on Sexuality” to the right hand side, and explore all of his website. He relates it all to Scripture, Church Doctrine, Canon Law, Theology, anthropology and science.
The current Archbishop of Canterbury “Rowan Williams” wrote “The Body’s Grace” way back in 1989 well before he was elevated to this post. This also is quite dense and must be read slowly and with great care.
The many contributers to “Open Source Theology” have taken a variety of opinions in this series well worth reading. They defend a traditional understanding of homosexuality, but argue for their inclusion in local congregations. Check out all the comments, some are worth the read, others are a bit mediocre.
This website provides many different links of various value.
CollegeJay is a gay Christian who is choosing to be celibate, check out his many posts on the topic.
Well known Emergent pastor/theologian Tony Jones is about to embark on a brave blogalogue
Some of the best stuff has been put out by Roman Catholics. Check out the Persona Humana, Also check out their series of Monographs put out by L’Osservatore Romano under the general title “Christian Anthropology and Homosexuality” 14 studies by various authorities in psychology, psychiatry, family life, and moral theology. Well worth the read!
Despite the actions of some in the West, the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide are defenders of a Traditional stance on homosexuality. They have also been the ones who have written some of the most moving pieces to be found in the whole Christian community. Look here at this book and other resources linked on the right, and check out the massive bibliographies. You can get a broader understanding of the whole process here. Sift through the many many worthwhile articles at Fulcrum, a centrist Evangelical Anglican group who has written often on this and many other pressing issues. A goldmine to be sure.
The Rev. Mel White, a former ghost-writer for the likes of Jerry Falwell now open homosexual, talks about the Bible and homosexuality.
Well, that’s it for now. There is way more out there, this post makes no claim to be comprehensive. But it’s a great start. Get reading and we’ll get back to ya!