Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Bible and Homosexuality

Thanks, Robby, for your comments.  (Though you needn't use Rick as an intermediary; you can simply send your comments on my postings to me, and I'll happily post them for you.)

In 2002 (which is the last time I looked), I wrote that recent pieces defending the reading of the Bible according to which homosexual sexual conduct is always immoral include:

  • Charles L. Bartow, "Speaking the Text and Preaching the Gospel," in Choon-Leong Seow, ed., Homosexuality and the Christian Community at 86 (1996).
  • Richard B. Hays, "Awaiting the Redemption of Our Bodies:  The Witness of Scripture Concerning Homosexuality," in Jeffrey S. Siker, ed., Homosexuality in the Church:  Both Sides of the Debate at 3 (1994).
  • Ulrich W. Mauser, "Creation, Sexuality, and Homosexuality in the New Testament," in Seow, supra, at 39.
  • Thomas E. Schmidt, "Romans 1:26-27 and Biblical Sexuality," in John Corvino, ed., In Same Sex:  Debating  the Ethics, Science, and Culture of Homosexuality at 93 (1997).

At the same time (2002), I wrote that recent pieces dissenting from the traditional reading in favor of a different reading--a reading according to which the Bible does not teach that homosexual sexual conduct is always immoral--include:

  • Brian K. Blount, Reading and Understanding the New Testament on Homosexuality," in Seow, supra, at 28.
  • Victor Paul Furnish, "The Bible and Homosexuality:  Reading the Texts in Context," in Siker, ed., at 18.
  • Daniel A. Helminiak, "The Bible on Homosexuality:  Ethically Neutral," in Corvino, supra, at 81.
  • Bruce J. Malina, "The New Testament and Homosexuality," in Patricia Beattie Jung with Joseph Andrew Coray, eds., Sexual Diversity and Catholicism:  Toward the Development of Moral Theology at 150 (2001).
  • Choon-Leong Seow, "A Heterotextual Perspective," in Seow, supra, at 14.
  • Jeffrey S. Siker, "Homosexual Christians, The Bible, and Gentile Inclusion:  Confessions of a Repenting Heterosexist," in Siker, supra, at 178.

There is--and it is undeniable that there is--an increasingly widespread, transdenominational disagreement among Christians over whether, according to the Bible, homosexual sexual conduct is invariably immoral--immoral without regard to any particularities of context.

Something Galileo Galilei wrote is worth pondering here:

The reason produced for condemning the opinion that th earth moves and the sun stands still is that in many places in the Bible one may read that the sun moves and the earth stands still.  Since the Bible cannot err, it follows as a necessary consequence that anyone takes an erroneous and heretical position who maintains that the sun is inherently motionless and the earth movable.

     With regard to this argument, I think in the first place that it is very pious to say and prudent to affirm that the holy Bible can never speak untruth--whenever its true meaning is understood.  But I believe that nobody will deny that it is often very abstruse, and may say things which are quite different from what its bare words signify.  Hence if in expounding the Bible one were always to confine oneself to the unadorned grammatical meaning, one might fall into error.  Not only contradictions and propositions far from true might thus be made to appear in the Bible, but even grave heresies and follies.

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