Love Over Exegesis

I am quite aware, painfully so, of the many accessible and (some) strong biblical arguments against the legitimacy of same-sex relationships... But I am also, however, aware of the strong biblical arguments for the legitimacy of such relationships (let me direct you to the writings of Victor Paul Furnish in his chapter on the subject in The Moral Teachings of Paul as a starting point). Both sides of the argument share strengnths in common as well as weaknesses. You can find careful and responsible readings which come to opposing conclusions depending heavily on the theological framework from which they start. Both sides often share the weakness that they are limited to speaking of subjective and individual human experiences in general and often monolithic terms. But what is most common between both sides is that the argument demands a robust and careful exegetical and biblical justification--appealing to our experience, our tradition (historic orthodox Christian faith), and our reason.

In my experience, however, when you find such a theological and exegetical stalemate as that of the homosexuality debate, you've got to go elsewhere for your arguments. When we cannot find agreement on a particular passage of scripture, we've got to subject ourselves to what I call "narrative accountability"--what is the big picture? What larger or more accessible message in the scriptures might help inform our discussion on the subject?

It seems to me that when you come to terms with the strength on both sides of the argument between those who object to the legitimacy of homosexual relationships and those who advocate for it--if you concede that the match is even--and begin to locate the argument in the framework of the larger narrative and the things we hold in common, one side emerges with the upper hand.

When you set aside the purely exegetical and focus on the stories of the people in the middle, when you embrace the larger message of the scriptures as the primary location for theological reflection, then the mandate to love emerges as the priority and the conversation changes. The question becomes less about who is right and who is wrong, who is sinful and who is not, and more about what it looks like to love people and to affirm their dignity and humanity.

When I reflect on love, I cannot avoid the conviction that the church has failed at loving gay people. Condemnation for something that people cannot change has no biblical justification. When I reflect on love, it becomes more and more apparent that my responsibility to embrace people and accept them as they are supersedes my temptation to be their moral judge.

If you've made it this far and you are still like, "what's he talking about?!" let me recommend another blog post. Dan Pearce at Single Dad Laughing has recently written a post called "I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay" in which he makes an articulate and personal appeal for people to set aside the ideologies and presuppositions that hider them from simply loving and accepting "others" especially gay people. It's worth a read and it's not nearly as confusing as the above paragraphs you may or may not have read or understood.