Can we find a way to address human sexuality?
This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the trajectory of Brian’s career, but in this chapter he finally defends the rightness of homosexual practice. He begins and ends with a couple of red herrings, describing those opposed to homosexual acts as “angry, dominating” fundasexuals (conservative Christians who seem overly preoccupied with sexual sins) and reminding heterosexuals that they have their fair share of promiscuity and divorce. This last point is sadly true enough, but I don’t understand how the sins of heterosexuals prevent me from saying that homosexual acts also are wrong.
Here are the various arguments which Brian uses to defend homosexual practice.
1. Male and female is a dualism which goes back to Plato, so if you oppose homosexual practice you are being Platonic. In Brian’s words, you are endorsing “the Platonic dualisms in which maleness and femaleness are two absolute, eternal categories of being into which all people fit.”
I covered this in an earlier post (“Interlude”), but let me say again that not all dualisms are Platonic and not all dualisms are wrong. Brian’s argument is also strange from a historical perspective, as Plato himself might have been gay. Plato said that you might remember the form of beauty when you look at a naked boy—an unfortunate statement which would have landed Plato on my state’s sex offender list.
2. Our experience should trump the authority of Scripture. He writes that “If a Christian today experiences gay friends, neighbors, colleagues, or relatives as healthy, sincere, and morally equal” then we must not “marginalize and discredit this experience” just because we think the Bible tells us “that they are rebellious and dangerous sinners, a twisted abomination, a…moral aberrance.”
Here I would appeal to Luther’s theology of the cross, which aptly reminds us to allow the Word of God to interpret what we see rather than the other way around. Brian is reading his Bible and experience from the wrong direction.
3. It is unchristian to say that homosexual practice is wrong for then we are condemning gays “simply for being who they are.”
I address this in chapter 5 of Don’t Stop Believing, so I’ll just say here that we must not allow homosexuals to define themselves by their homosexuality. They are essentially the image of God, not gay. We are actually defending who they are when we say that homosexual practice is not how an image bearer of God should behave. This may be difficult for some to hear, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t humbly and lovingly say it.
4. Brian says that “God demonstrates supreme solidarity…with the ones who are rejected and excluded…with the ones who are humiliated and shamed.” So we who “cast the first stone at the ‘sexually other’” are throwing rocks at God. Got it?
5. Biblically, if God accepted the Ethiopian eunuch (a marginalized sexual other) then we can expect God to be okay with other forms of sexual otherness, including homosexual practice.
Observe that Brian conflates loving a person and accepting what they do, as if bringing the gospel to a eunuch or homosexual connotes acceptance of a homosexual lifestyle. He also equates being a eunuch, which is a non-moral issue, with homosexual practice, which is a decidedly moral one.
6. Rather than criticize homosexual practice we should be thanking gay people, for “By coming out of the closet regarding their homosexuality, gay folks may help the rest of us come out of the closet regarding our sexuality” (emphasis his).
I am sure that coming out is often difficult and I would gladly embrace anyone who feels isolated and ostracized. But openness is not our greatest moral achievement. I don’t think God grants unrepentant sinners a free pass simply because they’re vulnerable. And neither do we. I’m not saying that these sins are in the same category as homosexual practice, but just as we don’t exonerate Bernie Madoff because he said “I did it!” or John Edwards because he finally let his baby girl out of the closet, so I don’t see why we must look the other way when someone admits they commit homosexual acts.