Monday, March 23, 2015

Alphabet Soup

Within present Christian discourse on homosexuality it is common to divide the playing field into two camps: side A and side B. These terms are sometimes confusing for people who aren't knee-deep in the conversation, so I offer a brief explanation:

Side A – Side A Christians believe that God sanctions loving, committed relationships between people of the same sex. They usually argue that the word “arsenokoitai” in St. Paul, which is usually translated as “homosexual” doesn't necessarily have that meaning – basically, that a homophobic reading of Scripture has become so deeply entrenched in Christian culture that it is enshrined in our English Bibles, but that it's not there in Paul. They would argue that St. Paul was condemning abusive same-sex practices, like pederasty and the sexual abuse of male slaves. As for Leviticus, it's a set of ritual purity laws and huge swathes of it have been out of use in Christianity since the First Council of Jerusalem.

Side B – Side B Christians believe that there are strong Scriptural and traditional reasons for believing that God originally intended marriage to be a union between a man and a woman ordered towards procreation, and that sex is reserved for such unions. A gay or lesbian Christian may have particular gifts or charisms related to their sexuality, they shouldn't be ashamed of being gay and should not expect their orientation to change, but they are called to live chastely.

Are these the only positions that people can hold? Certainly not. One of the difficulties that often arises when we're having these conversations is that people will say things like “queers believe,” or “Christians say,” or “according to the gay community...” These are absurd statements because they assume that there is one Christian perspective and one gay perspective. In practice, this means that if someone has read a statement by one gay person or one Christian and they disagree with it, they will behave as though it the universal belief of everyone on the “other side” of the debate. So, as a fun exercise, here are 24 other possible positions that people might hold: