Thursday, July 2, 2015

History does repeat itself...

Traditionalists confess their fidelity (while dragging their feet, kicking and screaming inside) against speculative innovations while professing themselves to be those uniquely faithful to the ancient traditions.

This current situation reminds me of those Jewish Christians (usually associated with James) who demanded the Gentiles become Jews (submit to circumcision) if they ever hoped to join the faithful Jewish community of Jesus followers. There's no way like the old established way. There's no way, but the old way. The Torah is eternal in the heavens. It must be followed or at least the oral tradition that grew up around it.

Except a minority of dreamers decided otherwise. They saw that change was necessary even when seen as contrary to the tradition and Torah that the new faith might advance among new groups. 

The situation was competitive with the nascent faith or so the synagogue hoped, but they really didn't have a chance. The new house churches in Antioch openly received these strange polytheistic Gentiles without spilling their blood in the old covenantal ritual. The synagogue and the Jewish Christians were appalled at these abominations. Such acceptance meant mixing of established kinds. God must judge such faithlessness. We must crush it out before we are judged ourselves.

However the opposite happened as the decades marched on. The surviving Ebionites became extinct, and only the product of loving innovation flourished with faith communities of Gentiles all over the Roman Empire.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

This time I was glad to be wrong

The developments of the week of June 21st have not been particularly disturbing to me for both personal reasons and my own lengthy as well as continuing process of research and rethinking about biblical evidence. I should explain.

We can start with a question not commonly asked.

When does sexual activity between two persons constitute sin?

There is one answer to this question that I immediately must reject since it chooses to ignore some basic facts of biology.The purpose of sex sin definition as I characterize the Roman Catholic view appears to advance the idea that any sexual activity that aims for orgasmic pleasure and not procreative reproduction is sin. To hold that sex is divinely designed for reproduction ONLY simply means refusing to understand that humans are not like animals that go into heat (even though once used as a biblical metaphor for rampant idolatry). It is clear therefore that humans can and do enjoy sexual activities well outside the limited times of ovulation.

I hold a Protestant understanding (or should I say a more biblically oriented view like one finds in Song of Songs). Within the marital covenant any and all sexual activity is encouraged that is agreeable to both so involved. Simply stated marriage makes sex morally acceptable.
Thus to my simple way of thinking... traditionlly the discussion centers around addressing the question of marital status. If the two persons so involved are not married, sexual activity is sin, though in our society it seems this judgment seems to be especially applied to women. 

Framed from this status at least three categories of relations may be identified: premarital, extramarital (while married some adulterous activity), and post marital (after the death or divorce of one's spouse). 

Homosexual sexual activities over the centuries past therefore by definition must be considered sin since any such relations taking whatever form of the three just mentioned happen outside the marriage arrangement. 

By this simple reasoning I suggested years ago that if some marriage ceremony might be applied to nonheterosexual couples, their marital status would change and thus also the moral evaluation of said couples. For when the marital criteria is fulfilled it would logically follow that such sexual relations after, become morally acceptable having been "blessed" through a marriage ceremony.
After asserting this theological outcome, I then said that I truly never expected to see any such development in my own lifetime. It probably will be decades away if it ever happens.

Saturday, the day after the SCOTUS ruling, I remembered this discussion with my students from years ago. So yes, I am very pleased that I lived long enough to see that my negative assessment of future possibilities was wrong.