Sunday, 25 November 2012

Christianity and homosexuality. Part 1

A Christian friend of mine (with no significant internet presence that I am aware of) has asked me about homosexuality. His basic question, embedded in a longer email, was:
I can’t see why God would have a problem with homosexuality, assuming that is was ‘good’ homosexuality. We have many, many examples of ‘bad’ heterosexuality. If we take all of what we say a monogamous, loving, ‘Godly’, heterosexual marriage should be and call that a ‘good’ relationship then I can’t see any difference if you just slotted in the word homosexual instead of heterosexual (except, obviously, you can’t have kids – leaving homosexual adoption etc aside). It’s not a matter of homosexuality means the population won’t grow or be able to look after us in our old age – as was the case in Biblical times.
Part of the difficulty answering this is that he is familiar with various other Christian controversies and observes that many people just quote mine Scripture to support their view. This can be true at times, parts of the Bible are used to hold up a prefabricated structure rather than the entire Bible forming the foundation and walls. Such an approach to Scripture can be a temptation, though I would argue that many Christians try to reframe their thinking from Scripture. Therefore he is not that interested in a list of verses refuting homosexuality as others could just offer an alternative list. Though I think finding verses showing the acceptability of homosexual behaviour and unions from Scripture is difficult, I will address the larger issue as I see it.

The arguments that homosexual behaviour is iniquitous comes from both general and specific revelation: nature and scriptural commands against it. Understanding the broader intentions of God gives reasons for these commands. I will initially post on general revelation, specific general revelation, and what could possibly be titled allegory.

The natural argument is significant. Christians know that the world is designed and hence purposeful. Teleology is asserted though variably understood. The natural anatomy of men and women is clearly complementary. The main purpose of the penis and the sole purpose of the vagina is coitus. The gonads are anatomically and functionally associated with them. The urethra is a conduit for urine, but its position is related to the presence of a penis, it merely needs to exit the body from the bladder and its location seems convenient. The uterus (womb) is anatomically intermediate between the vagina (coitus) and ovaries (reproduction). An anatomical connection is a biological necessity. The uterus is also functionally associated with the ovaries with regard to reproduction.

This knowledge of both the anatomy and the function of the sex organs in relation to coitus and reproduction demonstrates that men and women were designed complementary. This does not deny that an organ can have duel function, such as taste and speech with the tongue. Nor that an activity is restricted to a single function. Eating brings sustenance and pleasure. Coitus can give pleasure, produce intimacy, and create life. The point is that nature shows us that heterosexual coitus is how humans were designed to operate. To argue for sodomy (heterosexual or homosexual) one would need to show how such an activity is part of human design: a duel function analogous to the tongue being a taste organ as well as a speech organ.

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.

2 comments:

  1. Immediate reaction: should we refrain from any use of an object which was not part of its natural function? It would be difficult to argue that oil was designed to be used as fuel, yet that is precisely how we use it.

    While I know I agree with you ultimately, and I do think that the natural argument is a significant piece of the puzzle so to speak, I think it is difficult to prove that the natural design yields ethical imperitive. I honestly would like to know why it would.

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  2. JCF. Firstly I don't agree with the oil example, it is not a clear design example. Design is connected to information. Oil has minimal informational content thus purpose is difficult to claim. A better example would be a tree, or a gun.

    A gun can be used as a doorstop, or hammer, or paperweight. But one cannot argue that it is designed for these purposes.

    When it comes to sexuality comes with moral commands attached, thus design is relevant. We are commanded to be sexually pure, thus understanding how sex is designed helps us know how we obey such a command. Or course it involves more than function, but it can hardly involve less.

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