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David Gushee's Gay-Switch, Biblical Scholarship, and Slanted Reporting

Dr. Gushee has recast bad scholarship as martyrdom. According to his FB post, there are only two kinds of people in the world: Those who care for same-sex attracted persons and those who don't. He feels that love for same-sex attracted persons demands that we twist Scripture to mean what it can't possibly mean, read in its historical and literary context, so that such persons can now enter into homosexual unions free of any societal reservation or stricture. Never mind that Paul viewed such behavior as a dishonoring of the integrity of one's gender vis-à-vis one's own sex; or that Jesus viewed a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations as foundational for sexual ethics according to God. All of that must be dispensed since it can't possibly be loving to believe such things. Dr. Gushee apparently thinks that he is a better, more compassionate ethicist than Jesus.

I later looked at his Part 9 posting on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was as badly researched as his piece on 1 Cor 6:9. Again, he ignored all the counterarguments that I put forward more than a decade ago regarding interpretation of the Sodom narrative (The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 71-91). I point readers to a shorter online summary of the arguments here.

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(2) Regarding Mr. Merritt's and Dr. Gushee's extreme description of those who disagree:

As I noted earlier, Mr. Merritt, in agreement with Dr. Gushee, refers to everyone who agrees with Jesus' stance on a male-female prerequisite as a "hardline conservative" and a member of the "far right."

Mr. Merritt and Dr. Gushee must be correct in their pejorative labels because we all know that drawing the conclusion that the appropriate sexual counterpart to a man is a woman and to a woman a man is completely obscurantist. Why should the views of Jesus, the apostolic witness to him in the New Testament, the Old Testament witness from Genesis, the witness of early Judaism, and the united witness of the Church Fathers, the Reformers, and everyone of note in the Judeo-Christian tradition until only the last few decades be regarded as a centrist theological position? We're not just "right"; we're "far right." We're not just "conservative"; we're "hardline conservative." I guess that using such extreme nomenclature helps Mr. Merritt and Dr. Gushee to deceive themselves into thinking that they are in some sort of moderate theological middle relative to worldwide Christianity.

But how can we not agree with their labels for us as extremists? After all, it is not at all obvious that anatomically, physiologically, and even psychologically men and women are sexual complements. (What was St. Paul thinking when he referred to this as a deliberate suppression of the truth?) And it is not at all self-evident that the absence of a true sexual complement in homosexual unions results in disproportionately high rates of measurable harm in male homosexuality and female homosexuality but at different rates for each group that corresponds to gender type.

Then, too, it is certainly clear that claiming congenital influences on homosexual development constitutes a great moral argument for endorsing the behavior arising from those desires. We all know that innate urges with a biological basis are usually or always good and should be promoted (like a polyamorous orientation, greed, pride, envy, jealousy, etc.). Don't we know this?

It is also crystal clear that the arguments used to endorse homosexual unions have nothing to do with undermining sexual standards on adult-consensual forms of polyamory and incest. It is not as if the twoness of the sexual bond has any relationship to the twoness of the sexes (as Jesus thought) or that the elimination of a principle of sexual otherness has any bearing on the elimination of a lesser principle of kinship otherness, right?

We can all be thankful for these extreme descriptions of us by Mr. Merritt and Dr. Gushee 'cause us far-right hillbillies recently began walking upright and still subscribe to Soldier of Fortune magazine, right?

Satire these characterizations deserve. Satire they get. And now to switch gears...

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(3) Regarding the impact on Dr. Gushee of his lesbian sister:

I sympathize with the struggle of Dr. Gushee's sister Katey and with the struggle of all those like her. Yet I disagree that the solution to the problem is to put one's own desires over the will of God clearly expressed by Jesus, the apostolic witness to him in Scripture, and indeed the entirety of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation (to say nothing of philosophic nature arguments and science, both of which lend further support to the overwhelming biblical witness). All of us are called to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and lose our lives, and follow Jesus. None of us gets an exemption.

To be sure, I don't struggle with same-sex attractions like Katey, though I am honored to be close friends with many who do and who nonetheless continue to live a life of faithfulness before the Lord. All of us have one or more areas of life (some of an even more serious nature than same-sex attractions) where we are called on by God to let the "dying of Jesus" become manifest in our body so that the "life of Jesus" might likewise become manifest (as Paul mentions in 2 Cor 4:7-11). Nobody gets a pass from a cruciform life, out of which resurrection follows.

The church is called by God to come alongside all those who suffer and to encourage such in the midst of hardships and deprivations that God's grace will in the long run prove itself sufficient even in the midst of hardships and deprivations, because knowing God is so great that it more than makes up for life's deficiencies. In fact, God's power is brought to completion precisely in the midst of our weaknesses. Consequently we can even delight in these weaknesses because through them we learn what it is to rely on the God who raises from the dead (2 Cor 12:7-10; 1:8-10).

We have no right to short-circuit the work of God, who through the Spirit is in the business of transforming us into the image of his Son, by assuring people falsely that God does not regard this or that behavior as an egregious violation of the divine will. I do not fault Dr. Gushee for sympathizing with those who suffer. I fault him for distorting the message of Jesus and the apostles through bad exegesis and, worse still, for playing the role of God in granting immunity from divine judgment for behavior against which God gives grave warnings.

When Mr. Merritt and Dr. Gushee pejoratively label such responses as "hardline conservative," "far right" "backlash," it is relatively transparent that they are using manipulative rhetoric to cover up the problems with their position and, ultimately, the lack of true love in that position. When Paul began his moral exhortation (paraenesis) to the Roman believers, he stated, "Let love be without phoniness [or: pretending, play-acting]," immediately adding: "abhorring [or: detesting, strongly hating] what is evil, joining [or: gluing, attaching] yourselves to what is good" (12:9; my trans.). Unfortunately for Gushee, one can't really do the first without attending to the second and third. When one calls what God declares an evil to be a good, one's "love" is phony, a mere pretense, a play-acting. Love must be genuine, which means (with Jesus) that one's outreach to the lost includes a call to repentance and to discipleship.

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