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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Homosexuality (Part 1)

I do not usually do this, but recently a total stranger sent me an e-mail asking me all sorts of questions about the sin of homosexuality. This person set the tone of the discussions by telling me (here I quote), “Homosexuality only means same sex attraction.” This being the case, based upon this person’s definition, homosexuality could not possibly be considered a sin via the Scriptural references that are typically provided.

While I was quite willing to discuss the issues which this person had originally asked me, I was fairly stunned at the, dare I say unreasonable position, mixed with the narrow definition that this person provided. In the midst of our e-mail exchanges I received a response to one of my e-mails that declared, “Romans 1 only has Paul condemn same sex lust in passions, in idolotry, how's that a case on same sex love? And 1 cor 6 and 1 tim has Paul use [sic] the ancient greek [sic] word arsenokotie which doesn't mean homosexual, but male lust.How has lust got anything to do with love?”

I’m not sure exactly how to unpack the above quote, especially since there are so many shifts/transitions in the overall thought. So, in hopes to get my thoughts out on the table regarding this issue, especially in light of this person’s comments/thoughts/ideas, I intend to post on the issue in response to this person’s e-mails to me. The initial question that was posed in the original e-mail to me was, “What are your thoughts on same sex romantic love, and where does the Bible say that it is sinful?”

It will be to this question, and this person’s responses that these next few posts will be devoted. Please feel free to comment on the subject as I really would like everyone’s feedback on this issue.


Blogger Cliff Brown said...

Every one is tempted. Jesus was tempted to do more than just turn stones into food. He was tempted in every was as the rest of us. Being tempted is not a sin. Yielding to tepmtation is a sin. A lustfull attraction that passes threw the mind but is quickly pushed out by good thoughts is not a sin. Continuing to dwell in those thoughts is a sin.

It looks like the question you have is not about temptation or even commiting the act of homosexulaty. He seems to believe any thing is ok as long as it is within a loving committed relationship. The scriptures he used all say nip it in the bud. Push out the thought before it turns into the illusion of love. The bible never says not to lust after something that is not a sin any way.

I am not sure that is helpful. I will keep an eye on this post and read with interest what develope from you and other commenters. I do think there may be hope for the person you are talking with. He did not ask just for accidemic reasons but is reaching for help.

10:44 AM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Cliff,

I agree with your assessment. I am not sure if he was reaching out for help or not, he never admitted that he was "suffering" from all this, as if it was a struggle for him. He may have simply been grappling with the issue itself without it actually being "an issue" in his own life. I actually do not know.

I agree that temptation is not a sin. I think as the posts continue it will all make more sense - and of course I will add my "two cents" as far as what I think about the issue. Thanks for the feedback.

9:26 PM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Aw shucks! You were in Atlanta and you didn't even come to see me?!! What about all 4 of my cute kids? You didn't want to see them either?I think I'll take offense to that...

But, now that I'm over being offended, I'll also chip in here, if I may?

I once read a little on this issue, from various Protestants, and I recall an interesting article I perused in a journal while we were at SES. The gist of the article was an in-depth exploration of all the relevant passages which seemingly condemn homosexuality or various homosexual acts. The punchline of the exegete was that, in his possibly humble opinion, the only homosexual act clearly prohibited by Scripture is male-to-male sodomy.

Now, I'm the furthest thing from an exegete, as you well know, so I cannot possibly verify from the Hebrew or Greek whether that it so. But, if it is, I was struck at the possibility of that interpretation. Read in the English, it seems clear enough what is being said by St. Paul or the Pentateuchal passages.

Now some, like the good old chaplain at Harvard, Rev. Gomes, have argued that Romans 1 only condemns those acts and feelings for whom it is "unnatural." And presumably it is unnatural for a heterosexual to feel or act in homosexual ways, so for him it is forbidden or in some way wrong. But, for the homosexual, who is so inclined, St. Paul is saying nothing in the passage. Of course, one can come to that interpretation, it seems to me, only by quite a bit of eisegesis (sp?)--> by reading a good bit into the mind of St. Paul who was, in Bishop Spong's estimation, clearly a homosexual anyway.

IMHO, it seems that as in most other areas of morality (or Moral Theology) one must appeal quite a bit outside of Scripture to help one's case in an argument of this sort. As you probably well know, the Catholic Church speaks of homosexuality as "instrinsically disordered" and has done so for a long time (cf. CCC 2357). Of course, the suspicion that this is so does begin from Scripture, I would think, and from the unanimous consent of the Fathers in their understanding of the Scripture in the relevant passages. But, one must go much further in the argument toward, what is commonly known as the "Theology of the Body," a concept largely attributed to the theological anthropology spearheaded by Pope John Paul II. In his Apostolic Exhortation "familiaris consortio" (1981), he continues the logic of conjugal love argued for by Pope Paul VI in humanae vitae, to wit, conjugal love is, in its most basic nature, full and mutual (ie, reciprocal) self-giving of spouses. To give everything to a spouse is to fully love that spouse. And the spouse is called to give everything in return. Now, what we are, as human persons, encompasses a lot. At least one thing it encompasses, as it is relevant to homosexuality, is fecundity. What it is to be human is to be fecund. But, what it is to be male and female (since a human is expressed in one of the two genders--there are no genderless humans) is to be fecund in a complimentary way. The man gives of himself to the woman, and the woman receives her man and gives all of herself as well--in the conjugal act. I'm just introducing the basic tenets here. The full text with the fuller argument can be found at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_19811122_familiaris-consortio_en.html.

Now, a man can give of himself physically (conjugally) to another man in some limited ways. But, those ways are not complimentary (physically speaking, to say nothing of soulfully speaking) in the same ways in which the biological expressions are complimentary between a man and a woman. (No need to get explicit here. I'm sure you've got the idea.) But, more to the point. To love is to give of oneself completely--body and soul. But, to give of myself completely is to give my fecundity to my mate. And the simply biological fact is that a man cannot give of his fecundity to another man, because that other cannot receive it. There is no way to unite two persons of the same gender such as to give and receive fecundity between them. So, no procreation. So, no transmission of life. So, the homosexual act itself is necessarily, in some way, an end in itself. It is instrumental for nothing. The erotic pleasure is the end. And as St. Augustine (and St. Thomas Aquinas, I might add) argue, to treat of the conjugal act as an end in itself is to fundamentally disorder it. Because to treat it as an end is not to love because to love is to give, totally and freely. But, to have the most fundamental physical act between two persons be focused on, essentially, pleasure, is to not be able to rise above the animalistic nature of the conjugal act. It is true that there are animalistic facets of the conjugal act, but homosexuality reduces it to its merely animalistic facets, since it rids itself of the mutual complimentarity of male to female sexual love, as well as takes away one of the most crucial aspects of what it is to be human--to be fecund.

And then there is the offensive idea intrinsic to homosexuality that gender is merely reducible to the level of the physical distinctions between genitalia. That gender in no way affects a human at the level of the soul is, in my not-so-humble opinion here, preposterous. That idea put forth by so many in the homosexual community is not borne out in our experience of the world and the real distinctions that arise, soulfully, between men and women and how, again, those distinctions compliment each other.

This is a lot. I know. But, in reality it merely scratches the surface of the full-blown Catholic (and in many ways could also just be called "Christian") Theology of the Body, or theological anthropology. May it give you some food for thought in your journey towards an answer. As I said above, you will necessarily have to go far beyond the biblical text alone in trying to deal with the arguments put forth by your acquaintance.

I wish you all the best in this exploration!

-Your friend,

11:41 AM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Jeremiah,

We did not actually stay in Atlanta, we were actually about an hour north. This was actually Eric Austin's wedding, and Josh and his wife Sarah flew to Atlanta with us to be in the wedding. Probably should have at least given you a call though - however, we will actually go back sometime soon to see Eric and his new wife.

Now, on to your comments. Very well put, and in much more detail than i would ever get into in these posts. I agree with you when you declare - "To love is to give of oneself completely--body and soul. But, to give of myself completely is to give my fecundity to my mate. And the simply biological fact is that a man cannot give of his fecundity to another man, because that other cannot receive it. There is no way to unite two persons of the same gender such as to give and receive fecundity between them."

That is actually what I will be posting about in the third part of this series - you beat me to the punch.

BTW, what happened to that high security job that has caused you to, more or less, "disapear"? Are you now "resurfacing?" ;-)

4:52 PM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Hey Todd!

Wow, Eric got married! That's wonderful. Guess who just sent me a wedding invitation, speaking of former SES'ers getting married? Michael Spicher. Did you know him--he was very young when you were leaving the seminary. Very aesthetically-minded. He's getting married in Charlotte the same day as the SES Apologetics Conference-Nov 11, I think. Anyway, it's great to hear of everyone getting married off--bout time for many of them.

Anyway, sorry to beat you to the punch on your post. I hate to even appear like I'm trying to steal thunder. But, I'm confindent your post will be much more thunderous than my little comment. I was just hoping to introduce some of that theological anthropology to you, in case you hadn't really encountered it much before. It's quite a big thing in Catholic sexual ethics these days.

6:54 PM, October 07, 2006  

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