Christopher Benson—Toward A Better Conversation about Same-Sex Unions among Christians

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just at the point of exhaustion and irritability, when we think the debate on homosexuality in the church has reached its end—with every position articulated, every line drawn in the sand, every constituency ghettoized—other voices emerge to remind us that the conversation must proceed. Despite anxiety for ourselves and the church, the conversation must proceed because God has called us to this annoyance as he has called previous generations of Christians to other annoyances; the interpretation of Scripture requires us to think deeply and wait patiently upon God; the shalom of the church is at risk if we close down the search for agreement; and, lest we forget, some of God’s precious children live upon the rack.

Three fresh and challenging voices aid us in their books: Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan), Jenell Williams Paris’s The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are (IVP), and Oliver O’Donovan’s Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion (Cascade). Here’s a “gay Christian” and burgeoning New Testament scholar who pursues the vocation of celibacy (Hill), an anthropologist who questions our unexamined appropriation of sexual identity categories (Paris), and a British theologian who reflects on the troubles in his church without entanglement in America’s culture wars (O’Donovan). Two big ideas emerge from their writing. They who have ears, let them hear.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchBooksSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

7 Comments
Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Yebonoma wrote:

Let’s see; we’re turning ourselves into pretzels over what is, at most, 2-3% of the population, because that overly vocal, strident 2-3% is an effective club for the liberal progressives to use to beat up on orthodox Christians.  I am so sick of people telling me that if I don’t loudly affirm their behaviors and acts, I am being judgmental.  This article also makes little distinction between same sex affection and homosexual acts.

The joining of two people as one flesh is much more than just a physical act and the Bible makes this clear time after time.  I have some sympathy for the gentlemen who has chosen celibacy.  I would really like to know what in his background set him on a course to feel that same sex attraction and celibacy are his only options.

August 1, 1:10 pm | [comment link]
2. drummie wrote:

Paris’s book seems to be nothing but a restatement of the feminist ideas of the 70’s to do away with gender so that we can do away with the God given and notated roles of men and women. Look what that has given us, illegal “ordiantions” that were reatified by the feminists and their sycophants, and when did the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and whatever other sexuality you want to claim start taking over society and the Church? Look back to the feminist movements of the 1970’s. I am not trying to stir up a sexist argument, just stating what happened. From Genisis to Revelation there is a role for men and women that God established, and they are not the same and are not interchangeable. I feel like that is when the beginiing of all the chaos we have bee seeing got fanned into the burning mess it has become. The issue is not about homosexuality, heterosexuality or any other alleged sexuality, it is about the authority and Truth of the Bible. Either it is or it isn’t. When you twist it to justify, rationalize, or just plain approve sin, you have departed Christianity. Yes, all of us as humans and Christians are sinners, that is part of the central tennent of Christianity, Christ came into the world to save sinners. What is so hard to understand?

August 1, 5:56 pm | [comment link]
3. lostdesert wrote:

Drummie writes ......

From Genisis to Revelation there is a role for men and women that God established, and they are not the same and are not interchangeable. I feel like that is when the beginiing of all the chaos we have bee seeing got fanned into the burning mess it has become. The issue is not about homosexuality, heterosexuality or any other alleged sexuality, it is about the authority and Truth of the Bible. Either it is or it isn’t. 

That is right on the mark.  This is about our obedience to God.

August 1, 7:53 pm | [comment link]
4. Ross Gill wrote:

The money quote for me was:

Hill quotes philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, “I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’” It’s this prior question that gets ignored in the debate on homosexuality because the church has mistakenly given primacy to ethics over the narrative functions of doctrine and ministry.

Clearly, if we declare ourselves to be part of God’s grand narrative from creation to new creation then that narrative will be what will inform our thoughts and actions.  Of course this then explains why so many want to revise the story to their own liking.

Ross

August 1, 9:33 pm | [comment link]
5. Todd Granger wrote:

The challenge, I submit, is for the church to develop a ministry of recognition, in which same-sex attracted persons are dignified—alongside others—as “beloved,” while avoiding a ministry of difference, where such persons are excused from integration, licensed to innovate beyond Scripture and tradition. Put differently, same-sex attracted persons should be grafted onto—not subtracted from—the one tree of Christ, nourished from that root (Rom. 11:11–24).

This is the way forward.

August 2, 1:13 am | [comment link]
6. c.r.seitz wrote:

Hill is the new NT hire at Trinity in Pittsburgh.

August 2, 7:33 am | [comment link]
7. Phil Harrold wrote:

Yes, that’s right, Chris:  we’re very honored to have Wes Hill join us on the faculty here at Trinity.  I also appreciated the reviewer’s citing of O’Donovan.  Excellent resources all in all.

August 2, 11:35 am | [comment link]
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