>Soulforce Part II: Scripture

Posted: 20/10/2008 in homosexuality, mel white, soul force, the bible

>Having dealt with the rhetorical appeals, I cautiously move onto Mel White’s talk about scripture. I will write mostly on his fourth through sixth premises. I had lousy adjuncts as my Bible professors, so this section will be short. This section might be entitled “What Mel White shows, and doesn’t show, about homosexuality.”

Mel White’s first premise is this:

The Bible is a book about God–not a book about human sexuality. The Bible is a story about God’s love for the world. It tells the history of God’s love at work rescuing, renewing, and empowering mankind. It was never intended to be a book about human sexuality. Certainly, you will agree.

Certainly this is questionable? Obviously, all people think the Bible is a book about God’s relationship with humanity, but why on earth should we believe that this excludes a discussion about our sexuality? A wise Bible professor (who is on the other side of the debate) once said that sex is not bad, sex is powerful. Since the Bible is about “God’s love at work rescuing, renewing, and empowering mankind,” wouldn’t we expect it to deal with something as powerful as sex? Is White’s first premise not as strange as “The Bible is a book about God –not economics and money” or “The Bible is a book about God –not governments and rulers”?

To support this claim, White proceeds to list off a series of obscure, agreeably out-dated, passages from the Old Testament. White wants to remind us that much of what the Bible says about sex we do not follow. Yet in this assertion, he defeats his first claim: the Bible is not a book about human sexuality. Perhaps he means “The Bible is not a book primarily about human sexuality.” Yet this still doesn’t mean that we should simply be dismissive when we find in the Bible discussing it. It is true that much of the old laws that White cites are obscure and strange –and we should not follow them literally, but this does not mean that God no longer uses scripture to inform our sexuality.

From here, Mel examines several verses from the Bible. I think he does a good job with most of them, however, I must take issue with interpretation of Genesis creation story. Mel uses his first premise (The Bible is about God, not sexuality) to completely dismiss a priori any discussion the creation story might say on sexually. I do not think that this is fair. Maybe the creation story does not condemn homosexuality, but I think it affirms heterosexuality.

The reason I believe this is because of the work of Catholic philosophers like Peter Kreeft. In short, human heterosexual romance and sexuality is a reflection of God’s self-contained love within the Trinity. This extends to his love for creating. Heterosexual romance points us towards a “sharing” in the creation of the pinnacle of God’s creation through reproduction. This is a type aesthetic beauty that cannot be found in homosexual relationships. What makes this point even stronger is that there was no logical need for God to create two different genders in order to reproduce. For some reason, God saw fit to create male and female.

Mel White does not address this well. His counter arguments of older couples or sterile couples still ignore a connection between heterosexual romantic feelings and our joining with God in the creation of new life. His treatment of the creation story is simply far to reductionist. It is Mel White that misses hearing something here, not the conservatives.

Mel White’s treatment of Sodom is much better. You do not have to be liberal to think that this passage is not a condemnation of homosexuality itself. One general rule of interpreting scripture is that “scripture best interprets scripture.” So if Ezekiel tells us that Sodom was destroyed for pride, greed, and arrogance, then the conservatives ought to concede that point. Now of course, this may not be an either/or issue. God had plenty of problems with sexual sin that went on there too. But violent rape is not an essential element of homosexuality. Therefore, I do not think that Christians should appeal to Genesis 19 to condemn homosexuality.

The remaining passages that Mel White cites I do not feel competent to comment on (like I said, two lousy adjuncts), so I will be silent on them. From here, let us temporarily concede all of Soul Force’s remaining points about scripture. Let us also ignore the Genesis issue. I’ll even feign agreement to White’s point that the Bible authors knew nothing about homosexuality, since it wasn’t “discovered” until the 19th century.* How far has White taken us?

What White has done, and what I think is the best that liberal wing can do with scripture, is show that scripture does not explicitly condemn homosexuality. What he has failed to do is show how scripture affirms homosexuality. This may not seem like a problem for some, but it ignores Christian tradition. Throughout history, when Christians have broken with tradition (say, the debate about woman in church) they usually point out to how scripture affirms their (newer) viewpoint (Jesus, a radical Rabbi, spoke to women). Why is Soul Force, in this huge pamphlet, not pointing out the affirmation? Is this silence the real reason behind premise four? I, for one, would love it if the liberals could produce an affirmation of homosexuality.

The liberal wing has a lot against them. They have, thus far, an unanimous agreement of all Christian Doctrine so far –even post reformation. They also have much of Christianity outside Europe and North America in disagreement with them. Until they can produce a very compelling affirmation for homosexuality, the lack of a “yes” from scripture remains their Achilles’ Heal.

Throughout the article, Mel White used science to affirm homosexuality. It will be this subject I deal with in the third blog.
Thanks for reading.

*Although I find this view absurd. Google “homosexuality in history” to see why.

  1. Q says:

    >I really appreciate this section. I think you’ve pointed out some good issues, and I appreciate your humility in not trying to guess on some pretty difficult passages (perhaps I should start taking that advice).I’m looking forward to your section on science.I voted on Friday; had to make a really difficult decision on Prop 8, but I think I feel ok with it.

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