Monday, 4 January 2010

Gay Africa - the discussion over at Think Christian

I don't normally really have time to get involved in online discussions but got waylaid a little this evening by David Ker's post at Think Christian on Gay Africa.
Here's the first paragraph from David's piece:

For those of us who label homosexual practice as a sin it can be easy to get muddled up about government attempts to legislate and prosecute sexual behavior. There is a difference between legislation designed to protect the vulnerable from victimization and that which tries to monitor and control consensual relationships. We must stand up for children and women at risk. Society must create a safe environment for its citizens, free from rape, chronic abuse and exploitation. But while the church can condemn adultery, fornication, pornography, prostitution and homosexuality as corrosive behavior we shouldn’t try to police them. The church exists as a society within a society. We have an obligation to God’s Word and his flock to strive toward purity. But outside the walls of the church our role is different. We can be prophets of truth but never legislators of behavior. That’s why a theocracy like ancient Israel failed from the beginning. A quick survey of the crude and androcentric laws found in the Book of Numbers show just how wrong we can get it.
Continue reading and get involved in the comments here. Below is part of (well actually very nearly all of) my second comment. I suppose what I find interesting about very occassionally getting involved in these online discussions is how they can sometimes get me to say something I'd not written or even thought much about before. to be fair I have done quite a lot of thinking about homosexuality and about who is "in" and "out" for the church, I just don't write about it here, mainly because I'm very wary of getting drawn onto discussions I won't be able to cope with.
Let me also be clear that I don't equate "being" homosexual with "being" sinful anymore than I equate "being" heterosexual with "being" righteous. I am certainly as sinful a person as many of the homosexuals I know, as much in need of transformation and cleansing. I know many celibate homosexuals. I know many who live in faithful long term relationships. I can also fortunately say the same about many heterosexuals I know. I also have many friends who have left partners with whom they have had children and founded new relationships and had further children. I have welcomed them and many other sinners and impure people at the Lord's table - and I have presided that table knowing that I too am far from the transformed human being Christ calls me to be.
It sometimes seems to me that as divorce rates increase there has been a need amongst some of us in the church to look for a new sin to condemn that is not too close to home.
So easy to point to the need for healing in the unknown other and assume that their "lifestyle" is more impure than our own. The many stones of sin in my own hand would be - being rich (oh how difficult it is for a rich woman to get into the kingdom of heaven), being fat (not treating my body as temple of the Holy spirit), not practising the beatitudes or hearing the magnificat call sufficiently. Despite these very great failings (and the Bible has a lot to say about how we use our wealth) I still trust that Christ integrates me with grace and forgiveness to his table and church.


J. K. Gayle said...


I can't speak for anyone else, but I do think that many of us very much appreciate your thoughtful response to David's post. I think you speak for many of us and especially for those who struggle for a place and a voice in the church. (You make us like the Christ who seems so to like us, despite us!)

David Ker said...

Jane, I also appreciate your input. I'm afraid that the comment thread is deteriorating there because of Rick's careless reading of my post. It's hard to have these kinds of discussions online but worth it because I get to listen to people like you and JK.

Jane said...

thanks for your comments - both of you and sorry not to write sooner - when at work I really try to discipline myself and not get involved in my blog during that time! (I do still sneak looks at my stats tho'!)

I get involved in discussions not to prove that I am right but to share convictions. We use and interpret biblical texts in such extraordinary ways - are we allowed to have a life-giving hermeneutic or should we only ever have a sin-defining hermeneutic?

What if the 10 lepers are all homosexual and the one who turns back is the one with HIV? What is the 10 lepers are all French people and the one who turns back is a Moslem? What if the 10 lepers are Americans and teh one who turns back is black or hispanic or Chinese?
Why is it always about sin if it's about homosexuality? Must the "other" for ever be our scapegoat?
I try - I don't always succeed - to read the Bible with hermeneutic of that is life-giving. This means for instance that(as a feminist theologian) I can even in a way give thanks for the outrageous story of the concubine raped and then chopped to pieces in teh book of Judges. Does it justify violence against women? Does it glorify it? is it to be reduced to a story abotu sin? Or can it tell us even today - millennia later - something about the desperate depths human beings can sink to. I give thanks for that text because it means that the biblical narrative is not so distant from the tragic and desperate experiences of our own times.
Every human being is beautifully made. Every human being is flawed.