Homosexuality and the Bible
On this day of Easter I decided to go over some of the material I’ve been planning to review for some time: I went through a lot of this some years ago, when I was first deciding about my “coming out”, but it’s always good to remind oneself of the basics. I realized some weeks ago that I had forgotten some of the material; I was visiting one of the local colleges and one of the professors sidelined me a bit when he criticized my marriage to my husband. I had not encountered someone who was so vehemently anti-gay since I left Arkansas. I knew there were groups like that here in Ontario, and individuals such as Charles McVety (see National Post reviews), but they are mostly outside my experience of late. Although I’ve appreciated the distance, it seems it’s time to return to the fray.
I first discovered this essay some years ago: it’s not really a book, it’s only 16 page long. Being from a more conservative tradition, I read a number of critiques of his work: most were more angry than logical, like these one at “Jesus is Savior”.com. My biggest difficulty with such pieces is that they have obviously rejected the argument without even looking at it, so any kind of discussion becomes impossible. They see Dr. Wink’s work as a threat to their faith rather than an attempt to open it to others. The biggest threat that I see is that he threatens the standard interpretation of homosexuality as a sin, challenging the hermeneutic that has built the current antipathy toward homosexuality, and offers little in return. What we had were rules and laws in the Word of God; Dr. Wink jumps to what is essentially a practical interpretation without anything in between. We recognize that the Bible speaks against divorce and that conservative states have as high as divorce rate as anywhere else; Dr. Wink tries to show that this means our theology evolves with our culture, but I don’t really buy that logic. We need to have more of a justification for shifting our sexual mores than simply “the law of love”.
One thing I did appreciate, however, and I remember this the first time I read the essay. This was the first time an author reflected my own experience with Romans 1. Sometimes called the “clobber passage” because many feel it so obviously slams homosexuality, it took me a bit to understand it: the first time I read it, I did not see that it was about homosexuality at all. You see, for me, my attraction toward other men was completely natural. It took a while, when I was young, to realize everyone didn’t experience the same desires. I never “abandoned the natural function of the woman” (Rom 1:27) at all, because I never felt it in the first place, and I certainly never “committed indecent acts” with anyone. So I completely related to Dr. Wink when he wrote: “No doubt Paul was unaware of the distinction between sexual orientation… and sexual behaviour… He seemed to assume that those whom he condemned were heterosexuals who were acting contrary to nature… Paul knew nothing of the modern psychosexual understanding of homosexuals… For such persons, having heterosexual relations would be acting contrary to nature, ‘leaving’, ‘giving up’, or ‘exchanging’ their natural sexual orientation for one that was unnatural to them.”