Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two Articles on Homosexuality

If you frequent social media, you will be familiar with this. Hardly a day goes by without some people or some organization somewhere making a statement or two about homosexuality, gay matters, same-sex marriage, and so on. Today is no different. I like to share two articles. The first is a response by the Evangelical Alliance to Steve Chalke's recent statements about him supporting same-sex marriage. The second is written by a respected environmentalist and faith writer, Wendell Berry. I read  Chalke's article and how he forms a "way of grappling with it and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it seriously" the biblical teaching on homosexuality. His conclusion is the familiar four-letter word: "LOVE." You can read Steve Clifford's rebuttal here. He argues basically against Chalke's flawed understanding of inclusivity. Essentially, being inclusive does not necessarily mean we MUST accept the gay position on homosexuality.

1) Article #1 - Evangelical Alliance Response to Steve Chalke
In response, the first article is a 2012 report on "Biblical and Pastoral Responses to Homosexuality" published by the Evangelical Alliance in the UK. The full report is available for free for a limited time here. It brings together some of the traditional assertions of faith with regards to Christianity, the Bible, sexuality, and faith.

My Thoughts: Chalke's earnest desire to bring some closure to the event is already destined to fail. In fact, he is doing to homosexuality what Rob Bell has done for Hell in Love Wins. The track taken by Rob Bell is to find a way to seriously grapple with the cruelty of hell that led him to dilute the reality of hell. Likewise, Chalke in trying to make peace with the homosexuality perspective has put himself on the wrong side of compromise. There is a way to love without compromising our own convictions with regards to traditional marriage. Chalke's way is love with compromise. That said, I think it is not a good idea to force anybody's hand as learning to grapple takes time. Perhaps, there is some position more acceptable to all sometime in the future. For the moment, refrain from condemning anyone.

The article by the Evangelical Alliance (UK) is a helpful document for leaders to understand and to revisit what the central tenets of traditional faith say. What it is trying to do is to walk a fine balance with the attitude of "welcoming but not affirming" gay marriage. There are some useful tips in it.

2) Article #2 - Wendell Berry's Statement on Gay Marriage
I came across another writeup today, this time by Wendell Berry, a Kentucky farmer, whose article, "Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer" has some people accusing him of being anti-technology. His article on gay marriage risks himself being accused of supporting homosexuality. Wendell Berry admits that he rarely comments on this matter. He argues not on the basis of whether same-sex marriage per se is wrong but that denying same-sex couples their rights is in itself wrong. Moreover, Berry argues that there are other matters more serious than homosexual deviations. What he is particularly indignant about is that there are some quarters that try to marginalize various groups simply on the basis of homosexual status. He calls, "condemnation by category is the lowest form of hatred."

My Thoughts: Thinking of Wendell Berry's article on gay marriage, I think he has a point that argues for 'rights' and not whether homosexuality is right or wrong. It is the fight for a freedom of choice that he is harping on. In other words, no one must take the moral high ground to enforce people to believe what they do not want to believe. That is what freedom of religion and freedom of expression is all about. I concur, but I want also to add that this freedom must apply to all. Evangelicals have the right to defend and to uphold traditional marriage, even as gay activists insist upon their rights to some same-sex unions.

I look forward to the day when believers on Christ can speak their convictions without being labeled haters of some groups, bigots of some beliefs, or intolerants of various kinds. Those who believe in free speech must respect that. For example, when a person says he believes in traditional marriage, that does not necessarily mean he hates the rest. The same needs to be applied the other way too, that when a homosexual couple asserts their rights to gay marriage, those who oppose this position must not condemn them for their choices. It is a democracy after all. Do not play God. You can state your convictions. You can argue passionately for it. You can also disagree with the homosexual position. That does not mean you can call them names, condemn them, or brand them devilish. Only God has the right and authority to call anyone anything and anyhow.



Jackie Bolen said...

I agree with you that people should be able to state their beliefs, whether for or against gay marriage or any other subject for that matter. The issue for me is when laws prohibit gay people from getting married. Denying someone the basic right to choose who they wish to marry is wrong, especially when the couple does not profess to be Christians or to have any desire to follow the Bible's teachings (that's a whole other issue). If gay people have the same basic right to marry like anyone else, then Christians should feel free to speak against it if they wish. Until this day, Christians should be doing everything in their power to help this law pass, ensuring equality and justice for all in society, even the minority.

Conrade Yap, (Dr) said...

Hey Jackie, It's been a while. I understand your position. You've been pretty consistent so far, and indeed it is true that a person's freedom to choose is a sacred one. While the objective is similar, the implementation methods often differ.

Moreover, not all kinds of rights are the same. Take Canada's First Nations people for example. Are they are treated equally? Obviously, they do not think so. What about citizens and non-citizens of different countries? Medical benefits differ significantly even though they are human. The disagreement goes much farther. Should we lump marriage as a "basic right" together with other survival matters like water and air? Should we remove laws that prevent people from the freedom to hurt themselves or others? The gun laws in America is another "basic right" issue.

That is why the dialogue continues without much agreement for now. Christianity at large is so split over this one issue.

Thanks for commenting. So Korea is your new home?


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