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Travelling, groomsmaning, catching up with folks in Moscow, etc., have all gotten in the way of blogging in the past week. But lots of great ideas have still been flying around, especially about (what else?) homosexuality and catholicity. (I'm beginning to feel like that's all I talk about...yikes!) A friend of mine arranged a kind of reunion of old friends to chat theology, and I proposed this question for discussion: How are we to reconcile the demand for catholicity, church unity, patience amist disagreement with the widespread practice and condonement of homosexuality in the Church today? To prompt discussion, I submitted nine theses (of which one proved to be redundant, and so is omitted here):

1. Homosexual activity is a serious sin.
2. Homosexual sensibility and desire is not in itself sinful, though it is disordered.
3. Homosexual activity, like most other sins, can be practiced in well-intentioned ignorance.
4. Homosexuality can be wrongly, but well-intentionedly defended by Christians.
5. We do not contract the “infection” of a homosexual’s sin by fellowshipping with that person, or with an individual or a church who supports them.
6. We do not contract the “infection” of a homosexual’s sin by worshipping at a church supporting them, or even at which they are ministering.
7. The proper way to address homosexuality in the church is patient but firm church discipline, which may require excommunication of those practicing it or, possibly, those condoning it.
8. If the authorized leadership does not practice the discipline that they are obliged to practice, other believers do not receive the right to take disciplinary action into their own hands and unilaterally secede/declare other churches to be non-churches. They are required to rebuke in love, and pray and work for unity of mind and, if necessary, God’s judgment.

The discussion that ensued was excellent and edifying, and most present seemed willing to go most of the way in agreeing with these points. I did, however, receive an email afterward from one participant, registering some strong objections. I will probably post parts of my response to that email over the next couple days.

3 comments:

I came across your blog and found it interesting, although I find myself a bit turned off to the fact that you call homosexuality an "infection." I really don't think that's the way God-fearing Christians should think of it. The notion that homosexuality is a disease that must be cured has caused many boys and men to commit or attempt suicide when they attempt to "convert to heterosexuality" and find it too great a hurdle to overcome. The stress and sense of abandonment that comes from all their loved ones and the church telling them to work against their biological instinct is too much for some people and violates the principle Jesus taught us when he said, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." I can't think of anyone who would want to be abandoned by their family and their church, just to get a point across, thus a Christian should not ostracize someone for their sexual orientation. If homosexuality is indeed a sin, it is a victimless one, and one that should not affect our Christian love towards the individual. Only God knows the heart, and only God should be allowed to punish such a sin. At least that is my opinion. Please do not infer any hate from my comment, as it is not my intention. I simply have a theological disagreement with your position.

December 23, 2009 at 9:01 AM  

Hey Sam,
Thanks for the comment. You should have noticed, though, that I placed the word "infection" in quotation marks, meaning that this was how certain evangelicals would treat it, but that this was of course wrong.

So, I agree with what you're saying. :-)

December 23, 2009 at 4:36 PM  

Brad, old boy: I've read what you have to say about Catholicity, and I find it, like most (though not all) of your ideas, very well thought-out. I would like to ask a couple of questions, however, not on homosexuality specifically, but about a couple of underlying assumptions that I detect in your thoughts. First, in your conception of "Catholicity," how does one maintain a balance between communion within the Church Militant - between all the baptized alive today who profess and call themselves Christians - and the Church Historic? Where exactly does one draw the line between legitimate development of doctrine, and dangerous, possibly heretical innovations? Second, in your discussion, you refer to differences of opinion between different Christians - some who believe one way, some who have a "moral blind spot," others who have a different moral blind spot . . . with all due respect, I have to ask: is the Church the Body of Christ on Earth, our spiritual Mother, or is it an intellectual club for Christians, united around a love of scripture, the sacraments, and tradition, who are free to read the Bible and the Fathers and come to their own conclusions? Where exactly does authority come into the picture? It is one thing to be in communion with someone who is in grave, unrepented sin; but what happens when the teaching authority of the church itself condones - through silence, or even outright - such acts? First of all, I must point out that most of the faithful are not as thoughtful or as well-versed in scripture and tradition as you and your friends in Edinburgh - it is the responsibility of the Church to guide her children to our Heavenly Home, and for most people, this is done through clear and consistent teaching by the shepherds of the Church - we cannot all be theologians, much less priests. And furthermore, we both know that there is much more at stake here than personal moral issues - the sacraments themselves are at stake. The ordination of women and the issue of homosexual acts both encroach at the doors of two of the most fundamental and sacred matters in Christianity - marriage, and, yes, the Eucharist itself. Finally, as long as we are on the topic of Catholicity, what justification can you offer for the continuing breach of communion between the Protestant Churches and the Roman Catholic Church? Thank you, and, I hope to hear from you soon.

January 9, 2010 at 3:15 AM  

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