Friday, February 5, 2010

Dear Anonymous


When I started this blog I decided that I would post any and all comments, whether they sided with me or not, as long as they were stated respectfully. Personal attacks, bad language or name-calling are not allowed, but pretty much anything else goes. I also decided that I would not reply to every comment that I received. I did not want to get caught up in a back-and-forth of endless argumentation that would consume my time and energy and deflect the planned trajectory of this blog. So when this post received my first negative comment, I posted it, but said nothing in reply. I would like to revisit it now. It may be a bit after the fact, but my anonymous commenter made some points that I feel I should have addressed. Let me quote the comment in full:

Anonymous said...

Yet, in our current society there is a "cultural conditioning" to view incest as unacceptable. Should we learn to understand this differently as well?

Concerning judging, there are numerous examples throughout Scripture showing God's clear judgment against homosexual *behavior* (while still loving of those with same-sex attraction difficulties). The ELCA, however, views its own politically-correct interpretations of Scripture as higher authority than the Scriptures themselves-and therein lies the problem.

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment. It is nice to know that someone is reading my work.

I think that you invoke a variation on the Slippery Slope argument. If we allow for gay marriage or homosexual clergy, what is to prevent us from approving of incest? (Some of the more histrionic versions of this argument suggest that the Churchwide Assembly Decisions will open the floodgates to pedophilia and bestiality). There is no reason to think that allowing for consensual same-sex relations will lead to any of these things.

I have actually encountered arguments favoring ethical, consensual incest. I disagree with them for three reasons. First, is the genetic danger of inbreeding. Second, and more important, is my experience working as chaplain to a home for troubled children. Many of the young people I met there had been sexually abused by members of their own families. While ethical, consensual incestuous relationships may exist in theory, in the real world I have only encountered examples of abusive, coercive incest. Third, an important function of marriage is establishing a legal family relationship for the purposes of inheritance, property rights, etc. In the case of blood relations, this already exists.

As for the “numerous examples” of God’s judgment on homosexual behavior in Scripture, there are, in fact, five passages that deal with the subject. I have treated all of them in various posts.

Finally, as regards the ELCA’s “politically-correct” interpretation of Scripture, I would point out that everyone who reads the Bible interprets it. Even the most abject literalism is a form of interpretation. What you call “the Scriptures themselves” is, in fact, your interpretation of the Scriptures. As I have tried to establish by blogging here, the ELCA reads Scripture according to sound Lutheran principles. Understanding the Bible as not only God’s word, but also the product of a particular culture and time, we are not bound to perpetuate homophobic interpretations today. Sometimes, dear Anonymous, political correctness is political, but sometimes it is correct.

God bless you,


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