indebted to Dr
Louis Crew and Dr Gordon Gritter for these thoughts.
Gritter has written an article called Why People Are Willing to Embrace Schism over Homosexuality
He poses the question:
Why is it that the trend toward inclusivity of gay people (a subject on which Jesus was resoundingly mute)
... has generated a response which seems to point towards schism, while the trend towards inclusivity of divorced people (a subject on which Jesus was quite eloquent) a number of years ago caused hardly a ripple in the Anglican world?
... when an issue generates as much heat as this one has we need to look below the 'content' to the underlying emotional dynamics. What might those be, I
that the issue of homosexuality is being debated essentially as a
theological matter, like divorce, about the sanctity of marriage, and about
sin. This is in his USA context. He suggests, however that,
homosexuality is a very different issue to divorce.
In many (not all) of the world's cultures it is a very deep taboo, it is perceived as a violation of fundamental male and female identity, it is unspeakably loathsome, "perverse", "unnatural", and deeply threatening to individuals and to organized society.
Consider, if you will, that the accurate analogy, in church history, is not to divorce but to circumcision. The people of the early church, steeped in Judaic purity laws, had a deep visceral understanding of the symbolism and effect of circumcision. It had been instituted by God to mark His people as having been made uniquely and pervasively clean, covenanted, acceptable, beloved. To them, uncircumcised people were filthy, disgusting, untouchable, a menace to the sanctity of God's people.
But when the Gospel was brought to the Gentiles there soon were uncircumcised believers. That, I suggest, precipitated a situation parallel to what we see today. Some insisted that circumcision was absolutely as necessary as it had always been. Others said that in the new community of believers circumcision was obsolete and irrelevant. Imagine the dilemma of those who may have been theologically persuaded that circumcision was no longer required, but who could not set aside their bone-marrow-deep reactions of revulsion and fear, and who now found themselves sharing the holy meal and receiving the sacraments from the hands of uncircumcised people!
In support of
this he also notes "that the scriptural citations most commonly chosen, both from Leviticus and St. Paul, convey strong feeling that homosexuality is evil and that homosexuals cannot possibly be clean, healthy, and holy people. At that point theology is really irrelevant - it's the 'gut feeling' that is overwhelming, and it sweeps aside any attempt to point out that those scriptures are addressed to situations other than human relationships in today's world."
What broke down the barriers of circumcision? I suspect that
theological argument had very little to do with it. The great cry to freedom
in places like Galatians inspire those who are free, and helps them bolster
their rationalisations. It does not so much bring a person to freedom
over revulsion. That is brought from experience... as when a
disgusting Samaritan saves your life, and all the prejudice about Samaritans
loses its power.
So I will challenge the selective biblicism of my EMU colleagues. I
will argue for freedom. I will confront the fear and prejudice that is
expressed. But most of all I must make a place for my gay friends in my
church. Their love to others, and their simple normality, will be the
Samaritan key to a new freedom.