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The church and homosexuality [July 12, 2006 {0516}; An e-Review Florida UMNS Commentary by Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker]

The church and homosexuality [July 12, 2006 {0516}; An e-Review Florida UMNS Commentary by Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker]

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Other biblical writers also demonstrate a primitive and faulty understanding of the science of sexuality, e.g. the understanding that babies come from seeds planted by the male into the female womb. Actually the point of Romans 1 has nothing to do with moral instruction, but is setting the stage for the main point of Romans, that all humanity has sinned and come short of God's glory and that the source of humanity's salvation is God's grace in Christ. I am grateful that the Bishop ignored passages related to Sodom and Gomorrah, so often used to justify anti-homosexual views. As I am sure he is aware, most scholars, even many who agree with the Bishop's position, do not believe the sin of Sodom represents homosexual sin, but rather violence and inhospitality. The last point I want to make regards the Bishop's comments on there being no antecedent in scripture for a "new illumination" about homosexual practice as there is for the abolition of slavery. I do not find his argument here compelling. Nowhere that I know of does scripture call on the abolition of slavery as a societal institution. Quite the contrary, scriptures seem to accept the institution of slavery. The passage he sites, "there is no longer slave nor free, we are one in Christ," is certainly a statement of the escatological reality present in the church, and I for one agree with the Bishop that the trajectory of scriptures such as this, scriptures that break down barriers between the powerful and powerless, the privileged and the downtroden, should, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit lead us to new societal structures. But it seems to me that through a biblical hermeneutic of grace, compassion and justice this scriptural trajectory as it comes to us through new understandings of biology, psycology and social relations may just lead to a more grace-filled, compassionate and just approach to people in commited gay and lesbian relationships. By the way, I greatly appreciate John Wallis' comments above, from a pastoral perspective. My experience is that gay and lesbian parishioners are no different from heterosexual parishioners, most just doing their best to live as morally and as close to God as they can.

John Powers
First United Methodist Church of Oviedo

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