Taking a Stand on Shifting Ground: Day 21
‘In the cultural, political, religious, and academic arenas of our lives, issues related to homosexuality and homosexual persons are pervasive and hotly contested...Public and private policy debates rage about such issues as antidiscrimination laws regarding housing and employment; hate-crime legislation; statutes that redefine marriage and/or grant domestic partnership status to homosexual couples; educational and training programs that promote tolerance and diversity…The church…divides because of fierce disagreements about the status of homosexual Christians, their relationships, and their qualifications for ministry. One side appeals to explicit statements in Scripture regarding same-sex intercourse, the structures of God’s creation, principles of sexual holiness, two millennia of church tradition, the influence of environment on the development of homosexuality, the dearth of long-term and monogamous homosexual relationships, and the negative health effects of homosexual behavior. The other side points to genetic causation, the fruit of caring homosexual relationships, the antiquated worldview and obsolescence of other parts of Scripture, and such Christian virtues as tolerance and inclusion. In the academy today, speaking one’s mind is especially perilous for those who question the morality of same-sex intercourse. Opposing intolerance of the sexual practices of others functions as a badge of intellectual open-mindedness and membership among the avant-garde of cultured society—part of a cherished self-perception of being on the ‘cutting edge.’ There is an undeniable, built-in bias among many of the intellectual elite against advocates of traditional sexual values. Attitudes toward homosexuality cohere with this wider bias. It is into this context that I put forward my own best argument, well-aware of the risks.’ (Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice p. 26)
As the nineties became the new millennium, I heard wars and rumors of wars about ‘gay marriage’ in the USA. We fought hard for state constitutional amendments to keep marriage true to its essence--one man, one woman, joined in love for children. By 2003, the state of Massachusetts determined otherwise and for the rest of the decade we fought a good, losing battle. Similarly, our churches were becoming sickly merciful toward the ‘gay-identified’; increasingly, claims of transformation became suspect, even framed as abusive.
Thank God for Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice! It lit our way as we mobilized throughout the USA with the good news of human sexual dignity and Jesus’ insistence on redeeming our indignities. Hail humanity as male and female! In spite of our cracks, something truer and more authentic endures in our image-bearing. Robert Gagnon beefed up that truth boldly by writing the best book ever about homosexuality, and God’s will for our sexual humanity.
An Ivy-leagued New Testament scholar, Gagnon’s tome combines a one-two punch that floors me today, 20 years after its initial release.
First, his scholarship. Gagnon parses scriptures relevant to homosexuality with an unparalleled grasp of biblical languages and textual criticism; he augments his exegesis (interpretation of precise biblical texts) with ancient literature that informs thorny, obscure word meanings and applications. Secondly, his hermeneutics--taking the sum of his ace exegesis and interpreting it. He does this in two ways. He counters scholarly ‘pro-gay’ biblical arguments with logic like a laser. Then he applies his argument to key social scientific (sociology, psychology, politics), medical, educational, and ethical considerations surrounding homosexuality. He is fluent in all the above. Marvelous. Well-muscled, super-structured minds like Gagnon’s are a gift when inclined toward heaven.
He ventures like a ninja into the great cultural divide (see above quote) and blows up faulty bridges. He ploughs a deep, narrow way straight up the middle for Christians who love persons with same-sex desires but despise the socio-cultural-deception that seduces persons into ‘gay destiny.’ Especially those who invoke Jesus as their ‘rainbow’ champion. After Gagnon’s book, one may still prop up the ‘gay’ self but must surrender Scripture as a support.
A former Presbyterian seminary professor embroiled for decades in denominational battles over ‘gay’ everything, he lost favor as the rainbow gods overtook the PCUSA. Gagnon now teaches at a Baptist Seminary. I’ve witnessed this warrior getting trounced for decades by the intellectual elite who nevertheless cannot refute his book. It is just too good.
‘Gay’ is now but one of many LGBT+ destinies and ‘gay marriage’ destabilizes our national foundation. In growing darkness, The Bible and Homosexual Practice shines brighter than in 2001. Its ‘gold standard’ luster is richer and more relevant than ever before.
‘Thank You, Jesus, for Robert Gagnon. May we aspire to his dense and firm reasoning. May we grow in biblical fluency on sexuality as to apply it to our culture. May we aspire to greater fluency in understanding our culture as to extend the good news well. May love flare up on the sure ground of truth.’
‘Jesus, show us Your way through the uneven, deeply divided ground of our nation. Please compose and restrain explosive hearts. Use us as instruments of Your peace. “O blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Savior Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, we trust in You.”’