Saturday, July 08, 2006

Read This!

I just read this post by Troy; a very thoughtful encounter with homosexuality as a moral and spiritual issue, as well as a loose interaction with my The Culture War and Homosexuality: A Different Sort of Quagmire.

While we both treat homosexuality as a moral issue (for the most part) in our posts, I think, based on his treatment of homosexuality in the above-linked post, that Troy agrees with me that homosexuality is, like most issues, principally a pastoral issue. What I mean by that is that the principal question which Christians should ask concerning homosexuality has less to do with a sort of thumbs-up or thumbs-down morality, and more to do with how the church should treat the spiritual needs of homosexual persons.

This is the same concern, in fact, which we ought to bring to every issue, as best as I can tell. And, while exploring the morality of acts and issues may inform our pastoral strategy, we should be reminded as we wax poetic and abstract on moral issues that we reflect on morality not as an end in itself but rather as a means to another end, a pastoral end.

Do yourself a favor and check out Troy's post, and if you feel bold, leave a comment. He's done us a real service in thoughtfully pushing the discussion on homosexuality and its relation to the Christian life.

6 comments:

Troy said...

Sandalstraps,

you are too kind. You sum the issue up best here (in fact, I wish this post was my own conclusion): it's a pastoral issue, and the central concern is how to care for the spiritual and emotional needs of homosexuals rather than beating them over the head with the Law.

Feed my sheep.

Thanks for directing people to my site. It's a deep honor coming from you. I do get discouraged with my low comment count sometimes, but I think I've distanced my original blog family (though not from loving me personally, I know) by drifting into esoteric areas, writing in journal format where I provide no links or definitions, and perhaps by holding a low view of scripture (and writing about it often).

You are a true blog-friend. If the idea ever strikes us, and we have something specific to say, we could write a book together. I think we'd gel. Except for my California-isms like 'gel.'

Peace and love.

t

Sandalstraps said...

Troy,

There's an idea! I'd love to write a book with you. I'm not sure how to work out the details, but they're just details. Let's think about that.

And I didn't know that "gel" was a California-ism. Our lexicon is forever in that state's debt!

Troy said...

I guess it depends on how one uses gel. Probably I suffer from Calforniacentrism...the fallacious belief that all originates in the Golden State.

I've never written a book either. I have several good friends who have, but they do poetry, or fiction, or creative essays, or textbooks for English classes. I don't even know what I want to write about, but the idea occurred and I'm glad I brought it up.

For me, now, the question of our age is scripture itself. Perhaps this has been answered and I don't know it, but when I see 'faith statements' from Campus Crusade (linked from tektonics) or the churches I used to attend: all the innerrancy, infallibility, it troubles me as deeply naive, close to a kind of blind idolatry. I need more time, maybe years, to think about the issue, but for myself I want to know how to understand, read, use the books of the bible. Apparently Wright has something new out on authority, but I haven't bought it yet.

And I ran across a copy of Kung's On Being a Christian and now have it at home. I'll get to it.

All the best, friend. I'm willing to keep the book-idea on some kind of mental burner. I think you're very bright, articulate, and quite compassionate. I wish I had the connections with Christian publishers just to send you their way, but I don't.

Be well Chris, and thanks again for the plug.

Mercy over sacrifice.

t

Sandalstraps said...

I'm not ready to write a book yet. I've been working on a few ideas, but I'm not yet where I want to be to fully develop them.

I think that you're right that scripture is a mojor issue, and I've thought about writing a book on reading the Bible. While I've read some pretty good serious theology which doesn't bring faulty assumptions and weighty claims to the Biblical text, I haven't read anything written for lay people that doesn't assume things that I'm not willing to assume.

Campus Crusade for Christ and other mission agencies have done a great job sommunicating their vision of "Biblical Christianity" in a way that anyone can understand it. There is a need for a more "liberal," "progressive," or, perhaps "senisible" answer. But, is there a market for such a thing? I don't know.

Spong has written a few books which treat scripture in a way that almost anyone can understand it, but his theology is such that he has a hard time getting heard by anyone I know who wants to study the Bible. Perhaps we need a more orthodox Christian to try to write about scripture in a way that contradicts the fundamentalist vision while still being accessible.

But I'm not yet ready to be that person. I have so much yet to learn, and hopefully I'll have less time to learn in soon. I've applied for a very promising job that I can see myself doing for quite some time, if it works out. I'll post on it when I have a better idea of whether or not I will get the job.

Troy said...

Chris,

I'm with you. I need time before I sit down and begin typing anything. And I agree: what I would like to read is a non-fundmanentalist approach to the bible which retains most of orthodox Christianity.

Good luck with the new job man. You surely need to focus there now.

t

Troy said...

Chris,

and one other thing:

I don't mean to be critical of Crusade or the Christians in Crusade. It sounds dopey to say it, but many of my close friends read the Bible as fundamentalists. In EFM, two of my favorite people read it that way (the rest of us vary, with one man I know to be a believer sure of only one thing: the resurrection itself).

The reasons people hold to innerrancy are many, and bigotry or lack of intelligence is rarely part of it. It's a tradition of black-or white thinking: if we call any part of the Bible into question, what the heck can we know about it? What is true?

That is the great question. Textual criticism attempts to answer it. All the more reason I'd like to find a book, besides Lewis' Reflections on the Pslams which disusses Scripture in terms of textual criticism, not the wholesale and perfect dication of a single divine mind (or, the divinely-made perfect product of human minds, but full of information which some of the writers could not know, as in creation; information which had to be divinely revealed/dictatated).

My passion for the issue is only less than my passion when I was an inerrantist, Calvinist-type myself. I keep hearing inerrancy is an 'American protestsant' issue, and I don't know. I agree that historically the church has held these books to be authoritative in many ways, but again, I don't know the history of the doctrines of scripture, though I'd like to.

At least I'm an Episcopalian, and can hold the views I do.

Best, friend, and good luck with the job. I just wanted to round out my last post.

t