Over on the House of Bishops/Deputies Listserv a contributor posted a note that I think well summarized the traditional position on sexuality. In it, he asserted that the Bible accords great and consistent significance to the fact that human beings are created male and female, and that this consistent scriptural testimony, as a “practical implication,” rules out the blessing of any other sexual relationship than that between a man and a woman in the context of lifelong, monogamous marriage.
I am grateful for this succinct summation of the core of the difficult disagreement in which we find ourselves. However, I do not see the disagreement in quite the polar form that some might assume. For instance, I concur that human beings are created and exist (the rare exceptions duly noted) in a basic gender polarity of male and female. This takes physical form as a biological dimorphism (less extreme in human beings than in some species, but nonetheless abundantly demonstrable). Finally, and most importantly, I agree that this is indeed significant. That is, it is capable of signifying to us something beyond a mere biological reality. This aspect of human life was seized upon quite naturally by Israel and the Church as a symbolic “map” for the relationship between themselves and God, and the Holy Scripture testifies to this symbolic significance. So far I dare say we are in complete agreement.
Where we begin sharply to diverge is in the next step, the “practical implication.” Here he asserts that this particular human relationship, attested to in Scripture, is somehow thereby possessed of a unique status that also renders any other relationship (however like it in depth of commitment, fidelity, and charity — but lacking the single element of sex-difference) utterly and completely inconceivable, and gravely defective morally.
My question is, How do we go from A to B? Because X is normative and allowed, must Y therefore be utterly condemned? How precisely does the use of heterosexual marriage as a “map” for the relationship between God and humanity (or a portion thereof) acquire a legal significance, as well as a poetic one?
My objections include the following:
So, all in all, I have to conclude that this syllogism from the tradition must be marked “not proven.”
Tobias S Haller BSG