Jerry Walls has a new post up on Houston Baptist University’s Christian Thought blog called Homosexual Behavior and Fornication: Intimate Bedfellows. Here is the heart of his argument:
Christians have no chance whatever of challenging homosexual behavior with integrity unless they start with the sexual sins of heterosexuals. We cannot take a morally credible stand against the sexual sins of the small minority of the population if we condone the sexual sins favored by over 90% percent of the population. If fornication is okay, if casual divorce is no big deal, then it rings utterly hollow to try to take a loud (or even a quiet) stand on homosexual behavior.
Of course, challenging heterosexual sin is no simple matter in contemporary culture. For the fact of the matter is that the non-marital sexual practices of many persons, including Christians, flow quite naturally out of the worldview in which they have been steeped (unfortunately many Christians are shaped more by pop culture than they are by Scripture). To have any realistic chance of countering this will require a serious recovery of the Christian view of sexuality, which requires even more fundamentally a substantive Christian view of human persons and their place in the great drama of creation and redemption. In short, that will require that we persuasively teach Christian morality as an integral component of the entire Christian vision of reality. And we must convey the beauty and goodness of this vision, and how it conduces to human flourishing, as vigorously as we argue for its truth. But nothing short of that has any real hope of bringing genuine renewal in the realm of sexual morality.
I will note that, based on comments on previous posts, I expect some readers to say that Christians don’t say fornication, divorce, etc. are ok. It is true that you do not have sermons or homilies that explicitly say, “premarital sex is ok.” But as Walls argues, premarital sex is widely practiced among Christians. Pastors know this, but only a few say anything about it. This communicates a tacit aceptance. Remarriage after divorce is explicitly allowed in most Protestant churches. And when the Catholic Bishops address divorce, their only concern is communicating pastoral welcome to those who have been divorced, and recommending annulment to those who wish to remarry in the Church. There is an extraordinary difference between this tepid response and their much more outspoken response to same-sex marriage.
Does this mean I think Christians shouldn’t say anything about homosexual acts being a sin? Obviously not. I’ve been doing that publicly for over a decade. But one of the biggest obstacles I have faced in trying to convince gay and lesbian persons to follow the Bible and the teaching of the Catholic Church on this has been the fact that I am obviously demanding more of them than their pastors demand of their straight friends and relations.
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Ron, I absolutely agree with you. In the Catholic church, we’re at least consistent on paper – no divorce and remarriage, no contraception – but most parishes don’t treat those things seriously (although slowly and surely, I think that’s starting to change).
Where was the DOMA against no-fault divorce? Where was the DOMA against contraception?
In fact, sometimes I think we should just regroup and start moving state by state, as we’ve done with abortion, and fighting to restore divorce laws the way they used to be. Essentially, marriage has become an unenforceable contract.
Certainly, we should still be against recognizing homosexual partnerships as marriage, but personally I think it might be better to keep that at the preaching level and focus our legal efforts on divorce laws.
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