Friday, July 24, 2009

Zahl and the Promethean Overturning of History

This is one of the best explanations of the biblical (from an evangelical point of view) response to the current conflict rising around the question of the church's acceptance or rejection of homosexuality. The post is from InternetMonk, one of my go to blogs, and he quotes at length from a talk by Rev. Paul Zahl, and Episcopal minister. Here is a taste:

I shall begin this brief keynote address summing up the actual reasons why traditional Episcopalians are opposed to the consecration of Gene Robinson and are also opposed to the blessing in the church of same-sex unions. I won’t harp on this, but feel the reasons need to be acknowledged, publicly, and theologically. It is not fair to call people on the traditional side “homophobic”. Of course homophobia is possible, but it is also a terrible slur in the contemporary context. It is like the word “anti-semitic”. It halts all discourse. Full stop. And it destroys people and careers. Homophobia and anti-semitism are real things. But as words, they are used overmuch today to tar and dismiss voices that may in fact be sincere and liberal.
This is such an important point. It seems that on this topic, there is no room for reasonable disagreement. To do less than totally and unreservedly accept the position that homosexuality is normal and acceptable and healthy is "homophobic." The H word is the new N word.
The second “theological” argument traditionalists want to use is the hermeneutical one. I myself think this is second in importance to the theological “domino effect” I have just tried to spell out. The hermeneutical objection to the Robinson consecration is very important, but it is not decisive in quite the same way the argument from anthropology is. Nevertheless, we believe the plain and unexceptioned meaning of the Bible is against the practice of homosexuality in all cases. We cannot get around this. And I am grateful when folk on the other side acknowledge and do not try to weasel out of the “fact on the ground” of the Biblical voice against their idea. Yes, I realize there are wholly inclusive implications to Jesus’ and Paul’ s Gospel, but they stop at the Rubicon of homosexual practice.

I'll stop quoting here, but go and read it. It amazes me how the leadership of The Episcopal Church has set themselves so boldly in the role of teacher and scold, set to bring the rest of Christendom kicking and screaming along with it, for it's own good. The arrogance is breathtaking, all the while accusing the traditionalists (for lack of a better term) of being the arrogant ones. It all feels a little like That Hideous Strength.

While I have not really ever been in agreement with the basic arguments of the promoters of the homosexual agenda, I have often found myself sympathetic with their desire for inclusion, love, and acceptance. Every person wants these things. I can certainly appreciate what it feels like to feel locked out, excluded and disregarded and why it is important to help people so afflicted to find relief. For this reason I have had a hard time articulating how to reconcile the two sides in my own mind. These paragraphs have gone a long way toward at least helping me articulate my disagreement without resorting to ad hominem. I am not yet clear on how to solve the problem of exclusion in any complete and zpractical way, but I'm pretty sure that inclusion ought not be based on overturning what the church has always believed. As Zahl says, it feels promethean.

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