Friday, July 2, 2010

Second Post Hui Thoughts

For me, from the Hui, thanks to the thinking of others, especially some excellent theologians in my small group, these three (sets of) questions are topmost in my mind the day after the Hui:

(1) Are we in a 'new situation' today where stable, faithful, permanent, covenanted same sex partnerships, including those socially ordered via state civil law, constitute an expression of sexuality both unknown and not addressed by the New Testament (and the Old Testament viewed through a christological lens)?

(2) Are we stuck in a polarised debate which serves no useful purpose because if one side were to win the debate it would not change the presence of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church, and if the other side were to win the debate it would not change the presence of conservative Christians in the church (and in surrounding churches)? Can we move beyond this unresolved if not unresolvable debate by a re-envisioning of the situation, for example, by beginning a conversation about a theology of friendship which offers a Scripturally framed account of same gender relationships?

(3) Can we be honest to ourselves as a whole church and acknowledge that on matters such as usury and remarriage of divorcees we have faced Scripture, which on a plain reading bans usury and permits remarriage of divorcees under the narrowest of extenuating circumstances, we have gone 'beyond' Scripture to find a way forward which embraces social reality and expresses grace and compassion? If we were agreeable about what we have done on these matters, could we then find a way forward together (for that by and large is what we have achieved on usury and remarriage) on homosexuality? [For the record, my immediate thoughts on this question are that this set of questions does not necessarily lead to a quick and satisfactory answer because there are plenty of nuances to consider, including the fact that embracing usury has in times and places contributed to human misery, and the church generally has not changed its mind that divorce is not something to celebrate ...]

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