Saturday, July 10, 2010

Robert Cargill on Gay Marriage.

His post is worth a careful read. Mr. Cargill points to various systems of conduct derived from the scripture that we valued in the past (ie. slavery, prohibition against divorce, male teachers only) and reminds us all of the shame we feel now in having lived under some of them. Oughtn't we to be ashamed now of the way we are dealing with the homosexual issue?

The problem with Mr. Cargill's post is that it neglects to tell us precisely how we are to discern a culturally bound word in scripture from an eternal word. I finally fear that all of the scriptures he references were never meant to be taken as time-bound, but the type of word which Christ would honor with the promise: "These will never pass away."

The slavery passages he mentions, for instance, do not need to be "gotten over." Why? Because in absolutely none of them does the writer command or condone slavery. Rather, he is inculcating a right Christian attitude within the circumstance of slavery (ie. "love your enemies" which I doubt Mr. Cargill would call a cultural precept). I am also aware of a scripture where Paul outright says that if a slave can win his freedom, he should.

The passages on divorce are not time-bound but part of the great rock which is the Word of Christ, or his strange work of instructing us in Law. I fail to see why anyone should "get over" this ethic.... indeed my church hasn't. Divorce and remarriage is still normatively verboten.

Female preachers? No one needs to get over condemning this unless it can be proven that the Apostle was only addressing a particular situation (which is doubtful).

There is nothing to get over in opposing gay marriage. It is forbidden by scriptures and we all do well to stand by them (in God's radical mercy alone). Finally, the only true and lasting conduct that everyone should be ashamed of, that everyone must "get over" is scoffing at the words of Christ and rejecting them for the currency of our time-bound and manifestly foolish culture.


Theophilus said...

In addition, the argument in favour of allowing women to teach and preach can be made not by arguing that the prohibitions of such are time-bound, but that the Scriptures contain a contrary witness (Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos, the authority vested in the judge Deborah, Jesus' appointment of women to be the first preachers of the resurrection). In contrast, there is no such contrary witness in favour of same-sex marriage in scripture.

Emerson Fast said...


I'm not certain I would label your examples as "contrary" witnesses. Perhaps "corrective" witnesses would be more suitable. They stave off any possible excesses that could occur from reading the Pauline commandment alone.