Option 4. Variation in God’s Design for Creation: “Welcoming and Celebrating!”
The union of a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage constitutes the normative purpose of God for humanity in the goodness of creation. The goal in the relationship of male and female is the intensifying oneness of marriage. Children are the special gift (the promise of blessing) in this complementary relationship.
Celibacy, the choice of life-long singleness apart from marriage, is an authentic human variation in the human calling, but celibacy is not normative in the male and female relationships. It is not a choice in opposition to the calling of marriage, but it is a choice of variation in response to marriage: Celibacy is a gift, but not a gift for everyone. The celibate person does not experience the union of male with female, of the female with the male, essential to the continuation of creation, nor does the celibate person experience the blessing of children. These gifts are not incidental to humanity’s calling; nevertheless, these gifts are not gifts for everyone. A person’s positive response to the call of celibacy as the distinct gift of God is a variation in authentic humanness; celibacy does not require the repudiation of the covenant of marriage between man and woman and the promise of children through the marriage.
Like celibacy, homosexuality is a variation in creation that does not diminish the authenticity of a person’s humanness. Unlike celibacy, neither heterosexuality nor homosexuality entails a choice: It is a genetic (and early environmental) given. Like the heterosexual orientation of life, the homosexual way of being human is the gift of God to be celebrated: It is not the disorder of human fallenness. Homosexuality…the homosexual orientation precisely in its variation…belongs to God’s declaration of the goodness of creation. [Otherwise, God has created that which is not good, or the Creator has distorted creation itself into that which is less than good.]
The error in the literal interpretation of the biblical traditions concerning homoerotic relationships roots in the inability of these ancient traditions to recognize that such relationships can be natural, i.e., ‘according to creation.’ This is the new insight in contemporary experience that requires review and revision of the church’s historic teaching on homosexual life and same-sex relationships. (For a homosexual person to engage in heterosexual erotic relationships is unnatural [as the failed heterosexual marriage of a homosexual person in a heterosexual marriage has often demonstrated].)
The prohibition of any possibility of human sexual fulfillment to a homosexual person is far more than the regulation of sexual behavior in the context of the norm of marriage between male and female. It is nothing less than the repudiation of his or her personal identity, of which sexuality is only a part (a decisive part nonetheless). Contrary to the trajectory of the traditions in the Old and New Testaments, the gospel of Christ is life-giving and person-affirming. Today the gospel requires the church to read the Scriptures from a different angle to discern the Jesus way in a critical reformation of church tradition on the covenantal homosexual relationships: The gospel norm of interpersonal sexual relationships is “covenantal fidelity.”
The summons to the heterosexual Christian and the homosexual Christian is chastity in singleness and fidelity in covenantal union. Covenantal Christian union includes monogamy, unity, and permanence…whether heterosexual or homosexual. Same-sex union does not abrogate the importance of heterosexual marriage, because only the oneness that occurs in the union of male and female transcends the otherness of male and female, female and male. Nevertheless, a homosexual union is more than “alikeness,” of like with like, because a gay or lesbian covenant involves two different persons who remain “other” to each other. The relational difficulties in heterosexual and homosexual covenantal commitments are quite comparable.
Similar to the proponents of Option 3, advocates of Option 4 affirm: “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). However, the Christian community today recognizes what Paul apparently did not and could not recognize: Oneness in Christ ultimately destroyed the structural diversity between “slave and free.” Through discipleship in Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the concrete division of slave and free was not a structure transformed into oneness in Christ but a social construct that oneness in Christ entirely destroyed. A Christian cannot love his brother who is also his “property.” The Gospel of Christ destroyed the institution of slavery, a consensus not established through Bible study and discussion but through the bloody violence of the Civil War. Baptist biblical interpretation followed the “change in understanding” about the evil of slavery won on the battlefields of the Civil War that set brother against brother. Can the Scriptures of the New Testament move the Christian community beyond established social structures through the dynamic experience of the freedom of the Spirit of Christ? Ephesians provides positive direction. Paul said:
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and who has broken down the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances that he might create in himself one new person in the place of two, so making peace; that he might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing hostility to an end. (Ephesians 2:13-16).
Proponents of Option 4 finally ground their viewpoint in the reconciling work of the crucified Christ who has broken down all the walls of hostility…all the walls of custom and tradition that separate and divide us…for us to work with God to establish the grace of “peace.”
NOTE: each of the four options posted are attempts to artuclate the perspectives on thier own terms and do not represent any particular individual’s view. Details can be found here.