Author Topic: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism  (Read 6510 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #60 on: September 30, 2010, 11:18:17 AM »

Page 11: The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage

"Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both."

Any sexual act can be understood in this context.  Is it unitive (selfish or giving), and is it procreative (open to and capable of creating life).

Although it never became an "official" statement, the draft in 1993: The Church and Human Sexuality: a Lutheran Perspective included three good purposes for human sexuality. I believe that this reflects the general understanding in the ELCA.

We confess that through the ages the Church too often has overlooked the created goodness of sexuality.

The Old Testament conveys this goodness in terms of procreation (conceiving children), companionship, and pleasure:

PROCREATION: In the creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:4a, human beings are created in the image of God. Male and female are blessed with responsibility for the rest of creation (1:26-27): "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it..." (1:28). This account's emphasis on procreation as the primary purpose of sexuality was especially crucial in an era when Israel's very survival was at stake.

COMPANIONSHIP: The creation story of Genesis 2:4b-25 complements the first account by emphasizing that human beings are created to be in relationships – with God, with one another, and with the rest of creation. The focus is on the mutual companionship between the man and the woman, who are different yet similar: "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh"(Gen. 2:23). This poetic song bursts forth as an expression of joy. Their intimate companionship is expressed in sexual union (2:24), a mutual self-giving of their entire being. Their naked bodies are good, not a reason for shame or fear (2:25).

PLEASURE: The passionate feelings of sexual love are celebrated even more provocatively in the love poetry of the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon). Here the woman's sexual yearnings as well as the man's are boldly and joyously expressed: "I sought him whom my soul loves...when I found him...I would not let him go"(3:1-4). Their attraction to one another can hardly be contained. The pleasure of mutual erotic love is strongly affirmed.

"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #61 on: September 30, 2010, 11:20:00 AM »
And the key is to move from the Tradition's proclamation of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride to an understanding of human marriage, rather than to extrapolate from notions of human marriage to fill out what we think it might mean for the Church to be Christ's Bride. This is analogous to not projecting human notions of fatherhood upon God the Father.

I seriously doubt that the image of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride has anything to do with sex. It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

kls

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #62 on: September 30, 2010, 11:24:55 AM »
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #63 on: September 30, 2010, 11:42:32 AM »
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

You may not be getting many takers because this topic has been discussed to death on ALPB.  Really.  To death.  I could link literally thousands of posts around "The Issue" (which is ultimately about scriptural interpretation, btw).

But to enter this discussion again, let's just look at one passage for now, Rom 1:26-27:

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας, αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

Here we note that vs. 26 speaks of women giving up of "natural relations" (τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν) for those "against nature" (εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν).  Though vs. 26 doesn't explicitly say this is women having relations with women, vs. 27 does make that clear with the particle ὁμοίως ("likewise") when it explicitly indicates that men engaged in relations with men.  Further, a judgment is given on these relations that are "against nature" -- such relations are "the shameless act" (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην) and "their error" (τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν) for which they receive a penalty in their own bodies.

Note that no mention of the quality of their relationship is in view.  Only the engaging in relations "against nature" is.  And those are described as the "shameless act."

Further note that it doesn't say "against their nature" as if such activity would be wrong only if they were truly heterosexual and then engaged in homosexual relations.  Rather, it simply calls them "against nature" in general.

For another interpretation of "natural" & "unnatural":

These quotes all come from an essay called "'The Disease of Effemination'; The Charge of Effeminacy and the Verdict of God (Romans 1:18-2:16)," by Diana M. Swancutt, Yale Divinity School, published in Semeia Studies No. 45: New Testament Masculinities.

To my knowledge, of the early interpreters of Romans, only Ambrosiaster explicitly identifies the sex partners of the women as other women. Clement of Alexandria's Paed. 2.10 is far more typical of patristic responses to 1:26. Displaying a total disinterest in the identity of the women's sex objects, Clement highlights the gender-transgressiveness and lustiness of women's sexual activity. He also lists several possible sex acts as "contrary to nature":

It is surely impious for the natural [kata physin] designs to be irrationally perverted into customs that are not natural [para physin].... desire can alter the character of somebody already formed.... the point of this parable concerning the excessive desire and sexual activity of the female hare is to advice abstinence from excessive desire, mutual intercourse  [epallelon synousion], relations with pregnant women, reversal of roles in intercourse [allelobasias], corruption of boys, adultery, and lewdness.

Clement assumes that women who indulged desire in excess would act para physin in various types of intercourse ranging from adultery and sex while pregnant to "mutual intercourse" and a "reversal of sexual roles." [FOOTNOTE 1 below] As John Boswell saw, Clement's emphasis on "mutual intercourse" and the "reversal of sex roles" reflects his discomfort with women who unnaturally assumed the masculine, penetrative role in sex, whether that penetration was of women or of men (Boswell: 358; contra Brooten: 331). The desire that caused gender-transgression could, as Clement notes, alter the character of women. Hence, Clement sought to emphasize that women like those in Rom 1:26 who engaged in unnatural sex both "harm[ed] themselves" and upset the "design of nature." [FOOTNOTE 2 below] pp. 208-210

[1] See also Augustine (Nupt. 20.35), who interprets 1:26 as referring to nonprocreative intercourse between women and men (Brooten: 353).

[2] It is the treatment of para physin in passages such as Paed. 2.10 that finally convinces me that Brooten is incorrect in identifying Rom 1:26 as a reference to female homosexual sex. Her main argument, that "ancient sources depict sexual relations between women as unnatural" (250), works only if ancient sources only depicted sexual relations between women as unnatural. But the bottom line is that they do not (and when they do discuss same-sex intercourse, it is the psychic and/or physical manliness of one of the women that is deemed unnatural). Brooten does not discuss Clement's list at any length. She dismisses the relevance of Philo, who clearly says that sex with menstruants and nonprocreative sex are unnatural (248-52). She also fails to discuss Roman Stoic depictions of sex para physin (251 nn. 101, 103), which, like Clement, circumscribe natural sex to desire-free procreativity. If, as Clement did, we account for the standards of Stoics such as Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Seneca, the Romans could have treated as unnatural any unmarried, nonprocreative sex -- including women pursuing another woman's husband, women penetrating boys, men, girls or women, and the forms of "unnatural sex" Brooten lists and dismisses. Give that homoios does not specify the identity of the sex objects in 1:26, that ancients describe a variety of forms of sex involving women as unnatural, and that only one early patristic interpreter of Romans explicitly identified female same-sex intercourse as the subject of 1:26, naming the sex objects of the women in Rom 1:26 is probably a fruitless (and for Paul, at least, an unnecessary) exercise.)


If she is correct that most of the earliest commentators on these verses did not understand "unnatural" to refer to female, same-sex behaviors why should we? Could it be that what is natural/unnatural is defined by culture?
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #64 on: September 30, 2010, 11:43:31 AM »
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

George Erdner

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #65 on: September 30, 2010, 11:57:47 AM »
And the key is to move from the Tradition's proclamation of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride to an understanding of human marriage, rather than to extrapolate from notions of human marriage to fill out what we think it might mean for the Church to be Christ's Bride. This is analogous to not projecting human notions of fatherhood upon God the Father.

I seriously doubt that the image of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride has anything to do with sex. It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Which only proves that metaphors are never exact matches for the thing which they attempt to describe. The fact that the metaphor of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride doesn't refer to sexual intercourse does not prove that heterosexual intercourse isn't part of marriage. It only proves that the metaphor can't be stretched beyond what it meant to include other things not intended as part of the metaphor.

kls

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #66 on: September 30, 2010, 12:14:11 PM »
The church is a female?
Congratulations, Brian . . . you have proven my need to start a separate thread for those who wish to delve so deeply into matters of sexuality given your last post . . . because talking penetration, etc., is so helpful to ongoing conversation.  It simply drives some people away from even having the discussion.  Call me prude, but I'm exiting, have fun with the thread the rest of you.   :D

And by the way, I'm not a pastor and don't pretend to be (or want to be one for that matter), so I wasn't required to take Greek at the Sem.  The best I can do without having access to my Logos software at the moment is to provide a link to an online interlinear Bible.  Looks pretty clear to me that bride refers to wife/woman in Rev. 21:9.  But I'm no Greek expert . . .

My church body recognizes that the Bride of Christ refers to the feminine form.  I praise God He brought me over to it!

James Gustafson

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #67 on: September 30, 2010, 12:21:04 PM »
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?

When spoken of as the Bride of Christ, she certainly seems to be according to Scripture.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

Emphases mine.

Mike

She (the Church) most certainly is female and a wife.  Perhaps Pr. Stoffregen knows this, perhaps he's forgotten it, perhaps he simply doesn't like it, who knows why, too many possible reasons to start guessing why Pr. Stoffregen or anyone else would have a problem being associated with being a female bride.  It's not like it's embarrassing or shameful to be a female and a bride.

David M. Frye, OblSB

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #68 on: September 30, 2010, 01:03:36 PM »
The relationship of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride has to do with marriage. In fact it is a marriage, the Marriage. Our marriages, when they resonate with the Marriage, point to it and prepare us to live in it. I'm a little hesitant to say that this is merely metaphorical, because then I'm fearful of treading on the slope where "is" becomes equivalent to "signifies" but not "equals." This becomes dangerous when we turn, for example, to look at what Christ means by "this is my body."

I'm indebted to my seminary advisor, Dr. Robert Jenson, for teaching me the insight that we cannot project or extrapolate from our human experience to the divine reality. Thus, God our Father is not like our fathers, only moreso. This kind of extrapolation seems benign when we have good fathers, but it is the move that some make when they say, "I knew my father to be abusive, therefore I cannot accept that God is our Father, because that makes him [well, probably, they would say "that makes God" and would avoid the pronoun] omnipotently abusive."

Having said all that, I would agree that metaphors can be stretched too far. I'd disagree on whether Groom–Bride talk is metaphorical. After, "the two shall become one flesh." This is true for the man and the woman here and now because it shall be true of the Groom and the Bride in heaven.

And the key is to move from the Tradition's proclamation of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride to an understanding of human marriage, rather than to extrapolate from notions of human marriage to fill out what we think it might mean for the Church to be Christ's Bride. This is analogous to not projecting human notions of fatherhood upon God the Father.

I seriously doubt that the image of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride has anything to do with sex. It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Which only proves that metaphors are never exact matches for the thing which they attempt to describe. The fact that the metaphor of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride doesn't refer to sexual intercourse does not prove that heterosexual intercourse isn't part of marriage. It only proves that the metaphor can't be stretched beyond what it meant to include other things not intended as part of the metaphor.

David M. Frye, OblSB

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totaliter vivens

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #69 on: September 30, 2010, 01:29:18 PM »
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?

When spoken of as the Bride of Christ, she certainly seems to be according to Scripture.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

Emphases mine.

Mike

She (the Church) most certainly is female and a wife.  Perhaps Pr. Stoffregen knows this, perhaps he's forgotten it, perhaps he simply doesn't like it, who knows why, too many possible reasons to start guessing why Pr. Stoffregen or anyone else would have a problem being associated with being a female bride.  It's not like it's embarrassing or shameful to be a female and a bride.

I'm searching for a charitable adjective to use for this...

SPS

George Erdner

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #70 on: September 30, 2010, 01:39:38 PM »
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?

When spoken of as the Bride of Christ, she certainly seems to be according to Scripture.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

Emphases mine.

Mike

She (the Church) most certainly is female and a wife.  Perhaps Pr. Stoffregen knows this, perhaps he's forgotten it, perhaps he simply doesn't like it, who knows why, too many possible reasons to start guessing why Pr. Stoffregen or anyone else would have a problem being associated with being a female bride.  It's not like it's embarrassing or shameful to be a female and a bride.

I'm searching for a charitable adjective to use for this...

SPS


I can think of several:

actual
appropriate
dead on
factual
faithful
faultless
flawless
for sure
free of error
impeccable
legitimate
on target
on the button
on the money
on the nose
on track
perfect
precise
proper
right
right on
righteous
true
unmistaken
veracious

Actually, I looked them up. But I stand behind them are perfectly appropriate. 

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #71 on: September 30, 2010, 01:43:28 PM »

Although it never became an "official" statement, the draft in 1993: The Church and Human Sexuality: a Lutheran Perspective included three good purposes for human sexuality. I believe that this reflects the general understanding in the ELCA.


Ah, yes.  This would be a proposal that was so thoroughly rejected that the Task Force who offered it was effectively replaced by a different group who produced a completely rewritten second draft, which was itself quietly buried a year or so later.  

Yeah, that's a excellent source to describe our general understanding...    ::)

kyrie eleison, spt+
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totaliter vivens

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #72 on: September 30, 2010, 01:45:59 PM »
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?

When spoken of as the Bride of Christ, she certainly seems to be according to Scripture.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

Emphases mine.

Mike

She (the Church) most certainly is female and a wife.  Perhaps Pr. Stoffregen knows this, perhaps he's forgotten it, perhaps he simply doesn't like it, who knows why, too many possible reasons to start guessing why Pr. Stoffregen or anyone else would have a problem being associated with being a female bride.  It's not like it's embarrassing or shameful to be a female and a bride.

I'm searching for a charitable adjective to use for this...

SPS


I can think of several:

actual
appropriate
dead on
factual
faithful
faultless
flawless
for sure
free of error
impeccable
legitimate
on target
on the button
on the money
on the nose
on track
perfect
precise
proper
right
right on
righteous
true
unmistaken
veracious

Actually, I looked them up. But I stand behind them are perfectly appropriate.  


Hmmmm, George, "The Church is female" would not have led me to the adjective "factual." I'm not sure I understand how the communion of all believers throughout time and space can have a gender in any way other than the metaphorical. Ah well, another irreformable truth for me to accept, I guess.

On a more serious note, IMHO, James has been making some exceptionally broad theological assertions. I would appreciate a little reality check with others of you speaking for the traditional position. Is James accurately presenting your views (which might be inferred from the silence), or is this hyperbole, or (fill in the blank)?


SPS
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 01:52:40 PM by totaliter vivens »

George Erdner

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #73 on: September 30, 2010, 01:54:16 PM »
Hmmmm, George, "The Church is female" would not have led me to the adjective "factual." I'm not sure I understand how the communion of all believers throughout time and space can have a gender in any way other than the metaphorical. Ah well, another irreformable truth for me to accept, I guess.

SPS


I'm not saying that it isn't metaphorical, only that the metaphor of the Church being female and a wife and Jesus as male is accurate and factual insofar as only marriages between a man and a woman are real, bona-fide marriages.

totaliter vivens

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #74 on: September 30, 2010, 01:57:38 PM »

So reason is magisterial over the Word of God?

Do you deny Ephesians 5:25-27?

Mike

Regarding Ephesians... Deny what? That it establishes the tenor of the relationship between married Christians? Certainly not.

That it establishes the Church as a female entity? Certainly.

Would you like to play this game with Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34?

SPS
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 02:06:15 PM by totaliter vivens »