A woman stood in her ramshackle hut polishing a brass lamp with a rag, working hard as she could to clean it to a brilliant shine. The only odd thing about this was that her house stood in the midst of ruins. An earthquake had shattered the street itself and brought down houses and shops on every side of her. That her little hovel had somehow stood was remarkable, but cleaning the brass missed the greater calamity.
This little parable comes to mind when I read this post by Ron Belgau.
I had an exchange not long ago with Dean Snyder seeking to understand how his arguments about gay marriage are materially different from the arguments of polygamists. We did not really come to a mutual understanding.
But today I am reminded by Belgau’s post that it is not wise to narrow our attention to only the most pressing issue of the day.
We should look around the neighborhood, as well. We should look because the advocates who shed tears and sometimes hurl names at the church have often correctly noticed that our denomination appears to have come to terms with all manner of heterosexual sexual behaviors that Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets did not appear all too happy about.
People who point out these inconsistencies, of course, rarely are advocating that we as a church go back and strive for biblical standards in these areas. The message is more often: “Hey, you are giving the fornicators an easy time. You don’t say much when a man divorces his wife and abandons his kids because he’s gotten tired of being married. Why not treat others the same way?”
For me, at least, this is an important question to deal with. I have more than once asked someone who is advocating for change in the United Methodist Church’s social principles and law to share with me their holistic theology regarding sex. Don’t tell me merely why you think this provision in the Book of Discipline is wrong. Help me understand how your theology speaks to our sex-crazed culture.
It is only fair, of course, to turn that question on myself. Does the status quo of United Methodist teaching on sexuality provide an orthodox and holistic theology about sex? Does it witness to the ills of our world with a gospel answer? Does it speak in a comprehensive way, or is it a divided witness that has already been compromised by accommodation to heterosexual practices that have no basis in Christian holiness? If our only interest was in heterosexual sexual behavior and attitudes, does the current official witness of the church reflect sound Christian theology?
What do you think?