Thursday, October 27, 2016

Apologist for evil

I'm going to comment on this:

I'm primarily commenting on the article. Sometimes I supplement the article by listening to his lecture (available on YouTube).  

It was through relatives, students and former students who were gay, as well as people in committed, same-sex relationships, that Wolterstorff was drawn to more closely consider the traditional views he’d grown up believing.

i) That's such a cliche. 

ii) "Committed, sex-same relationships". Even many homosexuals admit that they are wildly promiscuous. 

iii) Naturally, the way they present themselves in public often puts the best face on homosexuality. It's gullible to presume that's representative of what happens behind closed doors. Not only rampant promiscuity but the high incidence of domestic abuse.

To take a comparison, consider straight couples whose marriage is on the rocks, yet they appear to be the happy married couple in social settings. No one suspects that they are on the verge of divorce. 

iv) However, that's really beside the point. Even if they were committed to each other, that's an immoral commitment. Take a committed incestuous couple, or a committed adulterous couple. From what I can tell, Eva Braun was deeply committed to the Führer. Members of the Mafia may be deeply committed to each other. Absolute family loyalty. A committed relationship is morally neutral. It can be virtuous or vicious, depending on the nature of the commitment. 

I’ve listened to these people. To their agony. To their feelings of exclusion and oppression. To their longings. To their expressions of love. To their commitments. To their faith. So listening has changed me.

i) "Feelings" of exclusion and oppression. Not reality, but "feelings".

ii) Moreover, this completely overlooks how empowering homosexuals leads to the oppression and exclusion of normal people. Indoctrinating school kids. Teachers and administrators who bully normal kids to affirm perversion. It overlooks how homosexuals exploit and oppress other homosexuals. 

iii) Not doubt homosexuals generally have the same emotional needs as everyone else. But that isn't satisfied by a drastic deviation from the natural sources in which we were made to find emotional fulfillment. 

iv) I say "generally," because homosexuals can become extremely hardened and sadistic or masochistic. 

He first established the commonplace view that sexuality is a continuum, and people may fall anywhere between homosexual and heterosexual in their sexual orientation. 

That's very misleading.

i) To begin with, it might be taken to imply that sexuality is essentially fluid. There is no normal, much less normative, frame of reference. 

ii) In addition, although there's a "continuum" of sorts from homosexuality through bisexuality to heterosexuality, the general public is overwhelmingly heterosexual. Even the politically correct CDC acknowledges that fact. The homosexual and bisexual part of the "continuum" represents the fringe end of the spectrum. 

He says homosexual "orientation" isn't chosen. That's simplistic. Even if the inclination is involuntary, the deveopment can be an acquired taste, Or an appetite that can become addictive and insatiable. For instance, some people don't choose to enjoy alcohol. They just do. For other people, it's an acquired taste. And for some people, it becomes addictive. 

He says there's no therapy. Of course, that piggybacks on his assumption that it's not chosen. Indeed, it's a "creational variance". So his conclusion is no better than the underlying assumptions. 

He cited the Classis Grand Rapids East study report on “Biblical and Theological Support Currently Offered by Christian Proponents of Same-Sex Marriage,” in which a non-heterosexual identity on the sexuality continuum is considered a creational variance, an aspect of one’s nature.

The CRC has been on the skids for decades. Wolterstorff is building on a false premise. An illicit argument from authority. 

Almost everybody agrees that no one is to be blamed for being on the homosexual end of that continuum. 

Well, that says a lot about the social circles in which he moves. Like the quip attributed to Pauline Kael: "I can't believe Nixon won! I don't know anyone who voted for him."

Homosexual attraction is blameworthy. That doesn't mean it's ipso facto damnable. But Wolterstorff is talking about proudly, defiantly impenitent sinners. Sinners who flaunt their sin. Who call evil good. 

For the homosexual person it matters a great deal — a very great deal — whether you say to him or her that their orientation is a disorder, a mark of the fallenness of creation, or whether you say that their location on that spectrum is a creational variance, like any other location on that spectrum.

You could say the same thing about a pedophile or psychopath. 

This stance veers away from the 1973 report of Synod on homosexuality, which defines same-sex orientation as a disorder.

Should have stuck with that. 

Wolterstorff then observed that a same-sex orientation does not break the love command, thus is not morally blameable. 

Does a consensual incestuous relationship between a mother and her teenage son, or father and his teenage daughter break the love command? Even if there's genuine affection, the fact (if it is a fact) that it's loving doesn't make it virtuous. People can be in love with evil. That takes many forms. 

Having established that same-sex orientation is neither a disorder nor morally blameable, he asked, “If accordingly members of the church are to accept such people as they are, then why is it wrong for people with that orientation to act on their desires?

There's a certain logic to that conclusion. But it's predicated on a false premise.

Wolterstorff minimizes the Biblical condemnation by commenting how rarely it's discussed. One problem that overlooks is how something is rarely discussed because it's rightness or wrongness is taken for granted. How often does Scripture forbid matricide or patricide? 

Likewise, the issue arises in occasional documents. Most of the time it isn't necessary to discuss it because there's a standing presumption against it. 

But what does Scripture say? Wolterstorff briefly examined each of the seven Biblical passages which concern homosexual activity. He stressed above all that these passages should be interpreted in context.
He quickly dismissed passages in Genesis 19 and Judges 19, which are about gang rape and, he argued, therefore irrelevant to a discussion of committed, covenantal same-sex relationships. 

i) Those aren't the first passages I'd turn to. However, they're not just about gay rape, but homosexual attraction. The original audience is supposed to be horrified by their homosexual attraction. To find that unnatural and repellent. In Scripture, homosexual activity is a hallmark of pagan immorality.  

ii) In addition, Wolterstorff skips over the paradigmatic case of Gen 1-2, which establishes the heteronormative standard of comparison. 

iii) "covenantal same-sex relationships" is a euphemism for covenantal anal sex, covenantal fisting, covenantal rimming, covenantal scat, covenantal golden showers.  

He similarly put aside Leviticus 18 and 20, where the holiness code has been cherry-picked and it would be “unfair to universalize that condemnation while ignoring everything else that’s forbidden.

i) That's contemptibly superficial. The relationship between Christian theology and OT theology is complex. At one heretical extreme is Marcion. That's the backstop against which orthodox alternatives operate. Any orthodox view of the relationship between Christian theology and the OT will acknowledge both continuity and discontinuity. Different theological traditions parse that differently. But it's not "cherry-picking". Much painstaking theological analysis goes into considering how the OT is fulfilled in the NT. 

And not just broad-based theological traditions. We also have closely-reasoned monographs on OT ethics by meticulous Christian scholars like Gordon Wenham, Richard Bauckham, James Hoffmeier, and Christopher Wright. Not to mention the definitive studies by Robert Gagnon. 

ii) The Mosaic code contains different kinds of laws. Some laws concern ritual purity. Those are somewhat artificial. They aren't grounded in nature. Rather, they're concerned with symbolic holiness. And from a NT standpoint, they've been superseded. 

You also have some laws that are tied to the socioeconomic structures of ancient Israel. An agrarian economy. Common property belonging to one's clan.

But you also have laws regarding social duties and social offenses that are grounded in our God-given nature. Does Wolterstorff really think it's just "cherry-picking" to treat murder as a different kind of law than the cultic sanctity of tabernacle furniture?

iii) Furthermore, Wolterstorff is the one who's guilty of artificially isolating the Levitical prohibitions from Biblical anthropology in general. These aren't atomistic data-points. Rather, there's a continuity of witness throughout the OT and the NT. 

iv) Finally, Judaism is not a dead religion. There are Orthodox Jews who take the kosher laws and other purity codes quite seriously. If it was politically feasible, they'd rebuild the temple and restore animal sacrifice. Now, I think that's defunct, but my point is that Wolterstorff's dismissive treatment acts as though the Mosaic code is obviously passé. Yet there are modern-day Jews who don't relegate that to the past. If Wolterstorff was speaking in an Orthodox synagogue, instead of playing to a sympathetic audience, would he be so flippant and cavalier? 

Wolterstorff quoted Levitical prohibitions about "uncovering nakedness" as if that's obsolete. He seems oblivious to the fact that, in context, that's a euphemism for incest. 

As for 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, he claimed that translational disagreements make the passages too ambiguous for an authoritative claim about same-sex relationships.

It's demonstrable that the terminology is a Greek counterpart to the Levitical terminology. So that represents carryover from  OT sexual ethics to NT sexual ethics in this respect. 

He spent the most time dissecting Romans 1:24–31, which describes a “truly, appallingly wicked group” from which we cannot generalize. “There is night and day difference between the people that Paul describes and the committed same-sex couples that I know.

Wolterstorff refuses to permit Rom 1 to apply to his homosexual students and relatives. He filters Rom 1 through his homosexual students and relatives, uses that to screen out the sweeping indictment of Rom 1 on homosexual attraction and homosexual activity. 

Wolterstorff denies that homosexual "orientation" is unnatural. But that begs the question. And it flies in the face of Paul's argument. Moreover, Rom 1 alludes to Gen 1. So Rom 1 is grounded in God's design for human nature. 

Wolterstorff appeals to Paul's statement that it's unnatural for men to wear long hair. But Paul's argument in Rom 1 doesn't turn on one word, just as Paul's argument in 1 Cor 11 doesn't turn on one word. 

Once one says that a homosexual orientation is no more culpable or disordered than a heterosexual orientation, and once one observes that Scripture does not teach that God says that homosexual activity is always wrong, I think we’ve left to conclude that justice requires that the church offer the great good of marriage both to heterosexual couples committed to a loving, covenantal relationship, and to homosexual couples so committed.

The conclusion of cumulative errors every step of the way. He's a sweet, softheaded old duffer who's easily manipulated and conned. 

Wolterstorff extrapolates from Biblical concerns about widows, orphans, and the poor to homosexuals. Homosexuals are analogous to the most vulnerable members of ancient Israel. They have been treated unjustly and dishonorably. So goes the argument. 

But the homosexual lobby is far from weak and defenseless. To the contrary, the homosexual lobby is powerful and punitive. The homosexual lobby is oppressive. These aren't victims, but aggressors. 

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