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RE: Christian LGBT teaching on sexual ethics



[See our initial exchange in this series at
http://www.andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/natter/msg00045.html]

Mr. *********,

Thank you for the close attention that you have given to my response.  I  do
not promote pornography and have rarely chosen to address the subject. As I
wrote earlier, I know of no lesbigay Christian movement that promotes
pornography.  The TSOHOC statement seems clear enough, and it is one of the
major teaching tools within the lbgt Christian community as well as 'about'
the lbgt Christian community.

Do all Christians (whether lbgt or not) practice what the document preaches?
A fundamentalist first cousin to whom I am close asked me a few years back
whether lbgt ministers find pornography as ubiquitous as he does among those
with whom he ministers. Recent studies have shown that Christians are just
as addicted to pornography as the rest of the community.

I doubt the efficacy of complaining about pornography to those who use it.
The best response to bad speech is not censorship but better speech.  The
best response to pornography is not rebuke but more wholesome ways to meet
the erotic needs that prompted the interest in pornography in the first
place.

Pornography can very subtly miseducate.  When I taught in prep schools
almost 50 years ago, many a boy used Playboy Magazine to augment his
auto-eroticism thinking of his girl friend back home.  I wonder how many of
those married the girl friend back home only to find that they preferred the
women pictured in Playboy.  I believe that a healthier response would be to
hold and to cherish those with whom one has made a life commitment.  I
believe that God did not turn out the lights when he made our body parts,
and that we would be unhealthy to think of sex itself as dirty.  It is a
sick society which says, "Sex is dirty so save it for marriage."  Genesis
tells us that God looked at all of creation and said, "It is good!"

While teaching in Hong Kong in the 1980s, to two separate classes in English
Composition I gave the assignment to advise a school board who had received
complaints that "The Song of Songs" is pornographic.  Should the school
board ban the book or allow the teacher to assign it?

None of my students had heard read the book or knew anything about it, so
they advised the school board without depending on received opinions.  I
told one class that the book is from the Bible; I did not tell the other
class that it is.   The classes followed back to back, so there was no
chance for students in one class to compare notes with students in the
other.

Interestingly, those whom I told the "Song of Songs" is from the bible
concluded that the "Song of Songs" was not pornographic, though some of them
acknowledged difficulty in coming to that conclusion.

Those in the class that did not know that the book is from the bible
concluded that the "Song of Songs" is  pornographic.

Few in either class were Christians but that fact did not appear to affect
the decisions in either class.  For both classes, the graphic erotic detail
in parts of the book were difficult to discuss and more difficult to imagine
allowing a student to teach in school.

These students were not as naive as many American undergraduates might be.
Hong Kong then and now is one of the prostitution capitals of the world.  In
almost every block in which my students lived, signs in Chinese appear on
apartment doors saying "Pretty Thai girl here," "Chinese woman from the
countryside here".....  PORNO means "prostitute" in Greek.  GRAPHIC means a
drawing of.

It is hard to know what caused the different response in the two classes.
Many of my colleagues felt it reflected the stronger respect for
authoritarianism in Hong Kong, at that time still a British colony.  Neither
class affirmed the erotic detail, but those who knew it appeared in the
bible were reluctant to tell the school board not to allow it to be read in
schools.

Clearly the pre-Christian Jewish culture in which the book was written did
not consider the description pornographic.  I do not either.  I believe that
it is a healthy celebration of the erotic and the intimate in ways that are
whole and holy, not exploitative or divorced from the whole person.  Of
course, a reader who is not whole or healthy will probably not see that.

With this note, I am going to back off from further discussion of the
subject.  I give it a very low priority in my concerns. Anyone terribly
interested in what a 70-year-old man has to say about sexuality probably
needs to see a doctor (;o')

I hope some of this is useful to you.  If you want to look at more documents
about "blessings," I have collected several at
http://www.andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/rel2.html#blessings.  Again, share
this so long as you share it intact, not just bits and pieces.

Best wishes.

L.


Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12d, East Orange, NJ 07018.  973-395-1068
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew


-----Original Message-----
From: ******* **********                                    
Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 5:49 PM
To: lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu
Subject: RE: Christian LGBT teaching on sexual ethics


Dear Dr. Crew,

Thank you very much.  I appreciate your answer.  I would like to follow up,
in the hope that you can say a little more, and in the hope that I'm not, in
effect, asking you to do my homework for me--although one way of explaining
my dilemma is that I don't know where to go to find what I'm looking for, if
it exists.

At least one strain of the LGBT movement (please forgive me if my
characterizations are clunky) seems to appeal to conservatives like myself
with assurances that gay unions are equivalent, at least spiritually, to
marriage, and with implications that traditional Christianity need be
revised (so to speak) only by making allowances for gay unions.  The
suggestion seems to be that the rest of the moral superstructure will
thereafter remain the same.  In that spirit, section 2.1 of "To Set Our Hope
on Christ" (TSOHOC) states,

"Clearly some expressions of sexuality are inherently contrary to the
Christian way and are sinful. Such unacceptable expressions of sexuality
include promiscuity, prostitution, incest, pornography, pedophilia,
predatory sexual behavior, and sadomasochism (all of which may be
heterosexual or homosexual), adultery, violence against women and in
families, rape and female circumcision. From a Christian perspective these
forms of sexual expression remain sinful in any context."

In your perception, is this a fair statemernt of the Christian LGBT
consensus, or would the statement need some revision?  Your e-mail refers to
"behavior that we reject for ourselves."  Do I infer correctly that this
"behavior" is the sorts of things listed there in TSOHOC 2.1?

To choose pornography as an example, TSOHOC calls it "inherently contrary to
the Christian way" and "sinful in any context".  I realize that, as you say,
the thing you are asking the Church to BLESS is "life-long monogamous
relationships", not pornography.  But I'm asking whether, in your
perception, the LGBT movement teaches in a manner consistent with
TSOHOC--e.g., that pornography is sinful.

You affirm your "hope that few of us will across as roundly condemning
behavior that we reject for ourselves," and I can;t tell for sure what that
means or implies.  Perhaps you used the word "condemning" here to connote an
unforgiving and judgmental spirit, so that what you mean (please correct me
if I'm wrong) is that LGBT Christians wouldn't be pharisaical towards
someone who uses pornography, but LGBT Christians still teach that
pornography is sinful and un-Christian, and that people should avoid it.

Or maybe not.  You might mean that criticizing pornography (or other items
on TSOHOC's list) is simply not on the Christian LGBT radar.  Perhaps that
is the implication of your discounting the effectiveness of a "set of
rules".  I think all Christians would have to agree with you that
rule-keeping is not the essence of the Christian Gospel, and that God's love
isn't conditioned on our behavior.  But only the antinomians would say that
there are NO moral rules that the Church shouldn't teach.  Obviously, TSOHOC
came up with a list.

Maybe one way of phrasing my question is:  Is the Christian LGBT movement
antinomian?

Anyway, please excuse my ramble, and if you are able to answer my questions,
I would be grateful.

--********** *******



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