Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Concluding Words from Dave Glesne

Post from Dave Glesne:
Author of "Understanding Homosexuality."

Dear Lars,
I can only imagine how time-consuming and energy draining the last weeks have been as you embraced the cause there in your own community. I’m glad for your sake that there finally appears to be some breathing room for you.

As you mentioned in your recent post, I suggested that we are perhaps at a natural ending point in our conversation. As we were going back and forth over those many weeks, I asked myself what would be indications as to when we would reach that point. My thought was that when we (and maybe even more so our readers) began repeating ourselves it may be an indication that this particular aspect of the conversation has run its course. I was sensing that we were beginning to go over the same ground. I say that fully believing that such conversations should never really end.

I too want to thank you for the respectful conversation we have had. I choose the word “respectful” very carefully and with gratitude. I hope we have modeled for others the kind of dialogue that is needed in discussions such as these. In such a conversation iron sharpens iron and I am grateful for that process we have been through together.

I agree with you that at the end of the day the conversation comes down to one of worldviews, presuppositions, and following through logically and consistently from those starting points. You summarized in your post where you are at currently. Permit me to do the same by way of summary.

The presupposition that I start with is that God exists. I believe that this God is a Personal God who has a moral character and that he has communicated to human beings made in his image, truth about himself and his character and about us human beings. I believe this God is love and holy at the same time, and that is why love and Law can never finally be separated from one another. I understand God’s 10 commandments (moral law) to flow out of his moral character not only to show us we are sinners (negative use) so that we can turn to Christ for forgiveness, but also to reveal his will for our lives (positive use) in what makes for the fullness of life. They are the way of freedom which God deeply desires for all his children. I believe God sets me free in Christ from the curse of the law to love Christ above all else. Then in any given situation I walk into, I can ask, “What do I do with regard to my neighbor to demonstrate my love for Christ?” I believe my love for Christ is demonstrated by being obedient to his commandments. I believe that is what Jesus meant when he said, “If you love me you will obey my commandments”. God’s law then becomes the law of liberty. No wonder the Apostle Paul could say, “I delight in the law of the Lord.”

With regard to the sexual behavior of my same-sex neighbor, (as with the pre-marital and extra marital sexual behavior of my heterosexual neighbor), love for my same-sex neighbor - both inside and outside the church - does not allow me to say “yes” to what God has said “no”. For both my homosexual and heterosexual neighbor the call is rather to deny self, take up one’s cross, and follow Christ. The cross, death to self and things, is not the easy road, but it is the road to life.

I would take issue with “Theologians such as Spong, Wink, and many others have made the biblical case for full equality.” I would argue that the revisionist scholars have not made the case biblically. The claim that the Bible is opposed only to particularly exploitative forms of homosexual practice – such as pederasty, coercive sex with slaves, or solicitation of prostitutes – is generally made in ignorance of the arguments that suggest Scripture’s opposition - without exception - to homosexual practice. Even Walter Wink who is supportive of homosexual unions, acknowledges, for example, that Paul’s indictment is not limited to particularly exploitative instances of same-sex intercourse. He says the Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior, and “there is no getting around it.” He simply believes the Bible is wrong on this issue.

Our conversation for good or ill has revolved primarily around 4 pages (in chapter 3) of my 185 page book, Understanding Homosexuality. The great majority of the book deals with the biblical argument and then a call for pastoral care of the church with same-sex persons. For those within the church who hold to at least some semblance of the authority of Scripture, the bulk of the discussion will center on the arguments from Scripture. The moral question can only be answered from God’s Word – not science. However, when communicating with those outside the church who do not believe the Scriptures, the discussion will be in the arena of creation and science. In these differing communications, we are simply following Paul’s example in the Book of Acts where when speaking to the Jews, he always argued out of the Scriptures because it was a common authority, but when he spoke to the Gentiles he never argued from out of the Scriptures, but always started rather with creation – something common to both. It does no good to argue out of the Scriptures with one who does not believe the Scriptures. But the things of creation and science, the structures of the human body, diseases, etc. is a common experience for all human beings – believer as well as unbeliever.

Thank you, Lars, for providing the forum to exchange ideas and inviting me into this discussion. My respect for you as a person has grown throughout the conversation while at the same time I have found myself not agreeing with certain views and ideas. That is a positive for which I am thankful.



Anonymous said...

I have just returned home from an Ash Wednesday service - I stood with Stan Baker (of the famous Baker decision here in Vermont that resulted in civil unions) and as he anointed our priest's forehead with those sticky ashes, I understood Ash Wednesday a little better.... it is a wonderful thing to worship Jesus, but it is more important that we follow him. It is, after all, what he asked us to do. Right?

Stan is a humble, beautiful child of God who lives in a committed, lifelong relationship, with his partner, Peter. He already has God's blessing on this love, and the love and light of Jesus shines from his very being is witness enough of God's innate dwelling within him - I understand that the two of you have had a very intellectual discussion here and it really does have its place. I get it and have done the same. But it is so much simpler than all of this, isn't it? No one was ever argued or debated into loving someone or accepting those who are different. I suspect the sides of the river that are chosen are simply that, chosen. I pray that someday these discussions will be viewed in the same light as issues of slavery or women's right to vote - they had to occur, but in the end, the world always spins forward. And to that, I say "Amen". May this season of Lent help us all truly move toward being an Easter people.

Sara Baker
(married to Danielle O'Hallisey, with four beautiful kids up here in snowed in Vermont)

Anonymous said...

P.S. I should mention that Stan and I are not related, though we share a last name! :)

Friend of Jonathan said...

How lucky for Dave Glesne, he allows himself the fullness of a loving relationship, but gets to tell GLBTQ people to "deny self, take up one’s cross, and follow Christ"

Maybe it is long past time for people like Dave to 'deny self' by resisting the impulse to judge other people's private lives, 'take up one's cross' of granting to others all the same opportunities and liberties one he wants for himself, and 'follow Christ' who never said a word about homosexuality, but a great deal about injustice.