The call to be one flock under the one shepherd

Andrew Sullivan points us to a review written by Christopher Benson of Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion by Oliver O’Donovon:

O’Donovan limns the biblically acceptable identity: “Gays are children of Adam and Eve, brothers and sisters of Christ. There is no other foundation laid than that. ‘He will feed his flock like a shepherd’; from which it follows, simpliciter and without adjustment, that he will feed gays like a shepherd, too.” While acknowledging that “there are other, less fundamental senses to the concept of ‘identity’” and special needs in the flock, he cautions the church against exaggerated differences:

The gospel is addressed to human beings irrespective of their condition, and there is no prima facie place to dismember it into a series of gospels for discrete social sectors. Why would there by a gospel for the homosexual any more than a gospel for the teacher of literature, for the civil magistrate, or for the successful merchant (to name just three categories that the early church viewed with the same narrowing of the eyes that a homosexual may encounter today)?

It is for the church to address the good news, we may say; it is for the recipient—homosexual, pedagogue, politician or captain of industry—to hear it and to say how he or she hears it in and from this or that social position.

The challenge at the present moment, it seems to me, is for the church to develop a ministry of recognition, in which same-sex attracted persons are dignified—alongside others—as “beloved,” while avoiding a ministry of difference, where such persons are excused from integration, licensed to innovate beyond Scripture and tradition. Put differently, same-sex attracted persons should be grafted onto—not subtracted from—the one tree of Christ, nourished from that root (Rom. 11:11–24).

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5 Comments
  1. With respect, there’s no need to “graft” a branch that has been there since the beginning and has become a major source of strength and life for the tree. That said, I appreciate the spirit of the argument. My lbgt parishioners are grateful to simply have a place where they can be Christians, not “gay Christians”. To do otherwise is to be like the lady at the cocktail party some years ago who introduced me to her “black friend”. After seeing the look on my face, she and her friend laughed and said they were just messing w me. Whoo.

    Please sign your name Hopeful Priest. thanks ~ed.

  2. tgflux

    Link to the review, please.

    JC Fisher

    JC – fixed with 2 new links ~ed.

  3. tgflux

    Keeping with the church’s traditional consensus on the sin of homosexuality, Paris, O’Donovan, and Hill view the moral status of homosexuality…: the point in Benson’s review where I checked out (because the presupposition DOES NOT HOLD).

    JC Fisher

  4. Gary Paul Gilbert

    This is bad stuff because it implies a category of person, LGBTs, are supposed to be celibate. This sort of religion is creepy.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

    “The majority typically answers these questions for the minority, but O’Donovan entrusts them to gay Christians like Hill, who is admirably free of the liberal gay movement with its emancipation narrative and victim mentality. From a worldly perspective, the Bible’s no to homosexual practice is viewed as the impossible demand of a sadistic God and pharisaical church. We’re told that “being sexually active is the way to be most alive—to be fully, truly, beautifully human,” as Hill observes. But perhaps the Bible’s no to same-sex behavior is actually a yes to something even greater than sexual expression, which is good, no doubt, but also potentially idolatrous, especially in our oversexed culture, and certainly not our summum bonum (or highest good). Hill quotes philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, “I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’” It’s this prior question that gets ignored in the debate on homosexuality because the church has mistakenly given primacy to ethics over the narrative functions of doctrine and ministry.

    Hill is learning to struggle well as a celibate gay man because of his embeddedness in “the true story of what God has done in Jesus Christ.”

  5. Bill Dilworth

    Gary, Hill seems to be the Evangelical counterpart to Eve Tushnet.

    I don’t begrudge any celibate gay Christian their choice, but when their choice is presented as the ONLY legitimate one – yeah, that’s creepy.

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