Kansas United Methodist mega church pastor Adam Hamilton’s essay in “The Washington Post” comparing church disapproval of homosexual practice to early 19th century support for slavery has provoked several published responses. Check out columns by Asbury Seminary President Tim Tennent and Good News leaders Rob Renfroe and Tom Lambrecht. There’s also my own piece in “Patheos,” introduced by Tim Dalrymple.
Here are recent comments from former Asbury Seminary President Maxie Dunnam, a revered evangelical leader within United Methodism:
THE BIBLE AND SAME SEX MARRIAGE
As much as I appreciate Adam, I think he has fallen into the too-easy position of talking about people having used Scripture to support slavery and people now using Scripture to make the case against the practice of homosexuality and same sex marriage. Though not explicitly talking about marriage, he says he observes the love and relationship of same sex couples he knows very much like his and his wife’s love and relationship. None of the Scripture that speaks of the sin of homosexuality is related to the sexual intimacy and commitment of marriage.
To put people who support the position of Scripture on the issue of homosexuality in the same “bag” with those who used Scripture to support slavery is more than a far stretch, it is unreasonably. When we appeal to Scripture in determining our faith and our lifestyles, we have to do more than use isolated texts, or even isolated “bundles of texts.” We have to allow scripture to interpret scripture, and I believe that is often best done by thinking of the “trajectory” of the larger narrative.
It is clear as you read the whole of Scripture that the witness does not support human slavery…the “trajectory” is clearly opposed to one person being a slave to another, the affirmation is that every person is a unique, unrepeatable miracle of God, all precious to God and of utmost value…none more valuable than another.
The “trajectory” is clear in relation to human sexuality. It is in the order of creation…”God made them male and female”, made them complementary in so many ways, including sexual intercourse, with the sexual relation between male and female essential for the ongoing life of human kind . God created us in such a way that man and woman could become “one flesh.” This is a powerful witness within itself and should provide a clear picture of God’s intention for human sexuality.
Some folks say that Jesus did not address the issue of homosexuality. He did it clearly in his definition of marriage. He referred back to the order of creation. God “who made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”(Matt. 19:4-5). If this is not enough, the “trajectory” is clear and confirmed throughout Scripture. God’s plan is for human sexuality and the procreation of the race is the marriage of male and female sharing in the intimacy of the sexual relationship in the context of marriage.