Lambrecht accuses Haynes of:
- Using the results of scientific inquiry to overturn the teachings of Scripture.
Haynes states that homosexuality is "a genetic sexual orientation." Lambrecht cites the American Psychological Association as disagreeing, saying that there is no consensus about the cause of homosexuality. Lambrecht is correct in saying, "Scientists have identified no 'gay gene.'" Of course there are countless traits that have not been identified by a specific gene that nevertheless are likely genetic. Although the research is disputed, this article gives a quick primer on the possible link between homosexuality and epigenetics (changes to our DNA after conception.)
Lambrecht's science vs. scripture setup is unfair. There are hints even as far back as Augustine that our understanding of Scripture can be altered based on what we glean from science and the world. In the Methodist tradition, One of our foremost Wesleyan scholars, Randy Maddox, says, "And when Wesley confronted an apparent conflict between current science and Scripture, he sought an understanding that did justice to both." In this case, if there is science that suggests that homosexuality is not a choice the door is open to the possibility is reconciling it with Scripture. I would add to Lambrecht's conclusion, "We ground our understanding about morality, right and wrong, in the timeless truths of Scripture" the words, "that have continued to be clarified and refined over the last 2,000 years." We have greater understanding now, and we can embrace that along with Scripture.
- Arguing from silence.
Haynes rightfully points out, "Holy Scripture never refers to homosexuality in the context of a loving relationship between two consenting adults whose sexual orientation might be naturally homosexual, and who have a committed, monogamous relationship or marriage." Lambrecht's reply is wholly unsatisfactory.
First, he claims that "historical research has demonstrated that such relationships did exist in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds" and cites Plato and Philo as examples. But Philo merely quotes Plato and Plato wrote roughly 400 years before Paul. Is the best evidence for same-sex relationships really the writings of a person who lived 400 years earlier than the period we are focusing on? Actually, yes. That is the best evidence. And it's lousy evidence. Plato appears to be writing not about real relationships but idealized relationships, so it's unlikely that even he knew about actual loving relationships. Further, in her masterful work Paul Among the People, Sarah Ruden demonstrates that there is absolutely no evidence contemporaneous to Paul of loving same-sex relationships.
Second, he points out that "Given that every reference in Scripture to homosexual behavior is negative, one would think that the authors would mention the exception that merited acceptance, in order to clarify what the Bible really teaches." But this misses the most basic point - the Biblical authors didn't write about an exception because they did not know there was an exception! They had not witnessed an exception! It would sound as foreign to the culture at the time as a conversation about condoms and birth control pills. How would they even talk about it?
Finally, Lambrecht says, "Arguments from silence are always fraught with uncertainty and not something one can build one's theology on." This is true in and of itself, but it is not reflective of the theology of those of us in favor of LGBT people. We build our theology on the most basic of Christian beliefs, the Love of God. For one example of a positive theology you're welcome to watch a recent sermon I gave on the topic of same-sex marriage.
- Ignoring Scriptures that don’t support your viewpoint.
In summary, Lambrecht states, 'Haynes does not explain how the constant thread of heterosexual marriage from Genesis to Revelation supports the affirmation of same-sex relationships." My simple reply is that the Biblical passages Lambrecht supplies support marriage, period. None of them argue against same-sex marriage. They are silent.
Lambrecht posted part 3 of his blog yesterday. I'll tackle it next week.