Hays on Homosexuality (prolegemena): Gary

The quality Richard Hays’ treatment of this issue in his The Moral Vision of the New Testament (pp 379-406) is both rare and encouraging (though I will have some questions / criticisms later on).

First, though, I want to extol the way he opens up the discussion by talking about his relationship with his friend Gary. Gary, by Hays’ description a homosexual, was Hays’ best friend in undergrad who had over the years developed some serious, deeply held convictions about what the Bible actually teaches about being gay.

I am grateful that Hays situates his discussion of this issue in the context of his relationship with Gary. As we will see, both sides of this debate (both the conservatives who see no “grey” in the sub-issues surrounding homosexuality, and the self-styled progressives in the church who amount to little more than political activists with an ideological agenda) fall short of faithful theological reflection, and so I am not simply wanting to “slam” the conservatives here, but I must ask: among all of my friends in the PCA who have firm, settled opinions about homosexuality and the sub-issues surrounding it (some of these sub-issues will be discussed later on), how many are in actual relationships with a gay or lesbian person? Some, perhaps, but precious few. Here as elsewhere (issues such as “liberalism” or Roman Catholicism) most of us in the PCA are quite content to offer abstract critiques from a great distance.

I am grateful, then, to a couple of friends who are Christians (and in the PCA) who actually do have real relationships with gay or lesbian people, especially my friend Tessa. I am also grateful for my experience with so many Starbucks partners over the years who are in some sense homosexual, many of whom are open to exploring life as a Christian.

Unlike many would-be progressives, almost none of my G/L Starbucks friends “draw their entire identity from their sexuality,” a tendency which Gary lamented according to Hays.

A conviction of Gary’s which seems right to me: Hays writes that “he was angry at self-affirming gay Christian groups, because he regarded his own condition as more complex and tragic [emphasis mine] than their stance could acknowledge.” As I hope to discuss, this criticism cuts in both directions: the stance of many conservatives is just as simplistic, it seems to me.

After 20 years of struggling to make sense of his homosexual orientation and the Bible, Gary was planning to co-author an article with Hays about all this, but he died before that could happen.

This article is part of a larger series. For other installments, see

here, here, and here for Part I.

here and here for Part II.

here and here for Part III.

here for Part IV.

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[…] OK, I have blogged on Richard Hays’ (Duke Divinity School NT scholar) work on homosexuality here. […]

[…] My own interpretation of Scripture, in light of tradition and reason, is pretty much the same as that of Richard B. Hays at Duke. This is my “default view,” and I have blogged extensively about it here. […]

[…] news & culture, political theology, the Christian Life / Prayer, theology / ecclesiology See here for the introduction to this […]

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