Hays on Homosexuality (II): Synthesis (Homosexuality in Canonical Context)

“How is human sexuality portrayed in the canon as a whole, and how are the few explicit texts treating homosexuality to be read in relation to this larger canonical framework?”

Hays notes that unlike the the matter of “the subordination of women, concerning which the Bible contains internal tensions and counterposed witnesses, [t]he biblical witness against homosexual practices is univocal.” (389)

Hays then lists three major, overarching canonical considerations to keep in mind as “we place the prohibition of homosexuality in a canonical context:”

  • “God’s [Creational] Intention for Human Sexuality.” “From Genesis 1 onward, Scripture affirms repeatedly that God has made man and woman for one another and that our sexual desires rightly find fulfillment within heterosexual marriage.” (390)
  • The Fallen Human Condition. “The Bible’s sober anthropology rejects the apparently commonplace assumption [on the part of us who are “great-grandchildren of the Enlightenment”] that only freely chosen acts are morally culpable.” Hays sketches how, as a result of Adam’s / humanity’s fall, human beings are in a state of self-deception (he quotes Jer 17:9) and bondage (“We are ‘slaves of sin'” Hays writes, referencing Rom 6:17) . “Redemption (a word that means ‘being emancipated from slavery’) is God’s act of liberation, setting us free from the power of sin and placing us within the sphere of God’s transforming power for righteousness (Rom 6:20-22; 8:1-11; cf 12:1-2).”
  • The Demythologizing of Sex. Contrary to the assumptions of today’s (western) culture, the Bible undermines our obsession with sexual fulfillment. It bears witness, in fact, that we can be totally fulfilled and joyful without sexual relations. “Sex,” unlike food or drink, one would suppose, “is a matter of secondary importance…. Never within the canonical perspective does sexuality become the basis for defining a person’s identity or for finding meaning and fulfillment in life.” (At this point I must admit that it seems to me that Hays overlooks the Song of Solomon as well as the old covenant’s emphasis on childbirth, which is surely fulfilled in Christ but still somehow relevant for life in the new covenant and is probably somehow related to 1 Tim 2:15: “[a woman] will be saved through childbearing.” Given these, it does seem to me that “sexual fulfilment” might be more important than Hays allows, albeit in a way radically different from the assumptions of our culture.)
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