Wilson on "Sodomy" — Part 2, Sexual Orthodoxy Conference

The Christ Church annual ministerial conference this year is devoted to exploring “Sexual Orthodoxy” through a lens streaked with disdain for women and a typically careless handling of the Word that promises them freedom, equality, and restoration in Christ Jesus.

The opening workshop features Doug Wilson discussing what he stubbornly insists on calling “sodomy” and its status as both a sin of common occurrence and a particular rebellion directed at the Most High. Because I won’t be at the conference, being both out of town and a woman out of town, I can only comment on Wilson’s previous railings against those the rest of the irenic evangelical world calls homosexuals or gays, but
who he generally, but not genially, calls sodomites. When, that is, he’s not discussing on his blog the usefulness of various other hurtful names for people who experience same-sex attraction — faggots, buggarers, catamites, etc.

Anyway, Wilson, like most of the evangelical world, sees homosexual practice as a sin, according to the Scripture. He’s hardly alone in that; the plain, first reading of both Old and New Testament passages clearly state that “homosexuals” are part of that great group of the redeemed in Christ when they forsake their conduct and trust only in Jesus. I’m one of those who wonders if what these passages speak of is the mutual, monogamous, committed relationships I see in the lives of many gay people I know, and I wrestle with what, exactly, is condemned — debauchery consistent with temple prostitution, say, or a loving, deeply committed relationship between two people of the same sex? I’m not convinced that it’s the latter, but I’m content to not know. I could never be content to not respond in gracious humility, though, to those in my life who are homosexual in orientation, whether they live celibately or not. The quality and character of my Christian walk don’t depend on my getting “the gay question” right; they do depend, singularly, on my humility before others as part of my worship of and devotion to my Savior, and my seeking to understand his Word not to be right, but to be righteous.

But I also know that many committed evangelicals believe that Scripture unequivocally condemns same-sex erotic behavior, and I would not ever break fellowship with them over it. Being convinced this way does not make one homophobic or bigoted. Being convinced of this and using one’s certainty to assault and villify GLBT people DOES make someone a homophobe and a bigot. If I’m clear on anything in Scripture, I’m clear on the primacy of love over “getting it right.”

The primacy of love, in this or any other discussion, is not a feature of Wilson’s teaching, and nowhere is this more clearly seen than in his derision of “sodomites.” He purposely, and purposefully, uses a word that immediately divides the speaker from the hearer, and he mocks those of us who prefer to engage with people in the least-hostile, most-truthful, manner possible. That approach, perhaps mitigated by my being a woman, is a target of his indictment of what he cleverly terms “pomosexuality,” his understanding of sexuality and an ethic thereof in this post-Christian and post-modern world.

I’m not as clever as Wilson. I can’t top “pomosexuality.” I can, however, try to turn him back to the faith of his fathers and of his father, a faith that places evangelism at the forefront of Christian engagement. Certainly the saving of souls is not the focus of his or any other Calvinist’s religious walk, but the active, unnecessary repelling of souls shouldn’t be, either. Words of contempt and sarcasm, spit out with clever verbiage that strokes his followers, isn’t a feature of the faith of his fathers, a tenet of Calvinism, or a model for successful Christian engagement with the sinners — straight, gay, and everyone else — we’re supposed to try to reach for Christ.

We are sinners, all of us. There is no sin that any of us is not capable of, and there is no sinner who cannot be redeemed, Calvin and his TULIP notwithstanding. Making fun of homosexuals reinforces no right understanding of Scripture; it simply reinforces convenient bigotries nurtured and accommodated in the weak courage that comes from loving the fact that God hates all the same people you do. No one is a better Christian because they believe conservatively regarding homosexuality, and no one is a worse Christian because they take a more liberal position. But no one who treats other human beings with the kind of withering contempt Wilson and his followers do is a “better” Christian or a “worse” one — the withering contempt gives abundant evidence of simply “not a Christian.” There isn’t an ugly word for that. It stands alone; it doesn’t need one to sully it further.

No human being needs Jesus Christ because he’s gay. We all need Jesus Christ because we live and act and breathe in this sin-saturated world. We draw breath and stumble through life and we sin and find moments of joy and fall down seven times, get up eight, and do it all again. Pray God that those in Wilson’s world who don’t know Christ would receive the breath of life, the pneuma of God’s Spirit, and not the searing blast of hot air he throws so callously — the one that only scorches, never warms, but just produces a great show of fire for the other haters around him.

3 Responses to “Wilson on "Sodomy" — Part 2, Sexual Orthodoxy Conference”

  1. Ashwin says:

    If a person is a homosexual (no matter how committed to his male-partner, no matter how loving to his adopted children etc) and you say to him “All is well with your soul. The Lord delights in your homosexuality.”, then you are his worst enemy. Do not consider yourself his well-wisher. You have harmed him as effectively as you would have harmed a drug-addict by blessing his addiction to cocaine.

    Do not call that love.

    And the Bible is quite clear on the status of the homosexual act. It heads the list of depravities in Romans. Our LGBT neighbours need our love and fellowship. What they do not need it a bunch of us calling what is evil, good. That we may not do. We may not deceive those we are called to love.

  2. Ashwin, I would never, ever, tell an unbeliever “all is well with your soul.” Ever. No matter what their sexual orientation is, I would endeavor to share the Gospel with them.

    Where you and I are different is that I believe his or her homosexuality doesn’t make them more in need of God’s grace than I do, and I know that there are multitudes of gay people, even gay people in sexual, committed relationships, who love Jesus as much as I do. And I don’t have the perfect answer on how to reconcile that with what the Scriptures say — i.e., is Paul, for example, condeming homosexuals as a people group whose existence he was unaware of? (The condemnations refer to behavior practiced, which was far from the committed monogamy we see among some homosexuals).

    I don’t think your position makes you a homophobe, although I would be careful to nuance your understanding of Romans when you say “heads the list of” sins described in Ch. 1. Because I don’t know how to reconcile it, and because I see the fruit of my gay friends’ love for Christ, I choose to believe that there’s a mystery there that I cannot fully figure out. I do believe that the only difference between people is whether or not they’ve accepted God’s free gift of righteousness and Christ — not who they’re sexually attracted to. Again, many, many gay people worship the same Christ I do, often more purely and consistently than I do.

    As always, thanks for your comment.

  3. Ashwin says:

    St. Peter worshipped the same Christ we do. Yet St. Paul had to withstand him to his face. St. Peter was the early Church’s most effective and treasured evangelist. A “better” Christian than St. Paul and yet he had to be rebuked by St. Paul.

    Your homosexual friends might well display the fruit that is by His grace. But that does not “make up” of their wilful disregard of His will. And you must not convey the impression that it does.

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