Hermeneutics As Sexual Identity

Something Orwell could tell us, were he here, is that the perversion of language is the mother of all subsequent perversions. In Politics and the English Language, he pointed to language that consisted “largely of euphemisms, question begging, and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

Sheer cloudy vagueness.

“My name is Justin Lee, and I’m a committed Christian who takes the Bible seriously and wants to improve the church’s terrible reputation. I’m a speaker and writer who tries to address difficult issues from a compassionate, Bible-based, Christ-centered perspective—with some pop culture and humor thrown in for good measure.”

“Today, I run The Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit organization with members on both sides that provides support to people who feel caught in the crossfire.”

There is much here to make an honest man wince, but let me point to just two things. First, what on earth does it mean to “take the Bible seriously”? Does it mean that disobedience can be sanctified by a furrowed brow? Does it mean that the Bible is given the honorary seat as lead discussion partner at the never-ending seminar? And, having been given that honorary slot, does it preside over all the subsequent discussions in much the same spirit that Jeremy Bentham’s stuffed remains attend University College London council meetings, “present, but not voting”? Taking the Bible seriously means that you get all of the feely gravitas, and none of the nuisance. Your faith can be very precious to you, and at the same time not get in the way of something else that is even more precious to you. We need not go into what that is.

The second thing to note here is the phrase “improve the church’s terrible reputation.” If this meant that, Jeremiah-like, the writer wanted to improve the church’s reputation with God, presenting her faultless and without spot, well, then there could be no complaint. That is sort of the whole point of human history, after all.

But alas, I suspect it means something else. I suspect it means that the church is in the dock, looking abashed, and the zeitgeist is up behind the bench, powdered wig and all, with wooden hammer in hand, all set to gavel the church’s seething hatreds flat. You believe that Paul teaches that it is wrong for men to leave the natural use of the woman? Scoundrel! Wham! Rather, you must take this text seriously, and wrestle with the contours of it. Who doesn’t know that?

But there is no surer recipe for capitulating to utter, god-forsaken worldliness than to put worldliness in charge of whether or not you have a good reputation. Under this set-up, the only way to improve the church’s reputation is by posting bond, and promising never to do it again.

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