Slaves, Women and Homosexuals

Over the past few decades, some Christians began comparing the legitimization of homosexuality and the legalization of same sex marriage with earlier struggles in our society over slavery or the status and role of women in the church and society. One of the more recent examples of this argument can be found in an article published in the Washington Post by Adam Hamilton, the well known and influential senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
The underlying assumption is that just as people used the Bible to resist the abolition of slavery in the 19thcentury or the advent of women’s rights in the 20th century, so we are on the “the wrong side of history” if we do not, likewise, realize the same thing is happening with respect to the way the Bible is being interpreted as relates to homosexuality. After all, the argument goes, opposition to homosexuality and same sex marriage is passing away, and before too many more years we will all be shocked – and even embarrassed – that we opposed it. Whatever biblical affirmations one may find concerning slavery or prohibitions concerning women or homosexual behavior are therefore (it is argued) culturally bound and should be set aside for a more enlightened and inclusive view. However, I am not convinced these three categories are as comparable as the argument implies. Certainly, we would all agree this is one argument we cannot afford to get wrong, and therefore deserves greater scrutiny.


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