[percy-l] God's Gender and Ham Sandwiches
PARLINS at culver.org
Thu Aug 14 21:38:55 EDT 2003
A point of clarity.
If the sacred scriptures are to be held as an authoritative text, someone
has to be able to interpret it with absolute authority. Otherwise, we really
are wasting our time debating whose interpretation is accurate. Yours? Mine?
His? Hers? (Did someone mention the sin of pride?).
No one has that authority except the author, the Church (by way of her
divinely inspired writers).
The sacred scriptures (at least the NT) came from the Church, not the
reverse. The Church was established long before the Bible was ever compiled
as an anthology. In fact, as far as we know....Jesus never said anything at
all about writing matters down, not the Gospels, not the epistles, nothing.
(In fact...theoretically...the Church could still exist without the Bible,
and still have the same authority to preach the Good News).
In other words, the Bible emerged from the Church. It was authored by (or at
least through) the inspired members of the Church. Therefore, only the
Church has the authority (and the Tradition) to interpret the Bible.
Now... it's quite possible that this is all bunk. (God help us if it is).
But, if it is bunk...then once again... we are wasting our time debating
interpretations, for the Bible is, as I think Robert suggested, no more
significant than the writings of Orwell, Percy, or Weil. It's just another
Moreover, if the Church is mistaken and such things, I'm hardly going to
take my cues from anyone else.
In short, either the RC Church has it right or she's full of crap.
I'm placing my bets, as did Percy, that she's not full of crap.
From: Karey L. Perkins [mailto:karey at charter.net]
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 1:39 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: Re: [percy-l] God's Gender and Ham Sandwiches
Thanks for the reasoned response - quick reply: You say we should judge for
ourselves what is right and wrong. Yes - but to apply to our own behavior.
(And, as a side note, it's a complicated involved and thoughtful process
that isn't simply listening to what someone else says or a "literal
interpretation of the Bible" (since it seems clear we've established that
"literal" meanings vary depending on who's reading them - we here can't even
decide on the meaning of "marriage" or "homophobe" or etc.). )
However, I don't think we do much good for anyone, including ourselves, by
judging others -- if we're busy taking the mote out of another's eye often
we have a log in our own - as someone on the list already said. We have so
many more important things to do for them. (Jesus declared our most
important admonishments are to love God first, and our neighbor and
Do you really think the fact that the Pharisees never questioned Jesus about
homosexuality is the reason that he never mentioned it? Are all the things
we have recorded about Jesus in direct response to the Pharisees or issues
of the day?
I was being slightly facetious with the cross-dressing and ham sandwich
thing (as I guess you picked up) - the point was we go around violating
God's law probably multiple times every day and others could just as easily
admonish US for that. Better to pay attention to our own behavior than try
to change others'.... If we judge them, we put ourselves above them (pride
- the greatest sin), and usually we're not paying attention to what we need
to do spiritually ourselves.
Paul's comments were more culturally determined (the "po-mo-phobes" in the
bunch will probably hate that remark) and much of what he said regarding
social groups and social arrangements (women, homosexuality, marriage,
dressing, etc.) can be read as influenced by his social context.
Do you want to hear MY judgment (since I'm being accused of the "sin" of
postmodernism by withholding it)? OK, let's get technical here: Dante
places the sexual sinners in the first or second (I forget which one, but
it's early) circle of his Inferno. That's because the sexual sins
(adultery, etc.) are a kind of "missing the mark" of the greatest virtue,
love. And that's where our homos would go IF indeed Paul is right that they
are sinning. But those guilty of the sin of pride are MUCH further down in
Dante's scheme. I'm with Dante on this (who was decidedly un-po-mo).
----- Original Message -----
From: Tim Cole <mailto:tcole at adobe.com>
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical <mailto:percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 1:56 PM
Subject: Re: [percy-l] God's Gender and Ham Sandwiches
In addition, the surrounding words of this name of God have feminine
inflection, further emphasizing the feminine nature of this side of God.
I think it's reasonable to think that God is a mix of what we would label
both male and female traits...and it has implications in what Genesis says
about marriage between man and woman.
In Jewish tradition, to say that God is only male and not female is
blasphemy because it is limiting God.
Agreed. We see through a glass darkly...
And I firmly believe not only should we not judge, but we accomplish nothing
(only harm) by judging.
We are called to love.
We are also called to discern, test the spirits, test doctrine, hold fast to
that which is good. We can't do that without making moral or epistemic
judgments. If you're saying that not judging means not being able to do
this, then I disagree and think you have problems with both the OT and NT in
what it affirms and commands with regard to conduct.
I think what we're told not to do is judge the hearts of others...things
that only God can know.
Jesus also never said anything against homosexuality.
Which is not surprising since there wasn't a gay rights movement in 1st
century Palestine. It wasn't an issue, like divorce, around which there was
much theological debate. The Pharisees tested Jesus on the hot potatoes of
the day...homosexuality wasn't one of them because Hebraic culture and
theology condemned it una
Leviticus DOES say a man shall not lay with a man as a woman, but the
literal interpretation means "DRESSED" as a woman (hence literally it's a
polemic against cross-dressing???)(!).
The literal interpretation of what word(s) in Leviticus 18 or 20, exactly?
Shakab means to lie with sexually. Odd that an admonition about cross
dressing would be so badly misinterpreted by Jewish scholars for so many
Leviticus says it's an "abomination" for a man to lay with a man as a woman.
However, Leviticus says exactly the same thing about eating pork - that is,
uses exactly the same word - translated an "abomination" - to describe the
act of eating pork.
At the risk of getting sidetracked into a protracted debate about the Bible
and homosexuality, the revisionist arguments of Boswell and others have been
refuted thoroughly and frequently. Suffice it to say that ham and
cross-dressing comparison isn't valid (there are both ceremonial and ethical
abominations...they are different...one is associated with the Works of the
Law that defined Jewishness [and about which Peter had to be sorted out via
a vision in light of Gentile believers], the other is a fluxless universal
ethical standard), and the Biblical teaching in the subject goes way beyond
the statements in Leviticus. There's Romans 1, and, perhaps more
importantly, there's the description of marriage in Genesis. You can
understand the Biblical position on homosexuality not just based on the
prohibitions, but also the affirmations.
The marriage of man and woman is a picture of the full nature of God (as
referenced above), and it is the divine plan...according to the Bible, at
least. This union is what the Bible affirms and what both OT and NT morality
are designed to protect and help flourish.
Of course this is not an excuse for real 'homophobia,' whatever that is, or
gay bashing, but it does constitute Biblical grounds for condemning the
behavior...or so I believe. ;^)
An archive of all list discussion is available at
Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy
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