May 18, 2009

A Summary

Over at the House of Bishops/Deputies list I was asked to provide a summary of the arguments in favor of a change in church policy on homosexuality. Having just recently published that fairly long (192 pages of 10pt type) book on the topic, I'm somewhat reluctant to try to wrap it up in a short summary. But I think I can state a few "theses" that I develop in the book.

I believe that marriage is not solely about procreation. The two stories of creation offer two models for loving human relationships: the first focused on procreation, the second on companionship (and most importantly, companionship as judged by the companions). The first account emphasizes the likeness of the man and woman to God; the second account their likeness to each other. The first account emphasizes the capacity to bear fruit and to rule the creation; the second the capacity to love and unite, in service to creation. And I think same-sex couples, while not capable of physical procreation between themselves, are capable of fulfilling the most humane aspect of procreation that takes them outside of themselves (the care and nurture of children) and are fully capable of carrying out all of the other creation ordinances.

I believe that the cultures in which the Scriptures were composed had different understandings of the world from our own, particularly on certain central concepts, including sex and sexuality. For instance, the moral world of the Hebrew Scriptures, and to some extent the Gospels and Epistles, shows a marked asymmetry in regard to men and women. To give just two examples, under Jewish law a man could only violate another man's marriage, a woman only her own; and there is no mention of female same-sex behavior in the Torah — or the rest of the Old Testament. (Nor did the rabbis come to regard it as equivalent to male same-sexuality.) So to read and apply the Scripture without taking note of the cultural differences within the Scriptures themselves (where development of moral thinking is often indicated), and between the biblical and apostolic times and now (in which there have been further developments in ethical and moral thinking, as well as in the social and "hard" sciences), is to treat the Scriptures in a way that distorts the truly eternal message they were intended to convey.

I believe the church has made such movement on other issues, coming to accept and even endorse things condemned in Scripture, and to forbid things commanded there. I argue for applying the same "weights and measures" in examining the question of same-sex relationships.

I do not believe these changes have no application to our present concerns: for example, the change in the dietary law was understood by Saint Peter not to be merely about food, but about all that Jews held to be "unclean" about Gentiles, up to and including their persons.

I believe a close and careful reading of the biblical texts (and the tradition both in later Judaisms and Christianity) does not require a wholesale condemnation of all same-sex relationships any more than it requires wholesale approval of all mixed-sex relationships.

I believe that much of the negativity towards same-sex relationships does not derive from Scripture, but from reflections of the patristic era in their conflict with aspects of Hellenism and paganism, and the emergence of a "natural law" tradition that has its own flaws, prejudices and weaknesses. Ethical thought in that tradition relied more on Aristotle than on Jesus, to its detriment.

I believe that the ethic to which Jesus invites us is not about forbidding specific actions, or pursuing abstract virtues, but is about action in a context based on disposition, intent, relationship, and above all the impulse to give of oneself for sake of the other. He emphasizes the "inside" over the "outside" and calls for a morality that is not about external compliance, but a converted heart.

This is a radical condensation of the many issues that inform the discussion which I think has to take place. My book was offered as a contribution to the "listening process" and I invite those interested in hearing what I have come to understand to take a look at it. I have taken pains, as a result of carefully reading the books and essays of those with whom I disagree, to provide some answers to their objections. I have always said that I learn more from talking with people with whom I disagree than with those who agree and do not challenge me.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

20 comments:

R said...

Br. Tobias,

Thank you for this summary and for your book, which I am appreciating as a point of theological departure on these matters just as much as I enjoy your erudition and wit!

I am interested in the matter of covenant as it applies to marriage and how it links in with our biblical and sacramental traditions (from Abraham to baptism) and how this might provide a framework for moving this discussion forward. Do you have some thoughts on this? More to the point, is there a reason you do not appeal to covenant more in your discussion of these matters?

One point I find appealing in this is that covenant points to some of the same-gendered relationships (whether sexual or not) in Scripture. David and Jonathan come to mind.

Again, this us not an endeavor to proof-text, but just my seeking out a via positiva when considering the theological bases for same-sex marriage.

Blessings!

Christopher said...

Fr. Tobias,

So far I have only one disagreement. You quote C.S. Lewis on friendship to the effect that friendship is about needing something from the other. I just finished a bit by Austin Farrer who describes friendship in terms closer to your description of lovers--as enjoying one another's company. My experience of really good friendship, like that with my friend Derek (who you may know as he's a seminarian in NYC), is closer to your description of lovers than to your decsription of friends. We enjoy one another's company.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thank you, Richard and Christopher.

Richard, this volume is keyed more to the via negativa -- a response to the major critiques, or apologia -- rather than an exploration of the more positive side of things. For that, I commend my thesis, "Lawfully Joined" which you can link to through the sidebar under "Other Related Reflections." This in some ways represents the other half of the argument, and addresses issues of covenant and the theology of blessing, as well as a careful liturgical/theological review.

Christopher, I'm not sure that's what I intended about friendship -- and surely friendship does form a part of intimate relationships, though it can exist apart from intimacy. As I recall, what Lewis was referring to was the fact that friends often enjoy each others' company because they share some common interest that is extrinsic to themselves. (I'm not sure it is about "need" but interest.) His image is that friends stand side by side looking at something in which they share common interest, while lovers look to each other. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify. (I'm assuming you are referring to the passage on page 144. Perhaps I was unwise to blend the language from Pirke Avot with Lewis' concept. The "dependency" of the Mishnah is not so much "need" as "particularity." True friendship will naturally involve the friend as well as the common interest, and the deeper the friendship the more it will share the characteristics of a loving relationship. My intent was simply to defuse the allegation that David and Jonathan were "friends" -- as this is contrary to the Scriptural account and the rabbinic tradition. The relationship of D & J was based on the love of one for the other, not on some common interest, or temporary attraction. It was an intimate union of the whole person (nephesh).

Thanks to both of you for raising these, as they will help me to clarify further. I realize that sometimes in thinking so much about things I forget or neglect to "get it all out there" on the page. (Even though I'm an extrovert by temperament, I can fall victim to that particular kind of introversion!)

John Bassett said...

I think we need to step back a little further from the immediate topic of the debate to ask deeper questions about the nature of Scripture and the forming of ethical imperatives. As long as the argument is framed in terms of scriptural commandments and whether or not they apply, I think that we are stuck in a legal model which is not helpful to just about any topic of discussion in Christianity today.

To me, the reading and reflecting on Scripture both individually and collectively is fundamentally about forming an identity, not finding specific rules and regulations. Scripture, particularly when the Word is connected to Sacrament and vibrant community, gives us the tools which helps us begin to understand the our lives and our world. Sometimes, even often, Scripture can lead us in opposite directions at the same time, and move us to embrace values which might seem to be at odds with one another. Out of all this muddle we try to construct moral rules which seem to structure these values in some vaguely coherent, if not always perfectly logical, way.

Discussing the "church policy" on same-sex relationships needs to be part of a much, much larger discussion. Instead it seems to be following stuck in nineteenth century categories of thinking even as the Church seems to be able to transcend those categories in other areas.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

John, I certainly agree that we need to move the conversation forward, but I think it important to note that conversation requires us to deal with the issues actually raised by those with whom we disagree -- and among those issues is the vexed question not only of what Scripture says, but of its authority.

In the long run, I think a close examination of the Scriptural text, and the record of how the church has dealt with portions of that text through its history, is a very profitable way forward -- exactly the kind of transcending the particular in order to serve the greater needs of the Gospel.

John Bassett said...

Let me say again that I do not disagree with any of your conclusions. I am just getting the sense that we are allowing the ACNA/GAFCON crowd to frame the questions.

In a sense we need to me more like Jesus. When confronted with the narrow question of when it was acceptable for a man to divorce his wife, he moved the discussion to the very nature of marriage itself. He did not get himself trapped in the narrow categories set by his opponents.

To me, the whole question of the "authority" of scripture presupposes its use as a rule book or at least a source book for rules. If we argue narrowly that these rules simply do not apply in this situation, we are not challenging the broader culture of legalism and proof-texting.

Marshall said...

John, I appreciate your focus on formation, and on reading and reflecting on Scripture primarily for formation rather than for legislating, if you will. In addition to Tobias' comment, it seems to me hard to consider formation as a goal when the literalists (if only selective literalists) want to reject the possiblity that GLBT persons can be formed as Christians, can be formed by Scripture, without distorting who they are.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

I take your point, John, but I disagree about Jesus' technique to some extent. He acts as a Rabbi among Rabbis -- and uses rabbinic technique to respond to them. For instance, in the divorce debate he does a classic midrash -- taking two texts to illuminate the present question. (He also alludes to a number of other laws, to which I refer in my text.) In the case of the woman taken in adultery, he refers back to the law about witnesses (the eyewitness is to cast the first stone) and tweaks it by forcing the witnesses to call to mind their own sins -- which they themselves witnessed.

Jesus is like a Judo expert who uses his opponents energy and technique against them. He used the rabbinic tools at his disposal to undercut those who disagreed with him; and I am attempting -- by calling those who say, "But the Bible says..." to go back and engage more deeply with the text, and see that their case is based on a faulty or incomplete reading. It isn't so much that Scripture isn't a rule book -- but that the misapplication of rules, or the rules intended for a specific context being misapplied in another -- is where the challenge lies for those particular people.

And my ultimate appeal is to the moral Law that Jesus himself presented as the solution to all moral questions.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I hope that in our engaging with Scripture we don't forget the radical assertion about the Truth, i.e., that the Truth is not a set of propositions, but a Person. Knowing the Truth fully is, therefore, never possible this side of the Last Day. Jesus is a mystery - the Mystery - not to be solved like a whodunit, but to be contemplated.

Anonymous said...

Tobias—

In your summary, you proclaim the following:

“I believe the church has made such movement on other issues, coming to accept and even endorse things condemned in Scripture, and to forbid things commanded there. I argue for applying the same "weights and measures" in examining the question of same-sex relationships.”

I was just wondering what in your mind those “weights and measures” are…or should be. Fairly long-standing hermeneutical principles have been brought to bear on most of these discrepancies. Most of the “changes” have to do with one level or another of adiaphora…minor topics where Scripture doesn’t speak with a conclusively clear voice.

Sometimes, as in the Reformation, mistakes have been rectified…the church has, in effect, returned to Scripture. Those mistakes (what I call below invalid adaptations to culture) cannot be taken as an impetus for valid future change.

When it comes to same-sex marriage and ordination, we have an entirely de novo concept. I tend to believe you have the “burden of proof” (though I realize you are loathe to take it up) to show that SSM is not an innovation. I would thus think you would have to show NOT that Scripture never distinctly condemns homosexuality (heck, it never distinctly condemns pedophilia), but that it actually somehow ADVOCATES the practice.

I have catalogued some of the possible issues you were referring to. This is not intended to be anywhere near complete. It’s just off the top of my head. One could write numerous volumes on the topic, so these comments are necessarily sketchy and brief.

I have included rudimentary commentary in italics. I’d be very surprised if you couldn’t pick it apart as it stands. This is just a bare bones description. Where do you find your major conflicts with traditional hermeneutics or with my seat-of-the-pants analysis?

(I glanced through the section on discontinuities from your paper entitled “Lawfully Joined,” and will have to add mixed marriages to the mix (as well as, I suppose, miscegenation). I surely don’t believe mixed marriages should be endorsed—and thus not celebrated in the church—but marrying only “in the Lord” does not appear to rise to the level of command. Rules against miscegenation would fall under the same rubric as ethnocentrism. I’ll try to give the above article a more thorough going over. Perhaps you have already given some answers to my questions.)

As a whole, this post is too long, so I’ll break it in two and send the rest separately.

—Peshat

Anonymous said...

Tobias--

Here is the second post I promised:

Changes in Church Attitudes towards Scriptural InjunctionsI. Scripturally endorsed but not generally followed anymore:(Endorsement here does not rise to the level of command except perhaps for “c” which is treacherously difficult to parse: Does it refer to veils or long hair? What on earth does “exousia” refer to? And what does “because of the angels” mean?)a. Kiss of peace
b. Foot washing
c. Head coverings for women

II. Presently followed though not scripturally commanded:(In general, these are adiaphora, as they do not conflict with clear teaching from Scripture, though “d” and “e” may.)a. Infant baptism
b. Sunday as the day set aside for worship
c. Specific polities and liturgies (Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc)
d. Veneration of BVM, Invocation of Saints, Clerical celibacy, etc (Catholics)
e. Avoidance of alcoholic beverages (Fundamentalists and some Evangelicals)

III. Scripturally commanded but now forbidden:(These are dealt with in the compromise of Acts 15 and in the teachings of both Jesus and Paul where OT ritual and law are either fulfilled or spiritualized. Paul abrogates “e” in Galatians 3:28.)a. OT dietary, and purity laws
b. OT ritual [temple sacrifice, circumcision]
c. Levirate marriage
d. OT genocide of neighboring tribes
e. Ethnocentrism

IV. Scripturally condemned but now accepted:(The first one—1 Peter 3:3-4— is difficult, but I have always felt that it emphasizes inward beauty rather than condemning outward adornment: just as Ephesians 5:18 probably emphasizes spiritual filling rather than proscribing all drunkenness. The next two are difficult to reconcile with Paul’s general abandonment of kashrut and are—rightly or wrongly—ignored. The following pair are invalid adaptations to current culture…though Scripture does allow certain exceptions to divorce restrictions. Remarriage is dicier…I believe the prohibitions are from the OT, and grace applied to a sin which cannot be taken back —when the ex-spouse has remarried—perhaps makes remarriage allowable “because of the hardness of our hearts.” I’m not sure the next three could ever pass exegetical “muster.” And the last one, in the few places where it has been accepted, has that acceptance on account of cultural change.)a. Ornamented hair
b. Eating strangled meat
c. Eating meat with the blood still in it
d. Divorce [and Remarriage]
e. Premarital sexuality (some Mainlines)
f. Illegitimacy?
g. Tattooing?
h. Contraception?
i. Incest? [Incest is no longer a criminal offense in Brazil, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. Sweden already permits half-siblings to marry.]

V. Scripturally forbidden but now endorsed:(The first three are invalid adaptations to cultural change. Comparing the loaning of money to friends and neighbors at interest in the ANE to modern credit-based business and industry is a bit like comparing apples to orang--…um…Zambonis.)a. Women’s ordination (Mainlines and Charismatics)
b. Same-sex ordination and marriage (Liberals)
c. Open communion (Liberals)*
d. Lending at interest [usury]

* possibilities of anti-scriptural cultural adaptation from the past might include the temperance movement and race-based slavery

VI. Scripturally allowed but now condemned:(Not one of these was ever set as an ideal, so progress does not contradict Scripture.)a. Autocratic government
b. Slavery
c. Polygamy
d. Ephebophilia (marital)
e. Arranged marriage?
f. Prostitution (in some cases) and incest (in some cases…e.g., marriage to half-siblings)

I’m not sure what I think (biblically) about the possible future legal reinstatement of polygamy. Missionary groups in Africa have made compromises with it for a very long time. It’s far from ideal, but it’s never clearly biblically proscribed. I’m not sure, however, that I have ever heard of churches actually blessing such unions….—By his Word…and in his Love,

—Peshat

Anonymous said...

Tobias,

Sorry about the long posts. They are mainly to you anyway, so feel free to edit them.

I was quite heartened by this comment of yours:

"In the long run, I think a close examination of the Scriptural text, and the record of how the church has dealt with portions of that text through its history, is a very profitable way forward-- exactly the kind of transcending the particular in order to serve the greater needs of the Gospel."

May your tribe increase!

--Peshat

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Peshat, I go into some detail about this in the book. Rather than hash it out in comments, I commend it to your attention.

The equal weights and measures issue is that one can use the same hermeneutics -- not a special one -- to find support for same-sex unions.

The fact that things which are clearly condemned in scripture later become adiaphora is in fact part of the question -- what is the process by which this happens, as it surely does. I examine a number of these at greater length in the book. And it isn't because the Scripture doesn't speak clearly or with a single voice, but based on several important principles, one of which is that things that were forbidden in a certain era and to certain ends may not be forbidden in another.

As to the burden of proof, I think it is having its slow impact. I suspect we may, some of us, live to see a broader acceptance of same-sex marriage in churches other than those that have already accepted it, to say nothing of the state. And FWIW, I think the scripture does attest positively to same-sex marriage. You'll have to read the book if you want to learn more along those lines.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Peshat,
Thanks for the long and detailed summary. I take up a number of these matters at some great length in the book. I would quibble with you on a few points. (For instance, I think the 26+% APY interest on credit cards would be recognizable to an ANEasterner as usury!)

One thing I don't get into in the book, but which is an interesting test case is that matter of women's head covering. Note that Paul's case establishes it as a "creation ordinance" and part of the law of nature -- and as it can hardly be harmful, what reason can there be to be rid of the requirement?

Under your section III I add sabbath observance, which was commanded in the Torah (and violation was a capital offense) but forbidden by the early church as "Judaizing."

You are right to question mark contraception. It is definitely not condemned in Scripture. (Jewish law in fact commends it in certain circumstances.) And not all forms of incest are scripturally condemned.

I think it is very important to be aware just how much the culture is responsible for many of the changes that take place. To dismiss it as if it didn't exist and have impact is, I think, a grave misunderstanding of the dynamics of how religion develops and adapts over time. The history of marriage itself is replete with such changes. Even the movement towards monogamy in the Christian church is plainly related to interactions with Greek and Roman civil law, as it was demonstrably in the eventual disallowance of polygamy for [some] Jews in the 10th Century, as an explicit accommodation to living in a non-Jewish culture.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting list, to which I will no doubt refer. Given the number of items, I am tempted to join with Heraclitus in observing Panta rhei.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Got your book this morning in the post!

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks for the news, GK-S. Hope you enjoy it!

On a related note, someone asked me to remind readers they can post reviews at Amazon.com...

Anonymous said...

Tobias--Actually, I more than agree with you that predatory lending practices can be legitimately described as usury. I am overjoyed to see Congress begin to reign in consumer credit card companies. (Also, places like "Rent-a-Center" clearly soak the poor.)

That's why I specifically noted "business and industry" whose size and complexity virtually require lending at interest. (The only consumer debt in that category may be home mortgages.)

Along with you, I don't feel the church has taken "head covering" legislation seriously. I just think it's unclear what is being legislated...and to what purpose. (It may be a case where dynamic equivalents could prove helpful.)

As for sabbath observance, I'm not at all sure it was given up in the apostolic period. Both Jesus and Paul seem to have continued it...along with the major Jewish pilgrimage feasts.

As for the change in early church sabbatarian practice, this appears to be based more on out-and-out anti-Semitism than on fears of "Judaizing."

Though Greek and Roman norms may have hastened polygamy's demise, it is clear that monogamy is the Hebraic and biblical ideal. Both the relationship of God to Israel and the relationship of Christ to the Church are depicted as monogamous. (And both as man/woman, husband/bride.)

I cannot see that the flexibility of wedding rituals in any way negatively impacts the monolithic nature of Christian marriage as involving opposite genders.

I'm glad to see you say we need to use the same hermeneutics. But does the possibility actually exist of agreeing on one? Much of the difficulty in dialogs concerning biblical authority is that they are meaningless without hermeneutical concord. I'm not at all sure you are using classical principles in reaching your conclusions, but it is nice to know you at least want to.

I do not believe anything condemned by the whole of Scripture has ever legitimately become adiaphora. (And I will be glad to refrain from eating strangled meat if you will cease advocating for SSM.)

Divine revelation that changes is not divine. It may be applied differently according to changes in time and culture. It may be viewed more clearly over time due to the cumulative teaching of the Holy Spirit (and to me the only valid "development of doctrine" would be in the area of greater clarity or focus). But it may not change in and of itself without totally negating itself. It would no longer be divine. The Word of God written cannot substantively change and remain the Word of God.

I take it you feel the tenet of monogamy is more clearly seen when it includes same-sex couples under its umbrella. I think you can only get there by turning a blind eye to Judaic and biblical sexual norms which were never abrogated.

I would probably oppose the normalization of homosexual activity even if there were no biblical mention of it in either testament. Not because I'm committed to some anti-gay agenda but because Scripture uniformly opposes sexual immorality ...and homosexuality was uniformly opposed from the Tannaim on down to Maimonides (and through to the present day in Orthodox Jewish circles) as sexually immoral.

Neither Jesus nor Paul have anything positive to say to counterbalance or overturn these cultural norms.*

For Heraclitus, perhaps it's true that "everything changes." But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Gods blessings,

--Peshat

*The biblical (and Orthodox Jewish) injunction against sex during menses I would deem to concern ritual purity rather than sexual immorality though you may wish to take me to task on that.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Peshat,

I address most of what you assert here in my book. You are simply factually mistaken on a number of points, and in others rely on your own hermeneutic (which appears to me to consist largely of looking at scripture through your own or the tradition's prejudices. That would certainly explain some of your errors and/or choices here.)

As an example of the first: the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel both picture the relationship of God with the people of God as polygamous -- and incestuous to boot (married to the sisters Israel and Judah).

As an example of the second, I will simply say that your closing footnote reflects a very cavalier attitude towards one verse in Leviticus 18, while you seem to insist on a stringent reading of another. It is precisely in determining which verses refer to matters capable of "normalization" and which don't that is at work; though some objective standard (rather than a prejudice or merely traditional assertion being applied). On what objective grounds, for example, do you determine that the law concerning menses is about "ritual purity" -- even if one accepts the reformation concept that the laws of Holiness (to use the proper term) do not apply to Christians? How does one pick which of the Holiness regulations apply and which don't? I offer several answers in my book.

Finally, let me just add that as far as Jesus goes, I think same-sex relationships are capable of fulfilling the Law as he summarized it. It is on that basis, and that alone, that we should be discussing the matter. This is the proper hermeneutic, as Augustine said ages ago: any reading of the Scripture which neglects the law of the love of God and neighbor is a false reading.

And it sometimes takes the church a very long time to realize it has made mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Tobias--

So, I use my own system or possibly that of a tradition, do I? And what type of a hermeneutical system do you use? Your own or that of a tradition? (Is their actually another choice to be made?) As to my prejudices, how exactly do you wish me to differentiate these from honestly objective conclusions? How do you go about it? (Because--as you might surmise--to my mind, most of your innovative conclusions smack of cultural adaptation and personal prejudice.)

The examples in Jeremiah and Ezekiel are clearly conceits not meant to be taken literally. Ch. 3 of Jeremiah starts out by restating the law that divorced women cannot return to their husbands...and then later bids faithless Israel to do just that...return. As you yourself stated, this is not only a polygamous relationship but an incestuous one. Evidently, in your view, God is breaking his own laws left and right here.

Could it be that, unlike nations, people cannot split in half?

All I see is that in some sense, God is monogamously continuing the covenant with the ten northern tribes together with the southern two.

I will withhold judgment on the proclamation of your own "objective" standards until I know more of what they are. Traditions claim their own "objective" standards. And I will not relegate my own system to the "subjective" category without a fight.

My categorization of sex during menses was by no means cavalier. It's a fairly standard designation. You cannot begrudge me that before presenting your own criteria. (For that I will refer to your book.)

Personally, I would actually have a much harder time knowing what to do with masturbation. Though there is no direct biblical injunction against it, Jewish tradition--until recently--has rather unanimously (and strenuously) opposed it.

At this point, I do not feel same-sex relationships are capable of fulfilling the Two Great Commandments, except from an entirely humanistic viewpoint.

(I think you are misinterpreting what the "love of God" consists of...and are subjugating it to the "love of neighbor.")

Sometimes the church has "corrected" that which was never mistaken.

Have a great day!

--Peshat

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Peshat,
It is a bit confusing posting comments to two different but similar posts. I have addressed some of what you say here at the other post.

I do not doubt you have some sort of system in mind as you engage with Scripture -- I just can't tell what it is from what you write here. As I suggest at the other post, if you could explain it -- or point me to your own writings on the subject -- it would help. The table of changes you provided upstream is helpful (though I have a few quibbles about a few of the placements of items), but it offers no clue to a system by which you might think the decisions reached are right or not.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that, for example, you place the "sex during menses" in the category of "ritual purity" even though it is classed as an offense similar to male same-sex sex by Scripture. I agree, and say, male same-sexuality is a matter of ritual purity. The problem is that some say the former is a purity matter, but the latter is moral. I know people do that -- but by what standard? That is the question.

I think that same-sex relationships are capable of fulfilling the two great commandments, from the perspective of Jesus -- that is, in accord with the moral principles he enunciated. For my understanding of those principles, you will have to take a look at the book...

Peace,
Tobias