Monday, October 11, 2010

Tricia Dykers Koenig, "Because of Scripture and Theology": The soul of the Church at risk

Tricia Dykers Koenig, National Organizer for the Covenant Network, has written three articles under the series title, “Why We Repeatedly Revisit G-6.0106b (and Will Continue to Do So Until It’s Amended).” The second article is entitled “Because of Scripture and Theology.”

Koenig explains how she interprets the Bible’s commandments against homosexual sex. She also addresses theological views about God’s nature and grace and how her views affect her understanding of homosexual activity. As the debate is not new her points are not new. However, they should be taken seriously. The soul of the Church is at risk because some of Koenig's ideas have significant meaning since both mainline denominations and the nation are turning towards an unbiblical morality.

I also write that Koenig’s views are significant because I believe there is some truth in what she writes. I explain below. As usual, among those who advocate for the ordination of practicing LGBT persons, Koenig believes that the homosexuality condemned in the scriptures is either exploitative sexuality or cultic sexuality. She mentions the actions in Sodom as an example of exploitive and sees laws on what is unclean as well as idol worship involving sexuality as cultic.

She also goes on to assert that the Bible simply reflects the cultural attitudes of its time, and then points to the tenth commandment to suggest that in that commandment women are seen as property. Koenig believes such a view should change the reader’s viewpoint about how to see scripture. One tosses out the idea that women are property (since that is cultural) but keeps the timeless principle that people should not covet. As Koenig puts it:

Our guidelines for biblical interpretation involve figuring out which timeless principles underlie particular biblical provisions, then applying those principles to our circumstances.

But the Bible is not about timeless principles but rather it is the story of God and his amazing redemption of his people through the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. Within that story the commandments of God are important. They bring us to God by showing that we are unable to live up to them. A school master, Paul calls them. They also guide us in our walk as those redeemed, as does the entire Bible. So looking at that last commandment it is coveting that is addressed with a very definite “Thou shall not.”

Therefore, property or not, a man’s wife and a woman’s husband should not be coveted. The commandments of God bring us to God and guide us as we walk with Jesus.

In the same manner, in Leviticus 18:22 a man lying with another man is also a “shall not.” And both Lev 18: 22 and Lev 20:13 are set in the midst of texts that deal with sexual immorality within family relationships and also murderous idolatry that involves families. The truth is, Koenig is partly right, all of the sexual sins are exploitive simply in the sense that families, individuals and communities are brought to ruin.

And just as in the same passages, sacrificing children to the idol Molech is forbidden and is cultic in nature (a part of religious ritual and devotion) although it has to do with parents and families, so homosexual sex in this text may be cultic with out changing the fact that it is between consenting adults. To clarify, it is cultic in the sense that life among those communities which do such things takes on a cultic nature in that all that is unnatural is lifted up and seen as a sacred part of daily living.[1]

And this is easily seen in Romans chapter 1 where God, because of idolatry, gives humanity over to their degrading passions, which includes gay and lesbian sex. The text goes on to list many, many sins which are not sexual in nature. They are all a sign of the rejection of God and his word. However, homosexual sex is listed first and connected to the worship of that which is not God.

Koenig next gives some rather illogical thoughts concerning intimate relationships. She suggests that because the Bible tells of marriages among the ancient patriarchs which consisted of more than one wife and/or concubines God’s plan for marriage did not center on only monogamous relationships between one man and one woman. But Jesus bypasses the sinfulness of humanity and when speaking of marriage goes back to creation.

Although Jesus is speaking about divorce he nonetheless is speaking of marriage:

And he answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate(Matt 19:4-6).

Koenig attempts to reverse the words of Jesus by suggesting that when Adam exclaimed about Eve “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken,” he meant Eve was his kin. And Koenig uses the words of Laban to his nephew Jacob as proof. (Genesis 29:14) But to insist on Koenig’s interpretation is to ignore the words of Jesus. Jacob and Laban did not become one flesh.

And further, we know that when God states that he is giving Adam a helpmate the word is the same one used of God when he is a helper to us. And while this elevates Eve’s job description it does not elevate her to Godhood. Neither was Eve ever able to help Adam in the same way God was able. Laban’s exclamation to Jacob does not, in the context of the passage, carry the same meaning that Adam’s does.

At the end of this particular section Koenig attempts to negate God’s commands with the use of God’s grace. She writes that “even if one believes that the order of creation is proscriptive, Christ’s grace supersedes that order:” and then she quotes Galatians 3:24-28.

Here she is implying that because of God’s grace given as forgiveness and reconciliation, even if one believes that marriage between a man and a woman is God’s order, still it is alright to be in a same gender sexual relationship. In other words, because Christ has died for us we can go on living in habitual sin without repenting.

But Paul in another place in Galatians answers such an absurdity. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (5:16)” The problem is that Koenig is mixing up attempting to be made righteous by following the law, an impossible position, with a refusal to be transformed by the Holy Spirit through the life of Christ. Paul lists the deeds of the flesh which includes sexual immorality. And he lists the fruits of the Spirit which include self control and faithfulness. Biblically we are all called to walk by the Spirit.

Koenig lists nine “overarching themes” which she believes leads the Christian away from “treating LGBT persons as defective or less-than.” I will look at them in my next posting.

[1] In this context I suggest the book, Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice-Love, ed. Marvin M. Ellison and Sylvia Thorson-Smith. I am thinking of such chapters as “Gay Erotic Spirituality and the Recovery of Sexual Pleasure,” or “Receptivity and Revelation: A Spirituality of Gay Male Sex,” and “Embracing God as Goddess: Exploring Connections between Female Sexuality, Naming the Divine.”


Stushie said...

As always Viola, excellent work. I only wish more people would read this.

Viola Larson said...

Thanks Stushie. I am working on the next part but I am too wordy I need to start trimming.

Walter L Taylor said...

Thank you for your work and witness! You are one of the few who have the patience to wade through some much of this stuff for the benefit of the faithful. Thanks again.
Walter Taylor, Oak Island, NC

Patricia Slomanski said...

Thank you, Viola. As always we can depend on you to "tell it like it is." Your words are always straight to the point and on target. Thank you for your faithfulness in standing firmly against those behaviors which God's Word clearly states as unnatural and sinful.

Patricia Slomanski
Benson, N. C.