Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Old Mill Questions -- Introduction

In the middle of the year of grace 2017, a collection of prominent conservative theologians released the Nashville Statement, intended to express their position on the purpose of human sexuality as divinely revealed in the Bible. This triggered the release of a number of statements, one called the Denver Statement and another called the Nazareth Statement, which diverged strongly from the views expressed in the Nashville Statement.

I have no statements to offer. I have no particular theological training, and I speak as an ordinary sheep of Christ’s flock, a sinner looking for redemption, a castaway looking for rescue. But I do have questions. Given the recent trend to identify statements geographically, I will refer to my questions with the name of the neighbourhood where I live: the “Old Mill” questions.

To begin with the basic question: do the commandments given to human beings include participation in an overall divine plan? Does the Bible articulate a “plan” of the Creator we can hope to further in any meaningful way? If we imagine the universe G-d has placed us in as a ship, do we have the task of steering the ship, or do we belong on the passenger decks, trusting the Creator of the Universe to steer its destiny? Does G-d charge us with any task but the vital and important task, of living into the Biblical commandments, with all our heart and all our strength?

The Gospels contain many complex and puzzling statements. In some passages, Jesus tells His students that when he makes statements difficult to understand, that is sometimes intentional. But in all the Gospels, Jesus makes very straightforward statements about the Law and how G-d expects us to understand and live it. The meaning of the Torah, all 613 commandments, expresses only two overriding commands to us: love G-d with all you are, and love your neighbour as yourself.

What does this mean in the context of human sexuality, and in particular, how does the law as Jesus commands us to live it guide our response to people with different sexual orientations from our own?

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