One Flock

Light-3 (1)

Christopher Benson reviews three "fresh and challenging" books on Christianity's reaction to homosexuality. His understanding of Oliver O’Donovan’s Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion is worth quoting:

O’Donovan limns the biblically acceptable identity: “Gays are children of Adam and Eve, brothers and sisters of Christ. There is no other foundation laid than that. ‘He will feed his flock like a shepherd’; from which it follows, simpliciter and without adjustment, that he will feed gays like a shepherd, too.” While acknowledging that “there are other, less fundamental senses to the concept of ‘identity’” and special needs in the flock, he cautions the church against exaggerated differences:

The gospel is addressed to human beings irrespective of their condition, and there is no prima facie place to dismember it into a series of gospels for discrete social sectors. Why would there by a gospel for the homosexual any more than a gospel for the teacher of literature, for the civil magistrate, or for the successful merchant (to name just three categories that the early church viewed with the same narrowing of the eyes that a homosexual may encounter today)?

It is for the church to address the good news, we may say; it is for the recipient—homosexual, pedagogue, politician or captain of industry—to hear it and to say how he or she hears it in and from this or that social position.

The challenge at the present moment, it seems to me, is for the church to develop a ministry of recognition, in which same-sex attracted persons are dignified—alongside others—as “beloved,” while avoiding a ministry of difference, where such persons are excused from integration, licensed to innovate beyond Scripture and tradition. Put differently, same-sex attracted persons should be grafted onto—not subtracted from—the one tree of Christ, nourished from that root (Rom. 11:11–24).

(Light painting by Simon Berger via Colossal)