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Bridge Building and Homosexuality

November 18th, 2011 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Brian Hedges reflecting on my chapter on homosexuality, a chapter that I'm honestly surprised hasn't gotten more attention:

Reading this chapter reminded me of John Stott’s classic book on preaching,Between Two Worlds, where Stott suggests the metaphor of bridge-building as an illustration of the essential nature of preaching. Stott chose this image because he knew that preaching involves not just faithful exegesis and exposition of biblical texts but “the conveying of a God-given message to living people who need to hear it,” and because he recognized the chasm of a “deep rift between the biblical world and the modern world.” The temptation for the preacher, of course, is to short-circuit communication by failing to connect the “bridge” of communication to either of the sides of the chasm. Stott skewered both conservatives and liberals for this failure: the former because they were “biblical but not contemporary” and the latter because they were “contemporary but not biblical.”

I find that metaphor helpful here and think it summarizes well what Matt attempts to do in this chapter. On one hand, he affirms the need to speak about homosexuality with submission to the authority of Scripture and to align our thinking and practice with its ethical norms. (If we don’t consciously submit to Scripture, then some other authority – most often experience – will fill the lacuna.) But on the other hand, all of our discourse (both public and private, to both Christians and non-Christians, with both those who struggle and those who don’t) must be seasoned with sensitivity to the complexities of same-sex attraction, homosexual orientation, and gay identity (three related, but separate issues, not to be conflated), and compassion for those who struggle.

Read the whole thing.

P.S.  Travel and other obligations has put me behind on my writing, but I am hoping to have responses to the various recent posts up throughout the next week (taking Thanksgiving off), and then we'll close out the symposium after that.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.