The Bible, Christianity, & Homosexuality
The problem of homosexuality is among the most actively discussed questions in contemporary theology. It is possible to find thousands of books that argue whether homosexuals can be called Christians and that treat the citations from the Bible in the way that might show that it is not a sin at all. In the current paper the book by Justin R. Cannon The Bible, Christianity, & Homosexuality will be analyzed and compared to the basic principles of the Catholicism concerning the problem of homosexuality. The author, who is promoting the ideas of equality for LGBT Christians, makes another attempt to show that the Christian Church really teaches the same things with contemporary mass ideology, and homosexuality stops being a sin because it is the actively popularized lifestyle.
The main idea of the book is foregrounding the claim that according to the Holy Scripture, homosexual relationships are not condemned by the Christian religion. The author uses the examples of translations of certain notions that are important in understanding the Biblical passages and tries to prove that it is the wrong translation in modern English versions that made everyone think that homosexuality is condemned by God. For example, Cannon states that in the Hebrew and in the Greek languages in the times when the Bible was written there were no words that denote homosexuality in the contemporary sense. He gives evidences that this word was first used in the Holy Scripture in English only in 1946, in the Revised Standard Version, which is less than 100 years ago. As it was already mentioned, Cannon refers to the passages from the Bible to support the possibility of gay relationships in the context of the Christian faith. He uses the examples from the Leviticus 18:22, Genesis 1-2, Romans 1:24-27, Corinthians 6:9-10, Timothy 1:8-10, and Sodom1.
The interpretations of the Bible passages proposed by Cannon are original and support his claim that there is really nothing about homosexuality in the text. The author underlines that God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah not because men there wanted to rape the male angels who were visiting Lot. The main reason was that people were not hospitable, but not their sinful homosexual desires. Leviticus 18:22 does not accuse gay relationships, it shows the inadmissibility of the same sex prostitution. Romans 1:24-27 and Corinthians 6:9-10 do not suppose accusation of healthy and normal intercourse between the homosexual partners, as Connor writes. These examples are about the pederasty, the sexual relationships between children and adults.
Despite the fact that in Leviticus 18:20 there are certain words that God sees and accuses all kinds of sexual related sins like sodomy, bestiality, incest, and adultery, the apologetics of the homosexual relationships in general and Cannon in particular still claim that the chapter is about male prostitution. In the end of his argument, the author notes that it is even possible not to take the Old Testament into account, because the contemporary Christian doctrine is based mainly on the New Testament and the words of Jesus Christ. In his turn, Jesus said nothing directly against sodomy.
Critical Interaction with the Book
It is necessary to take into consideration the background of Justin R. Cannon as the person and the priest in order to understand the theological and biblical perspectives from which he approaches the subject. Cannon is known to be the creator of a number of gay Christian web resources, among which are Rainbow Christians and and Inclusive Orthodoxy. He also belongs to the Episcopal Church, which is well known for its active actions in the movements for civil rights and progressive ideas concerning homosexuals2. Cannon himself is a public personality and among the titles the media gives him are the Future Gay Hero and one of the top 100 most influential homosexuals. All these aspect of Connan's biography explain the position he expresses in The Bible, Christianity, & Homosexuality.
The main goal the writer wants to achieve in his writing is to give the evidences from the Holy Scripture that the homosexuals can be called the faithful Christians and their inclinations do not suppose that they will be deprived of God's mercy. The author gives many examples from the Bible and interprets them in the way he considers to be the right one so that they fit into the main idea of the book.
It is possible to assume that Cannon proves his point of view concerning the question of Christianity and homosexuals. Though, his argumentation might be reasonable only for those readers, who wanted to believe in his ideas and who wanted to reassure in their vision of the issue from the beginning. From the point of view of traditional Christian doctrine, the book The Bible, Christianity, & Homosexuality lacks theological basis3. The interpretations Cannon uses to support his ideas are entirely subjective and in the majority of cases they contradict the Christian set of moral norms and constrains. Among the general arguments Cannon uses is the claim that Jesus Christ was not against homosexuals, because he said nothing about them in his lectures. There are no textual evidences in the New Testament that homosexuality is a sin. Though, it is absolutely illogical to think that if something is not prohibited directly, it is permitted. Jesus also said nothing about starting a day from a doze of cocaine, but it is evident for everyone that such behavior does not fit into the Christian life style.
The argumentation Cannon uses in his book was denied by a great number of theologians,especially the representatives of the traditional Roman Catholic Church. According to the Catholic doctrine, the sins are not equal in the eyes of God. There are mortal sins and venial sins4. According to the ideas of the Episcopal Church, there are no heavy or lesser sins, and so all people are sinners. Cannon, as the representative of the Episcopal Church, emphasizes that being homosexual is not worse than being arrogant, because God will forgive all the sinners. Cannon forgets to mention one important detail that only those sinners who repent will be forgiven. As it is evident from the position of Cannon and the entire LGBT Christian movement, they do not want to do it and they deny the idea that they are doing something that is not right in the eyes of God.
The argument in the book The Bible, Christianity, & Homosexuality has both strengths and weaknesses. Among the most important strengths of the book are the popular style of narration that makes the research easy to read, and the urgency of the theme. This explains the media resonance the book received after it was published. It is possible to find many praising reviews of this work in the popular news papers and thematic journal.
The review by McGough is good example that illustrates the way in which the book by Cannon is officially viewed. It was published in the Los Angeles Times and promotes the book as the guide for liberal Christians. There is nothing critical in McGough's review and the official position of the LGBT Christian movement is that they are totally right, but undemocratic fundamentalists always hide the truth from them, so they have to explain how liberal and accepting everything they are5. It is possible to find a great number of publications that try to give the Biblical evidences in the support of homosexual relationships. For example, the books by Matthew Vines God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships6 or Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality7 by Michael L. Brown give similar evidences that homosexuality and Christianity are really connected. It is necessary to note that the majority of popular religious books and theological articles that were published comparatively recently claim that it is not strange to combine the true Christian faith and homosexual practices, which fully illustrates the dominant liberal viewpoint. In my opinion, a pastor needs to understand the problem of homosexuality and its connection with Christian faith in order to be able to give a reasonable advice and to help those people, who ask for it.
Justin R. Cannon wrote his book The Bible, Christianity, & Homosexuality as an attempt to give Biblical evidences that homosexuality is not a sin and it does not prevent people from being faithful Christians. It is a popular style book and it targets wide audience that is not interested, in fact, in detailed analysis and theological evidences. Perhaps, those people want to reassure themselves one more time that they are doing nothing wrong by living with the same sex partner. From this perspective, the author achieved his purpose. As a Catholic, I disagree with all ideas written in this book. Cannon's argumentation seems to be absurd and subjective. In addition, I can view the problem of homosexuality only as unnatural perversion and moral disorder, that is popularized too actively in the contemporary society8. I do not think that homosexuals can not be faithful Christians. In a contrary, the faith an help them to get rid of this sin and to repent in this life style.