Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In the Mail: Bible, Gender and Sexuality:Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships

I want to thank the kind people at Eerdmans for sending me a copy of James Brownson's Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships (Eerdmans, 2013). Here's the blurb.

In Bible, Gender, Sexuality James Brownson argues that Christians should reconsider whether or not the biblical strictures against same-sex relations as defined in the ancient world should apply to contemporary, committed same-sex relationships. Presenting two sides in the debate -- "traditionalist" and "revisionist" -- Brownson carefully analyzes each of the seven main texts that appear to address intimate same-sex relations. In the process, he explores key concepts that inform our understanding of the biblical texts, including patriarchy, complementarity, purity and impurity, honor and shame. Central to his argument is the need to uncover the moral logic behind the biblical text. Written in order to serve and inform the ongoing debate in many denominations over the questions of homosexuality, Brownson's in-depth study will prove a useful resource for Christians who want to form a considered opinion on this important issue.

 This is a book in which the author wants to try and hear both sides of the debate and say something to those on both sides as well. I began reading the book this past weekend and although I am only a hundred pages into it I have found it both challenging and thought provoking. In particular, the way he frames the creation story and how we interpret it is helpful. Brownson argues that the "one flesh" statement is not about how male and female join to "compliment" the genders, but to form a kinship bond. I am in currently reading his section on patriarchy in the New Testament. 

While I plan to give a fuller review of Brownson's work at a later date, I do commend him for his approach. Rather than jump into the contested texts that may or may not talk about same-sex relationships, he begins by laying the ground work for how we should understand the entire witness of scripture and then examines those passages. I have already, of course, found points where I disagree, wish he would go further or think that his argument is lacking if not unconvincing. Nonetheless, I think the spirit behind the book is one that needs to be encouraged and I hope it fosters a discussion about same-sex relationships that is not stuck on the same old arguments. 

1 comment:

  1. Scot McKnight has some things to say about the book as well - http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/03/12/the-brownson-challenge/