Let's pause there for a moment.
Now that's a sentence I've never written before.
But it is, after all, 2009.
So, let's start over.
I haven't been blogging for a while. I've got this day job as an Orthodox priest, and last week was the first week of Great Lent which means lots of additional services and lots of fasting, none of which leaves much time for messing with technology and none of which leaves much energy for sustained thought. But now it's the second week of Great Lent, and there are a couple of things that I want to write about. The first is the Jan/Feb Touchstone. Of course, you can read the entire issue and enjoy a couple of great cups of tea just by stopping by the bookstore, but, if you don't have time to get through the entire magazine, be sure and read the article "Phony Matimony" by Christopher Oleson. Mr Oleson teaches philosophy at the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum in Thornwood, New York. His article is about the current controversy over the definition of marriage, and he has some really important things to say about the way most conservatives approach the debate. Like this:
What traditionally minded defenders of life-long heterosexual couple hood are left to object to (when it comes to same sex marriage) is either that (1) homosexual behavior is "yucky" (an instinctual and, by itself, subrational repugnance) or (2) that the Bible simply happens to anathematize such behavior (as through God arbitrarily thundered prohibitions without reason and without reference to the goods which human nature is meant to realize). Neither one of these objections provides a rational understanding of why such behavior could be morally problematic or why God would forbid it. They are therefore not only justifiably open to the charge of being intellectually hollow, but constitute a recipe for a public routing in the marriage debate.
The truth of the matter is that the ultimate reason why homosexual acts are contrary to human nature--namely, that the violate the generative purpose of sexual union--is the same reason why contraceptive heterosexual activity is unreasonable behavior. They stand or fall together.
In other words, by embracing contraception in the 1960's, American Christianity paved the way for same-sex marriage in this century.
Of course, there's a whole lot more to the argument, and I'm still thinking about the import of it all, but I've seen this dynamic of unintended consequences at work in another issue that is troubling American Christianity--the ordination of active homosexuals. I was a United Methodist pastor for twelve years, and I was what was then called an evangelical or conservative. Like most conservative pastors in that denomination, I was fully supportive of women's ordination. I wasn't thrilled about the biblical gymnastics that it took to support such a view, but, without the resources of a broader tradition, it was almost impossible to construct a reasonable objection. But then the issue of the ordination of gays and lesbians came along, and I began to realize that the one issue was dependent on the other. That is, if sex wasn't an issue when it came to the ordination of women, then sex shouldn't be an ordination issue at all. Just about all of the conservative pastors I knew were blind-sided by that one. A lot of them eventually gave in on the issue of homosexual ordination; a few, like me, left the denomination (although I would hasten to add that the issue of gay and lesbian pastors was not at all the main reason for my decision); but most of these conservative pastors continue to fight a losing battle against the proponents of homosexual ordination. And they will eventually lose because they cannot remain United Methodists and oppose the ordination of women--but if they can't/won't oppose the ordination of women, then they cannot, with any degree of logic or even good conscience, oppose the ordination of gays and lesbians.
So, like I said, I haven't completely thought through all the implications of Oleson's article, but the dynamic he identifies is a real one: Truth is a unity, and you can't begin to tinker with it in one spot without eventually bringing down the entire structure.