He also—and this is not central to his argument, but appears to be essential to his opinion of himself—makes a repeated comparison of himself and his like-minded Christian friends to the brave leaders of the American civil rights movement a half century ago, and even to the martyred hero of Christian resistance to Nazism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.That is simply appalling, coming from a man who is now only in danger of being lionized, not fed to the lions, tortured and executed like Bonhoeffer, or attacked with dogs and firehoses.As readers can see, Gushee takes every step in his argument with a bias toward viewing same-sex attraction as natural and irresistible for those who experience it, toward viewing same-sex relationships as behaviorally and morally indistinguishable from a healthy marriage between a man and a woman, and toward viewing the divinely inspired authors of scripture as completely ignorant of these “stubborn facts.” He concludes that their biblical morality was therefore concerned only with the violent, exploitative homosexual conduct they knew about, which was all they knew about.
Gushee’s shallow theology is evident in his textual exegesis, which claims historical-linguistic warrant that real experts such as Robert Gagnon have challenged and debunked, but which also seems strangely free-floating and ahistorical in its detachment from the life of the early church and the revolution it effected in ancient Mediterranean society. blanket condemnation of same-sex love.” “For Paul,” Harper writes, “same-sex attraction symbolized the estrangement of men and women, at the very level of their inmost desires, from the creator.” The Christian revolution in sexual morality was bound up with its radical teaching on free will, an “acute concern with volition” that delivered a “liberating message of freedom” from sin.
As the classical scholar Kyle Harper has shown in his book From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity, the early church followed the lead of Paul in “radical opposition to all same-sex intercourse,” with an “unambiguous . “The protean energy of human desire resisted being corralled, but marriage, inexorably, became the only legitimate venue of erotic fulfillment.” For David Gushee to argue as he does that Paul and the early church simply failed to grasp ennobling erotic possibilities known to us today is to engage in the worst form of presentism, and condescending to the man whom the Lord knocked off his horse on the road to Damascus.
If healthy, natural same-sex relationships are a normal part of the human experience today, it stands to reason they would have been so in antiquity as well.
But the Bible contains not a single affirming portrait of a rightly ordered same-sex erotic relationship.
Taking the usual Bible passages each in turn, we can reread them in untraditional ways.