Adapted from this LibraryThing thread.
I happen to think the moral strictures, at least, of the Bible are on the whole pretty darn clear, as opposed to being, you know, valent, whether multi, poly, bi (not that there’s anything wrong with it), tri, or any other variation on same: Do not murder, do not have sex with someone else’s spouse, lay off of worshipping big wooden statues, don’t lie with beasts, and don’t lie (if you’re a male) with other males (especially if they’re angels and especially if it’s non-consensual).
In one sense, I agree with this, in that I'm distrustful of the project which claims we can apply a conservative hermeneutic to Scripture and still get liberal conclusions--the What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality project, where it seems to be conceded that the Bible could condemn homosexuality, but it's a contingent fact that it doesn't. Whew! What a relief. [On the flist, I know that hermionesviolin is a big proponent of this view. Sorry, Elizabeth. --ed.]
But I'm not sure that "clear" and "multivalent" are actually mutually exclusive. It seems to me possible that a certain reading could be clear and at the same time God could be using it to say or do something completely different than the "clear" reading suggests. If one finds evolving revelation problematic, then the fact that God seemingly eschews being clear could be problematic. But since my faith commitments (which are fairly orthodox in this respect at least) don't lead me to do so, the problem disappears.
It seems to me "clear" and "multivalent" measure different things; the former measures plausibility (which I think the religionist by virtue of being a religionist has already abandoned [another point I think Elizabeth would disagree with me on--ed.]) and the latter possibility (which is the space in which religion thrives).
Leviticus is pretty explicit on male homosexuality: "don't do it." But as liberal apolgists are probably too prone to point out, it's in a list that also forbids wearing polyester. Is the doctrine of dispensationalism which supposedly frees us from the polyester rule something read into the Bible, or a direct exegesis of the New Testament? I don't pretend to know. Is the division between ethical and non-ethical rules that exempts the homosexuality clause from dispensationalism exegetical or eisegetical? Again, I don't know. I don't think there's a right answer. (Well, actually, I'm fond of "It's all eisegetical.")
But what I'm left with is that the Bible never says anything simply; interpretation is always required. We don't get very far before my "obvious" reading and your "obvious" reading no longer line up very well.
I don't want to deny that the "condemnation of homosexuality" reading is the most intuitive one. I don't know if this fact says more about us (and what we find intuitive) or Scripture, but to deny it would be disingenuous. All I'm trying to claim is that alternate readings are valid. Which reading we choose will say a lot about who we are as Christians, obviously.
Now, it may be that there are texts that, as modern thinking Christians, we might decide are so inherently problematic that they can't possibly be part of God's Word. I won't rule it out completely. But such a move should only be made as a last possible resort, I think; as long as there are ways to constructively re-vision our understanding of a passage, that should be the preferable route.
Scripture, as compiled under the watchful eye of Mother Church, is important because it is, not solely but nonetheless very importantly, what we as Christians draw on and look back to as part of what defines us. But this is a wrestling with God, not a list of directives. Penuel, not Sinai.
I think we need to be honest about this, and admit that our interpretations are born as much from our moral commitments (both personal and communal--and we cannot forget that Mother Church, fractured and divided as she is*, is guided by the Holy Spirit) as they are from any type of straight, direct exegesis. (These commitments are not prior to our interpretation of Scripture, but rather in constant unending dialect with it.) But I also believe that that's the only game in town.[This brings us to Alixtii's peculiar brand of meta/ethics.--ed.]
[*Yes, there's gendered language there. There's something in the gendered language which I think is particularly effective at conveying a particular (Anglo-Catholic) understanding of the composition of the Church. At the same time, all that bride of Christ stuff is so deeply problematic from a feminist viewpoint. Still at the same time, I didn't actually mention any of that bride of Christ stuff, nor would I ever (although I do refer to the Church as "His Church" upthread), just a positive feminine embodiment of a religious concept, and stripping our religious language of positive feminine embodiments of religious concepts is problematic in its own right. I still don't know how I feel about it all, except that there's part of me that feels really comfortable talking about Mother Church.--ed.]
Adapted from this LibraryThing thread.