Option 3. Homosexuality ‘In the Shadow of Human Fallenness’: “Accommodation”
It has become increasingly clear that the homosexual orientation is not essentially a choice or an environmental production: It is more than an orientation because it roots in the personhood of the homosexual male or female. Human “genetics” not only accounts for the sexual distinction between male and female in a heterosexual person, but it is constitutive for the sexual identity of a homosexual person, male or female. Therefore, the activity of God in creation that accentuates the norm of male and female complementarity for the purpose of marriage and the reproduction of human offspring does not exclude the activity of God in the sexual identity of the homosexual person.. Although homosexuality does not fulfill the normative purpose of God in creation for human personhood, homosexuality is an unintended given in emergence of human life in the world. Using the criteria for human personhood in Genesis 2-3, homosexuality occurred in the creative working of God as an unwanted given that diverged from God’s intention in creation. A person who is constitutionally homosexual exhibits the disordering of God’s purpose in creation and ought to live out his or her life in a responsible fashion. Thus a gay or lesbian person exists through the creativity of God, but he or she is a recognizable “alteration” and not a perverse “deviation” from the life-giving work of God.
Advocates of accommodation are neither “welcoming but not affirming” or “welcoming and celebrating,” but they provide a place for homosexual persons into the fellowship and life of the church. However, accommodation cannot simply be equated with or construed as unqualified acceptance. Rather, accommodation is “accommodation,” making a place for one who would otherwise not have a place. This perspective understands homosexuality to be “a tragic distortion” of the intention of God in the “order” of creation. It is tragic, because it cannot fulfill the intention of God in the marriage of male and female into oneness or the blessing of child-bearing. The tragic element is inescapable in a heterosexual society (and church). Unlike other tragic elements that occur in life, the gay and lesbian persons experience the tragic inalterably in the definition of their sexual identity. While distinct and different from the specific intention of creation, the homosexual Christian is summoned to live his or her life in faithfulness and obedience to Christ…just as the heterosexual person. Against an isolation and loneliness devastating to human personhood, the homosexual Christian may choose a covenantal same-sex union within which to live out his or her gift of life. Such a same-sex union in form and essence remains nonetheless under the shadow of human fallenness.
The Christian community should accept the integrity of homosexual Christians and same-sex unions, demonstrating hospitality and compassion to their brothers and sisters who are homosexual. Since the heterosexual relationship of marriage remains normative, a homosexual union is admittedly less than God’s intention in creation, but nonetheless understandable. Thus Paul’s counsel to those who feel that they must marry and cannot remain single as he are permitted to marry (1 Corinthians 7:36-38)…permission that provides parallel counsel for those who are homosexual but who cannot remain celibate.
Advocates of accommodation recognize the difficulty of their “evaluation” of the issue of homosexuality and therefore homosexual persons within its congregational life. Yet the intention of genuine accommodation remains positive but recognizes limits. Perhaps one way to heighten the positive purpose in accommodation would be to characterize accommodation as “welcoming and accepting.” The language within the characterization of this attitude and perspective is quite different from and much more than “welcoming but not affirming.” Nevertheless, this viewpoint remains less than “welcoming and celebrating.” Option 3 entails a qualified acceptance that is nonetheless genuine and welcoming.
The great strength of this perspective is its inclusiveness: “Welcoming and Accepting” with the qualification of God’s purpose in creation does not exclude anyone. To be sure, “accepting” remains qualified on the basis of the norm of heterosexual marriage, but it is an accommodation, “accepting with qualification.”
Proponents of Option 3 stand inside the actual circumstances of Paul’s conception of authentic unity together in Christ that was a real possibility for the churches in Galatia: “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The essential identity of everyone in the Christian community on the basis of birth endures: Race and gender are givens. Paul’s solution in Galatians 3: 26-29 provides a situational option for a divided church to claim its unity in Christ.
NOTE: each of the four options posted are attempts to artuclate the perspectives on thier own terms and do not represent any particular individual’s view. Details can be found here.