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The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis "Lou" Piel: God, sex and politics

I believe God created our sexuality. It was not Hugh Hefner of Playboy nor the editors of Cosmopolitan. God created us male and female and the Hebrew scriptures record the creator saying not only that it was "good" but "very good" (Genesis 1:31). While not a sacrament, I believe sex is sacramental in nature.

In recent articles the White House has been accused of making "war on the church" while others feel that the Tea Party has made "war on women." There has been intense politicization on several of these issues in addition to the debate on traditional versus gay marriage.

God told the humans to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28) and in many of our marriage ceremonies we find words inviting the couple "to procreate" which means the same thing. But is God saying that every time a couple has sexual relations they are to produce a child? Of course not! The sexual relationship of a committed couple is also for their "pleasure" and "mutual enjoyment." In a recent article in Christian Century the writers said words to the effect that on one level it's for bearing fruit and creating more life and liveliness in an often barren, death dealing world. And on another level, it's for strengthening the love and communion between two faithful caring partners - two levels that are related but are different.

Recently, I feel the White House made a mistake in telling religious groups that they themselves have to provide contraception for their employees. They rightly reversed this decision and said that insurance companies need to make contraception available for their employees. The offer needs to be available because freedom of religion means that women (or a couple) has a religious right to choose whether to avail themselves of artificial contraception or go another way.

There are serious health benefits in family planning. A recent article said that "100,000 women annually die in childbirth after unintended pregnancies and six hundred thousand babies born to women who didn't want to be pregnant die in the first month of life." For many who disagree with abortion the availability of contraception has become "public health necessity."

On another level the issue of "traditional marriage" and "gay unions or marriage" has once again occupied the spotlight. If God can create people who are heterosexual can God also create people who are homosexual?

In six key passages in the Bible that deal with homosexuality the scriptures condemn the practice in each one. The way one interprets or does exegesis on the passages is critical. For example, do the Genesis 19:4-5 verses really deal with "hospitality" and does Paul in the Romans 1:26-27 passage really deal with a prepubescent boy who had relations with a much older man, which was often the practice in the Roman culture at the time he was writing?

My faith tradition teaches me not only that the holy scriptures are "the book" but also "my book." I love the Bible and value its teachings. I believe the Bible has authority, is reliable and is true. At the same time I believe the scriptures were not written by God but by humans inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Inspired human believers wrote their faith story according to how they understood the world in their own day and it was essentially a pre-scientific view. Guided by our sacred scriptures how do we use modern science, medicine or even a world-view that might be radically different from the time when the scriptures were written?

Finally, I am deeply concerned how divisive issues like these have become in the community of faith. Just like politics in Washington, D.C., it is often "my way or the highway." Believers often talk at each other rather than to each other. We often only listen to views we agree with, not views that will stretch our minds and hearts and make us think and reason. We often condemn before we listen to another viewpoint. I believe for Christ-followers at the center of our faith is Jesus Christ. Is it possible that in the context of faith believers can "agree to disagree" - that is, to agree that there are different positions on serious issues and still remain in the Body of Christ? (I Corinthians 12:12-14). Can we still be "one in the Spirit" and believe we are not of one mind on these issues? I simply ask that you think on these things.

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