This appeared in a post from the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv:
ITæ‹… THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SURVIVAL
By Giles Fraser
Thereç—´ a biblical reason for obsession with sex
AFTER HIS engagement at Greenbelt, the US biblical theologian Ched Myers has spent a week with us in Putney. During his talks, the penny dropped for me.
After all this time thinking about homosexuality, I finally get why the Bible is apparently anti-gay.
The real obsession of the Hebrew scriptures isnç¨š about what people do in bed; thatç—´ a more modern fixation. What the scriptures are really concerned with is children. Just as Yasser Arafat once said that his secret weapon was “the Palestinian womb” (i.e. that the Palestinians are going to triumph through demographics), so, too, the people of ancient Israel were obsessed with their own survival. It makes sense.
Itç—´ how it all begins in Genesis. Noah being told by God to “be fruitful and multiply”, and Abram complaining that “I continue childless”, only to be blessed with descendants as numerous as the stars. Itç—´ why the Bible remains obsessed with barren wombs, eunuchs, and so on. What is going on here is the psychology and politics of survival, with the unproductive misrepresented best as useless and at worst as traitors.
Mr. Myers argues that much of the biblical argument about inclusively is played out over eunuchs. So, while the conservative Deuteronomy insists that “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted the assembly of the Lord” (23.1), the radically inclusive voice of third Isaiah sounds a different note.
“Do not let the eunuch say, é¸ am just a dry treeï¿½ For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and who choose the things that please me and hold fast to my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls a monument and a name that is better than sons and daughters” (56.3-5). Note: better than sons and daughters.
Isnç¨š this also the point of that otherwise baffling reading from Luke (14.26) that we had to squirm though on Sunday, about hating mothers and brothers and children for my sake? Mr. Myers reasons that the challenge offered here is a head-on way of facing a family-obsessed culture with the full consequences of the gospel. This is a gospel where all are welcome to the feast, irrespective of wealth, gender, ethnicity, or ability to contribute to the population.
What an important reading it could be at a time when the gospel of good news to all is in danger of being smothered by a self-satisfied family-friendly exclusivism, in which Christianity is mistaken for 1950s respectability.
The Revå£‡ Dr Giles Fraser is Team Rector of Putney, and lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford.