Friday, May 06, 2005

THE SHELLFISH ARGUMENT

Shrimp here:

One friend you human have is guy in church next door. Best friend biblically orthodox ELCA human has is biblically orthodox ECUSA human. Good one to know is at Titus One Nine


Found this there. Speaks for itself:

THE SHELLFISH ARGUMENT

DEAR ():

THANK YOU FOR THIS POST, IT BRINGS UP A CASE THAT IS APPEARING OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH'S DEBATE. I CALL IT THE SHELLFISH ARGUMENT: YOU HAVE NOTED THAT LEVITICUS IS AGAINST SAME SEX PRACTICE, BUT LEVITICUS SAYS WE SHOULD NOT EAT SHELLFISH. SO HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY LISTEN TO LEVITICUS?

SO FOR EXAMPLE BISHOP MAZE: "ANOTHER PART OF THE VERY SAME CODE, LEVITICUS 11:9-11, USES THE SAME STRONG LANGUAGE CALLING THE EATING OF SHELLFISH AN ABOMINATION. YET, MOST HAVE NOT GIVEN UP SEAFOOD DELICACIES, NOR DO WE WORRY MUCH ABOUT THIS ABOMINATION. SO, ANOTHER TOOL WE HAVE AVAILABLE IS TO ASK HOW MODERN THOUGHT MIGHT AFFECT HOW WE READ ANCIENT CODES. WE KNOW MORE
ABOUT SHELLFISH (AND LOTS OF OTHER FOOD THAT IS CONDEMNED IN THIS CODE) THAN OUR HEBREW ANCESTORS COULD HAVE KNOWN AND SO WE'RE BASICALLY COMFORTABLE IN ADDING THAT TO OUR INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE."

THEN IN THE CASE OF ()'S POST: "THE VICAR ASKED THE MEN IN THE CONGREGATION IF THEY HAD EVER WONDERED WHAT TO DO WHEN THEIR DAUGHTERS HAD THEIR FIRST PERIOD. WOULD THEY GO TO THE BIBLE FOR ADVICE? HE THEN PARAPHRASED THE RULES FOUND IN LEVITICUS 15, V. 19-24. OR WOULD THEY PREFER THE READER'S DIGEST FAMILY MEDICAL GUIDE'S COUNSEL (WHICH HE QUOTED VERBATIM), ESSENTIALLY TO OFFER LOTS OF TLC."

SO MUCH FOR LEVITICUS, APPARENTLY. THE PROBLEM IS THIS DOESN'T EVEN PASS MUSTER FOR A FIRST YEAR COLLEGE LOGIC CLASS, MUCH LESS GET AT THE COMPLEXITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE SCRIPTURAL ARGUMENTS.

BEHIND IT IS A POWERFUL ASSUMPTION, THAT OF CHRONOLOGICAL SNOBBERY, A FAVORITE PHRASE OF CS LEWIS AND OWEN BARFIELD. HERE IS ONE WEBSITE SUMMARY:

"CHRONOLOGICAL SNOBBERY IS THE PRESUMPTION, FUELED BY THE MODERN CONCEPTION OF PROGRESS, THAT ALL THINKING, ALL ART, AND ALL SCIENCE OF AN EARLIER TIME ARE INHERENTLY INFERIOR, INDEED CHILDLIKE OR EVEN IMBECILIC, COMPARED TO THAT OF THE PRESENT. UNDER THE RULE OF CHRONOLOGICAL SNOBBERY, THE WEST HAS CONVINCED ITSELF THAT "INTELLECTUALLY, HUMANITY LANGUISHED FOR COUNTLESS GENERATIONS IN THE MOST CHILDISH ERRORS ON ALL SORTS OF CRUCIAL SUBJECTS, UNTIL IT WAS REDEEMED BY SOME SIMPLE SCIENTIFIC DICTUM OF THE LAST CENTURY". IT HAS BECOME TO BELIEVE THAT "ANYTHING MORE THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OLD IS ANCIENT" AND "IN THE WORLD OF BOOKS, OR OPINIONS ABOUT BOOKS, THE AGE AT WHICH SENILITY SETS IN HAS NOW BEEN REDUCED TO ABOUT TEN."

ONE WOULD LIKE TO ASK HOW PERVASIVE THIS ATTITUDE IS IN THE WHOLE OF MAINLINE CHRISTIANITY IN THE WEST, NOT JUST THIS DEBATE, BUT THAT IS A DISCUSSION FOR ANOTHER TIME.

AS FOR THE CASE ITSELF, IT FALLS APART QUICKLY ONCE YOU QUOTE THE SUMMARY OF THE LAW WHICH STILL IS USED IN MANY RITE I SERVICES IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND IT ENDS...

"YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF"

WHICH IS OF COURSE A QUOTE FROM... LEVITICUS!

SO THE TROUBLE IS THAT THERE ARE CONTINUITIES AND DISCONTINUITIES BETWEEN THE TWO TESTAMENTS, AND SIMPLY POINTING OUT THAT THERE IS A DISCONTINUITY IN THE AREA OF SPECFIC FOOD PRACTICE, DOESN'T MEAN THAT IN THE AREA OF TEACHING SEXUAL MORALITY THERE ISN'T A CONTINUITY. LEVITICUS IS ALSO POWERFULLY AGAINST LYING. INDEED, MUCH OF IT IS AN EXTENDED AND IMPORTANT COMMENTARY ON THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. SO IS THE TEACHING ON SEXUALITY LIKE SHELLFISH OR IS IT LIKE LYING OR "LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF"?

OF COURSE THIS ARGUMENT IS ABOUT A WHOLE LOT MORE THAN LEVITICUS, IT IS ABOUT A BROAD RANGE OF SCRIPTURAL MATERIAL, THE HISTORY OF HOW IT HAS BEEN UNDERSTOOD BY THE CHURCH AND INTERPRETED, AND WRESTLING THROUGH CONTEMPORARY COMPLEXITIES AND CLAIMS. BUT ONE AT LEAST HOPES THAT SPECIOUS CASES LIKE THIS WILL SEE LESS PRESENCE THAN THEY HAVE IN RECENT YEARS, AND ONE HOPES THAT ALL THOSE WHO ARE SO EAGER TO CALL THE BIBLE INTO QUESTION REALIZE THAT THEIR MINISTRIES ARE BASED IN PART ON THE BIBLE CALLING THEM AND THEIR PARISHES INTO QUESTION.

NO WONDER KARL BARTH ONCE SAID: EXEGESIS, EXEGESIS, AND MORE EXEGESIS!

DR. KENDALL S. HARMON

http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/

3 comments:

Mwalimu Daudi said...

Good post! It got me to thinking about a response that I wrote to one of your previous posts. In it I said that certain theologians resemble lawyers trying to get their guilty clients released through technicalities.

My response was too harsh towards real lawyers. Most bishops and many theologians of the ELCA are actually better described as jailhouse lawyers. A jailhouse lawyer may have no real knowledge of the legal system (except what can be gleaned from ending up on the wrong side of the law), but can talk like a law professor. Bravado combined with lungpower is the key.

I believe that the jailhouse lawyer model best describes the modus operandi of the ELCA's present leadership. The script is old and the lines are not particularly imaginative. Pontificate about the abysmal scientific ignorance and backwardness of opponents of gay marriage. Decry the appalling injustice and unfairness of the whole debate. Work in the word "unloving" at every opportunity. Treat every criticism as a full-scale nuclear assault on the unity of the ELCA. And never, EVER, mention Matthew 19:4 or anything else Jesus actually said about marriage or sin.

Shrimp said...

You right! You know humans funny. Is it true they say President Clinton did it (whatever it was he did with poor Monica--as paul says, "it is too shameful to speak of, BUT there's that sexual bahaviour thing again)BECAUSE HE COULD?

Ironic that ELCA has Clintonite PB who is trying to make legal behaviours which can lead to tragedy for many IF they are "affirming relationships."

Bill and Monica affirmed each other, didn't they?

May sound stupid, but if humans cannot see how slippery this slope is, ELCA humans may never be able to take stand, until they have to take the stand in court.

Eli said...

How slippery does this get? If the gender of people in a relationship is arbitrary, then certainly the number involved is as well. I mean, 2 is just soooo restrictive! What does it matter as long as it is committed?

Indeed, if my math skills are up to snuff don't you need at least 4 in a relationship of committed bisexual folks(that would be the "B" in GLBT)? That is, if you want them to be able to reach their fully gifted potential? To deny them that is awfully exclusionary and bigoted, obviously. Right?

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