In the comments to the previous post, Matthias wrote:
All this crap about who sleeps where and who puts what in whom seem clearly to fall on the side of worldly matters that can be duly rendered unto Caesar–remember when they asked him about marriages in Heaven and Jesus told them that they had no idea what they were talking about?
This is what I meant when I worried about going in “a manichean direction where sex and spiritual matters are irrevocably separate.” Although manichean probably isn’t the right word. The Manichees apparently believe the flesh was evil; this just renders it irrelevant. Yet the belief that the body is an unholy object can lead in opposite directions. Apparently this happened to the Gnostics, who made a similar spirit/body split: some sects became ascetic, others profligate, because they figured their spirits were enlightened so it didn’t matter what their bodies did. This attitude goes on in our own culture, and with both results.
First of all, while it’s true that Jesus said there’s no marriage in heaven, it’s not like it means that marriage is just an earthly matter in this world. Consider Jesus’ most famous passage on marriage:
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
That makes it sound like marriage is very much God’s business. The repeated condemnations of adultery also fit in with this picture.
This matters to me because I found out a while ago I needed an alternative to the cultural devaluation of the body more than I had ever realized. Back at my old church I was listening to a sermon, I don’t even remember what about now, when the pastor quoted Paul’s line from Romans about the body being a temple of God. I’d heard that line before, of course, but that was the first time I’d really heard it. I still couldn’t tell you exactly what it means, but it was one of those moments when your perspective shifts, as if you put on glasses in a different color. (I didn’t blog this at the time, for reasons I may go into later.)
I don’t want to lose that perspective. I don’t want to be told my body doesn’t matter. Which is why I’m feeling cautious about the homosexuality thing. I don’t want acceptance of gay people to turn into acceptance of a devaluation of the flesh. I don’t think it has to, but it can. I noticed that Reconciling in Christ uses the following justification:
We affirm with the apostle Paul that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28). Christ has made us one. We acknowledge this reconciliation extends to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
I don’t know, I’m not into saying, “There’s no male and female in heaven, so let’s act like there isn’t now.” For more on this, see Lynn’s excellent post that starts with the same quote.
UPDATE: Now that I look at it again, I think I was being a bit hard on RIC; they were probably just using that line for a general acceptance of differentness. (I’m a bit touchy on this subject, can you tell?)
The larger point is, it’s precisely because I think that sex is important that I’m reluctant to call homosexuality a sin. It seems cruel to suppress something so deeply part of oneself. So I don’t get how we can say on the one hand that telling homosexuals to be celibate (or hetero) is a grave violation of their humanity and self-fulfillment, and on the other hand that “who sleeps where and who puts what in whom” is too trivial for God to care about. It’s got to resolve one way or the other.