OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
I’ve been interested in this issue for several years now, and I welcome the discussion here and the participation of Christians of various persuasions, GLTB, and heterosexuals.
I must say that I am pessimistic that progress will be made. Already we have heard from some such as joshuafightingjericho who seem to be unable or unwilling to even question whether Christians have traditionally been correctly translating or understanding Biblical texts that seem to touch upon the subject on the one hand, and others such as danutz who turn to ad hominem lables such as "bigot" and "fundamentalist" (in referring to those who might be labeled "liberal" by people who call themselves fundamentalist). A priori claims that "the Bible condemns all expressions of same-gender sexual stimulation" or "not letting participants in monagamous, loving homosexual relationships have leadership positions in church is equivalent to not letting blacks have leadership positions in church" should be left out. Both are begging the question.
I believe the church has traditionally gotten it right that homosexual practice—as understood today—is sin. However, I recognize the weakness of several of the arguments in support of this conclusion, and am willing to consider counterarguments. I recognize that the voice of any but the heterosexual has been suppressed, and that the church may have something to learn or even repent of in listening to that voice. Finally, I do sense special pleading in that some arguments used to condemn homosexuality are not applied consistently to condemn such things as uncovered heads on women.
I don’t think concluding "text X may not apply to situation Y" will be as powerful as "text X applied to situation Z—it is irrelevant to situation Y." The question is indeed, to my mind, whether there are any expressions of homosexuality that are not sin. Most of the other issues resolve down to one or another perspective on this.
As long as judgement is supended—as long as one can’t finally say with certainty something is or is not a sin—then PastorPete’s approach appears productive. However, the Three Questions could also be a mechanism for a majority (whether "Biblical" or "enlightened") to impose its will on the rest. Also, the Three Questions (in priviledging "community growth") face some of the same criticisms church growth has faced elsewhere—what community? does growth trump all? I can hear some saying "that kind of growth we don’t need," others saying "these attitudes are hindering growth"—again, begging the question.
For my own personal edification, I’d appreciate links or references I could pursue to find the best challenges to the traditional perspective.