OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
Well, well. I’ve been away on vacation visiting family and have missed all the action. Obviously it has taken some time to get through all of the new posts, but I would like to enter into the conversation again. What the posts seem to show are two things:
First, the Three-question Method has not helped us move beyond the usual arguments of Scripture and experience. Most of the posts are the same old arguments restated over and over again.
Second, the reaction to this issue is very deep-seated and we may not be ready to move passed debate into dialouge. I don’t know that one post has made an attempt to answer the three questions.
Over the break I’ve been reading a new "introduction" to Karl Barth’s theology. One word that keeps coming up with regard to God and God’s law is "arbitrary." From what I understand, Barth seems to be saying that neither God nor God’s law is arbitrary. Rather, God makes a gracious choice for us that is a result of God’s love which existed already before us. In other words, God desires to share God’s (Trinitarian) life of love with us. God is not a tyrannical ruler that makes arbitrary rules for us to blindly follow.
I wonder is this choice for us is expressed in Paul’s three "buts": not all things are beneficial, not all things build up, I will not be dominated by anything. I mean that God did not choose laws for arbitrary reasons, but so that we might experience fullness of life; a beneficial, built up life that is not dominated by anything other than love.
Let me clarify that beneficial is not about happiness, built up is not about growth in numbers, and dominated is not merely about addiction. All of these should be thought of primarily in terms of Christ-likeness which was primarily about love of God and neighbor. To paraphrase what someone else wrote, the Bible is about love, not about morals. Which brings me to a valid concern.
Where do we draw the line? I think this question is addressed by the Three-Question Method. Quite obviously, adultery, pornography, child abuse, sex with animals, etc. are not beneficial, they do not build up and illustrate a domination by sex over the indiviudal.
I’m glad such a lively debate ensued, but I’m hoping that we can all begin to dialogue. Let me conclude by asking some of you to make an attempt to address the questions laid out in the original post.