Don’t you hate it when your strongest disagreement is with your closest friends?
Here’s how that’s working in my life. In the same-sex relationship, intimacy and marriage debate that is currently dominating United Methodist news, I have a collection of colleagues with whom I am in substantial agreement on almost every theological issue.
That is, we hold to a high view of the authority of Scripture, an ongoing concern for the salvation of all people, a belief in the continuing work of the Holy Spirit, and most essentially, a commitment to what is commonly called a “high Christology.”
By “high Christology” I mean an understanding that Jesus is not godly. He is God. He is not a great man. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is not one of many. He is the one and only. Along with my friends, I treasure the truths we read in John 1:1-4, Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:1-4 and Philippians 2:5-11. Every knee really will bow and every tongue really will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
And yet a number of those same “high Christology” colleagues also embrace a new relational ethic in which same-sex marriages would ultimately be approved by and occur in United Methodist churches. With great passion and convincing articulation, they claim that you can at the same time affirm the historic creeds of the Christian faith and an evolving understanding of human sexuality. The list of these friends includes people likeSteve Harper, one of my seminary professors,Adam HamiltonandMichael Slaughter, Methodism’s highest profile voices, and the voices you hear among the new cadre of colleagues from theVia Media Methodistssite (an organization which, to be clear, has taken no official stand on changing the language in the Book Of Discipline.)
So I want to share a few lines with you on why I believe such a view is both intellectually and biblically untenable. In short, why a high Christology must be reunited with an ancient sexology. My points below will center primarily-though-not-exclusively on Paul’s texts, as he is the source of both the strongest language and the greatest disagreement in the same-sex marriage debate.