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January 30, 2005

Comments

John Wilkins

You brave soul. Thanks for the defense - I exited the conversation and before I knew it, it was gone from the main page. Alas, I have the feeling that logic, evidence and argument don't quite work. Gagnon's argument of "architecture" as a moral code exemplifies how text and interpretation are often impossible to delink. The most that one could say is that homosexuality was rendered invisible; one author even says it proves that one of the authors was a woman. A moral case is merely a matter of perspective. You hit it the principal assumption on the head, DC. Thanks.

bls

There may well be valid reasons for discouraging, or even prohibiting, consensual same-sex relationships.

If only someone could actually come up with one....

;-)

David Huff

John Wilkins wrote:
Alas, I have the feeling that logic, evidence and argument don't quite work.

Well... "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into." ---Jonathan Swift

;)

Joseph Walker

Although I'm unfamiliar with the specific presentation you are refering to, the assumptions are not that far fetched, at least for a student of philosophy. The idea of (sacral) architecture of humanity goes back at least as far as Plato's Symposium, where a similar idea was posited - halves being split and seeking out reunion with an alter ego.

This method of interpretation (however one looks at it in Christian circles) has a respectable pedigree in classical philosophy. It assumes that creation stories (or myths) relate certain fundamental truths about humanity; Plato was not presuming to be a biologist or historian in the Symposium (Aristotle will do that), nor do I think, based on your reporting, is this presenter arguing on grounds of "biology" or "history" in the Enlightenment sense.

The line of argument actually moves beyond a literalist/historical reading of the text, and in a sense it could be seen as a form of Christian Platonism. But nobody except us classicists really cares...

Two cents worth. Blessings.

Tim Fisher

Gagnon's thesis hinges on the idea that one gender is "completed" by the other. Individuals must "re-unite" with their "other half." But Gagnon fails to find actual Scripture that speaks of such "re-unification." He can't find it because it isn't there.

There is nothing in Scripture that implies that adam is *incomplete* without woman. Genesis says adam is lonely "(it is not good for adam to be alone), yes, but it says nothing about incompleteness before Woman arrives, nor does it say anything about wholeness after becoming one flesh with her.

Gagnon argues that incompleteness is implied, since Woman is taken from adam's rib. Ribless, adam lacks; he is partial. But let's follow the actual terms of the story in the text. Remember, the *loneliness*, not the riblessness, of adam comes first. Riblessness (incompleteness) is not the problem God is solving with Woman. The problem explicitly stated in Genesis is that adam is lonely. Before Woman, when adam is in full possession of all his ribs and is whole, he is yet lonely. What is emphasized here--and what adam explicitly rejoices in--is the idea of "bone OF my bones, flesh OF my flesh." The word "of" denotes "derived from." Adam rejoices in the fact that Woman is derived from himself. Woman is not like the other animals, who are separate creations. He does not rejoice saying "Finally, I am completely myself again."

According to the Hebrew lexicon I consulted, the Hebrew word here translated (in the NASL) as "cleaves"--as in "cleaves to his wife" (the NRSV uses "clings")--is never used in a sense that connotes re-unification. Here are its translations/usages and the numbers of times it is so used:

cleaves 4 (to adhere), cling 14, clings 3, closely pursued 1, closer 1, clung 4, deeply attracted 1, fasten its grip 1, follow closely 1, held fast 1, hold 2, hold fast 2, holding fast 1, joined 2, joined together 1, overtake 1, overtook 5, pursued him closely 1, pursued them closely 1, remained steadfast 1, stay 1, stay close 1, stayed close 1, stick 1, stick together 1, stuck 2

Some have argued that the word "therefore" in Gen 2:24 is what implies the idea of re-unification. "[B]ecause she was taken out of Man, therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife. . . ." But what is the point of the "therefore"? Does it mean, "Therefore, in order to be reunited with himself, . . . " Or does it mean, "Therefore, because sexual procreation requires, per God's creation, sexual differentiation, . . . ." ? That is, is the point re-unification or procreation? Either meaning can be presumed, yet procreation and not re-unification is what's actually mentioned nearby: "Be fruitful and multiply."

The fact that when the two cling to each other they become "one flesh" does not imply that adam was incomplete before the occurrence of the clinging together with woman. Instead, it implies a new creation, both literally (a child is born) and figuratively (adam becomes something new when bonded in love--and yes, with sex--to woman.) Adam becomes something DIFFERENT than before, rather than something more (or, rather than something "more whole"--pardon the bad grammar here, but it's necessary to my point). And this different thing, according to Genesis, is prescriptively, but not proscriptively, good.

Remember also that after taking the rib out of adam, God "closed up the place with flesh." If (and I say if) after taking out the rib there is a tone of incompleteness, then that tone seems to be quickly replaced with a tone of healing (or, if you will, a tone of completeness). God heals the hole in adam **even before woman is created.** He is made whole by God, not by woman. God completes us, not another human being. (By the way, this idea of being made whole by God but by no other being or reality, seems to be one of the great, over-arching messages of the Bible.)

Again, as the story itself states directly, the problem is loneliness, not incompleteness. And, as the story itself states indirectly, any potential problem with incompleteness is quickly solved by God.


Grace and peace,

Tim Fisher
Minneapolis, MN

bls

First of all, there are two distinct Creation stories in Genesis (which really ought to give us some pause right there, shouldn't it?). In only one of these is Eve made from Adam's rib.

Second, interesting that, as the last person noted, "Adam rejoices in the fact that Woman is derived from himself." Perhaps a clue as to the point of view from which Scripture was written - one that kept women from being considered human beings in their own right for thousands of years, and one that we don't accept at all today?

Third, and for the ten thousandth time: there is nothing in Scripture about lesbianism. Even Maimonides agrees with this, in terms of the Hebrew Bible. So then there's no general "prohibition of homosexual activity." Why is this point so difficult to get across, I wonder? Is the theory that if there's no penis involved, it's not sex? Well, Q.E.D., then.

Fouth, why is this conversation necessary? Is "theory" about what Genesis is saying more important than the lives of real people? How does anyone dare do this? This is what religion resorts to when it gets deperate and can't face reality; we've seen it many times in the past.

Is it really so difficult to ask people to try to adjust their thinking a bit when confronted with new data? And maybe try to dig a little deeper for new understanding? Does Robert Gagnon simply want to try to hold everything in place while the world spins around him? I suggest this is a fantasy, anyway; but of course many people think that the world has always been the way they perceives it to be.

What does anyone expect gay people to do, at last? Be celibate for a lifetime, so that this "theory" can be validated? As a favor to Robert Gagnon?

bls

And BTW, doesn't this whole idea in fact end up reducing people to their biology? All animals reproduce; it's not something that takes any special effort or talent. Rape is a means of reproduction, in fact. What, then, separates human beings from the rest of the animal world in this respect?

Isn't it "love"? And isn't it ironic that the "reappraisers" have to end up scoffing at this, in order to make their "sacral architecture" theory hold together?

People are not their bodies. Their bodies are part of them, but what makes human beings human beings is our minds and our hearts. Our minds are what enabled us to rise out of the ooze and start building. Our hearts are what enable us to help one another.

We live in a new era in many ways; we're all living longer, many times using artificial means to prolong life. We conquer disability and disease every day in the laboratory. Women are having fewer children, worldwide, because they do not have to bear ten and twelve children in order to raise two any longer - and they don't want to, either. Don't we, therefore, perhaps need to have a discussion about "sexuality" in general - not "homosexuality" in particular - and come to some sort of new understanding? Isn't this possibly what this whole event is pointing towards?

Or is this in fact the danger, and what's at the bottom of the whole thing?

bls

(Sorry, that sentence should read, obviously, "And isn't it ironic that the "reasserters" have to end up scoffing at this, in order to make their "sacral architecture" theory hold together?

I really can't stand these terms, I have to say. They're both boring and dull words, and it's no wonder we all mix them up all the time. Well, maybe that's a good thing, when you think about it.)

Martinus Scriblerus

This is too quaint. You claim to be following what a Jewish wacko of 2000 years ago taught about his imaginary father in the sky based on a largely fictitious and unreliable New Testament, and you are complaining that some of your fellow believers in an all-powerful imaginary friend shouldn't rely on Genesis because it's too unreliable! Is this the new angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin argument? I can hardly wait to see who wins in the battle between the 99.99% irrational and the 100% irrational.

Joseph

Martinus, I share some of your sentiments. Those who are so opposed to Gagnon's method of interpreting myth need only look to the source of this theory of "architecture" (the Platonic dialogues) and discover within them some of the very arguments that would support their own case. Instead there seems to simply mockery of terms (as if Gagnon invented these ideas himself over tea). But I digress in areas too grand for my small mind.

bls

Again, I have to ask why we need to go anywhere to find the answer to a moral "problem," the signal attribute of which is a neutral condition that harms no one.

Joseph

I would have to completely agree that you don't need to go anywhere to find the answer to a moral "problem"; but I submit that if a person proposes to address an argument or theory of some kind, it requires facing the facts - simply that the ground of the argument is found elsewhere. I suppose I admire Socrates, who followed the question wherever it might lead. In the case of Gagnon's use of primal architecture ("sacral" is a Christian spin on an old theory), the argument is laid out elsewhere, with the logic for and against. To dismiss a theory as fantastic (because I've never encountered it before) is, IMHO, not a very helpful way of moving forward in knowledge.

blessings

Patrick Casanova

Hey guys, thanks for the interesting posts. I posted a critique of Gagnon's treatment of Leviticus on a message board at http://www.gaychristian.net/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=12;t=000200

Just scroll down to the 3rd reply by "Red-Bull Addict" (which is my SN, though it might have been changed to "Green-Tea Addict")

Anyway, I just have two things to add. 1. Gagnon was unaware that the exact same Hebrew verb for "cleave" was used for the covenant between Ruth and Naomi. Does this mean, in Gagnon's logic, that Ruth and Naomi completed each other sexually? 2. Gagnon completely ignores intersexed individuals--persons who are not male OR female. Who completes them and who do they complete? Gagnon should address that.

-- Pat

Patrick Casanova

Hey, the message board's url changed and my essay can now be found at http://www.gaychristian.net/messageboard/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=186122&an=0&page=0#186122

Jon

There may well be valid reasons for discouraging, or even prohibiting, consensual same-sex relationships.

If only someone could actually come up with one....

;-)

Posted by: bls
| January 31, 2005 at 03:48 PM
-----------------------

What would pass the criteria for "valid"?

jmc

criteria for "valid":

Gay and lesbian people won't sue you for it or try to get you fired, or start a campaign to try to make you penniless - http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/252zsbwa.asp?pg=1

If these things happen you know it's not "valid."

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