An Interesting SSM Proposition
Yesterday, Michael wrote an excellent article on how to read the bible literately. The major crux of his post being Paul's reciting of "the gospel" from 1 Corinthians 5:1-8. This passage has to re-work our thinking about propositions and stories. Everyone who wanted to agree with Michael nodded their heads to his statement,
"If you were to go up to a typical protestant and ask them to explain the Gospel to you in one minute they would most likely give you three propositions...Essentially, if you ask someone what they Gospel is they will tell you a propositional form of Justification by faith alone.
Ironically, they think they get this definition from Paul...When Paul wanted to encapsulate 'the Gospel' to the Christians in Corinth he told them a story."
Everyone waves their anti-Enlightenment/modernism flags. Down with the propositions. I count myself among those who agreed with Michael. This is a subject on which I am familiar. Still, I have long questioned how far this concept can really go in the Christian faith. What happens when we remove or add propositions?
There is no possible way to get marriage wrong and the gospel right.— Douglas Wilson (@douglaswils) July 14, 2015
Push Meet Shove
Today provided a good test case. Doug Wilson, who is never short on good writing material, published one of his classic snarky and insightful tweets. I nodded and then immediately felt myself recoil. Doug was inserting a proposition into the gospel. Though perhaps a misreading, it seemed clear his tweet was speaking to the recent rash of discussion on SSM.
He inserting a proposition or at least claiming that adding an SSM proposition ruined the gospel. But on the surface the proposition had nothing to do with the historical salvific act of Jesus Christ. This isn't a denial of the incarnation, His virgin birth, death, burial, or resurrection. Basically, this proposition does not seem to contradict any historical church creed.
So what are we to do with this? How can we read the SSM discussion into a story based understanding of the gospel? Does it still undermine the story of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection?
Where Do We Go Now?
Frankly, proof texting is not helpful in this case. That returns us to proposition thinking. Even if we arrive at the "right" conclusion it is worth time to let this thought-experiment play itself out. Can we argue that SSM undermines the gospel at the narrative level?
I could not help but recall a video with NT Wright on homosexuality. There is none better to discuss the Bible's story and the gospel. The binary and complimentary pairs of creation include male and female. The Scriptures conclude with a marriage supper between a victorious king and his bride. Marriage is not merely a social arrangement but a depiction of the rightness of creation as well as the future restoration of creation to its creator. It should be clear then that SSM and homosexuality are, at best, disharmonious with the narrative of the Scripture. But does this equate to a completely different narrative? Is the historical gospel of Jesus Christ refuted in the practicing of SSM to the degree that one who holds the proposition "SSM is an okay Christian practice" is rendered impotent with respect to their understanding of the gospel?
Paul's analogy on marriage in Ephesians 5 is a blistering summation of the narrative story of the Scriptures. Here Paul places into didactic form everything that the Scriptures allude to throughout their narratives. Here marriage is directly linked to Christ and the church. Creation itself is a spoken mystery of Christ and His bride. The gospel is directly found in marriage not as much a redemptive act (though it is that) as it is a reflection turned restorative.
What does this say about the discord that SSM and homosexuality brings to the Christian narrative? Speaking against an established order is one thing. Speaking against restoration with God is a complete other. Of course the narrative behind SSM does not think about itself this way. The choice and diversity of orientation comes hand in hand with choice and diversity to restoration. They may not logically follow from one another. But they are in close union with each other. They will desire to be in harmony.
So I agree with Michael. I disagree with Doug Wilson. Speaking purely from propositions one can be wrong on marriage and right on the gospel. Yet, the lack of harmony will be telling. Either in the narrative retelling of the gospel or the renewed narrative of homosexuality there will be discord. Like two singers performing different tunes, eventually our minds will tune out one and be persuaded of the other. One will triumph over the other as the true narrative. But this could take a long time. It could also possibly become a cultural disharmony that people learn to accept (like modern evangelical views on divorce).
In this way, homosexuality is not unlike other sins. All sins were sung once time began to distort the gospel message. Moreover, against all sins Paul says, "once were some of you." Against all sins, baptism poses us as militant Christians. Ultimately this girds how Christ can say,
“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”