2 thoughts on “Double standards in Christian ethics

  1. There are quite a few double standards here, e.g. could a same sex couple come to Church X as interested inquirers, and receive the same practical grace and welcome as a de facto couple? But looking at double standards first-up isn’t a helpful lead-in to the issue. Those most inclined toward stone throwing will associate same-sex orientation with negative character traits, and see themselves as taking a stand, not compromising, etc, so it won’t be a useful differentiator. The woman in the stone-throwing story was guilty as well as suffering inequity, and they will focus on the “Go, and sin no more.”
    The proper beginning and the end of the question is orientation, that it exists, what it is, and what it means in practice, esp. that it could happen to anyone, how to understand and empathize with that experience rather than just exclude and discard supposed strangers. And only then how to address it biblically, and with the recognition that orientation is something which scripture did not address (which I think is easily shown from Rom 1; happy to substantiate that if helpful). Empathizing leads pretty quickly into the issue of double standards, amongst a raft of other problems, but without the adversarial baggage of addressing it directly.


  2. I agree the defacto couple situation represents another double standard within evangelical churches and that there are many more besides. I also agree it would be helpful to settle the question of orientation first, and to what extend the Bible addresses it. I suspect, however, that our churches will be debating the issue for a long time yet. I think, therefore, that we need to be pragmatic. I think the intractability of the orientation question need not deter us from challenging stone throwing in our ranks. Whether a person considers homosexuality sinful, or otherwise, stone throwing is sinful regardless, given it goes against the will of God as revealed through Jesus. I therefore think it is expedient to tease apart the two issues: (1) is homosexuality sinful or not and (2) is stonethrowing sinful or not. In the process we will need to differentiate between discernment and condemnation, which I think are often confused. Nothing is wrong with discerning sin in the life of our community. On the contrary, it is right to do so. What is wrong is putting oneself on a pedestal in the process. True discernment also involves recognizing sin in ones own life as well as the life of another, and where possible, both coming together humbly before God. Personally, while I agree with you that we do tend to read what the Bible says on homosexuality somewhat anachronistically, I still think it is clear homosexual relationships fall short of the Christian ideal. Nevertheless, I think the Bible is also clear that many (all?) of our heterosexual marriages fall short of the Biblical ideal too (and even if they do we shorely fall short in other areas of our lives) so we have no warrant for getting puffed up about ourslelves. So where stone throwing rears its head, we have a biblical mandate to humbly challenge it, whatever triggered it.


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