Friday, April 20, 2007

Note from Dr. Gagnon

[Stand Firm] 19 Apr 2007--While Williams stated that his reading of Romans 1-2 “does nothing to settle the exegetical questions fiercely debated at the moment,” the context makes evident that he means by this only the question of whether Paul’s condemnation of same-sex relations in 1:24-27 would take in non-exploitative, loving homosexual bonds entered into by persons homosexually oriented. His remark cannot mean that he has nothing to say about the main question raised by the passage in its context, that is, its “movement” and “direction” of the text as it leads to Romans 2, because Williams’ precise point in these four paragraph is to explain what this movement or direction is and how such a movement or direction constrains the church’s application of Rom 1:24-27. Williams’ point is that Paul’s “primary point [is] not about homosexuality but about the delusions of the supposedly law-abiding” who are “happily identifying with Paul’s castigation of someone else” and oblivious to the fact of “universal sinfulness and need,” including his own. Therefore, Williams suggests, even if homosexual practice were absolutely rejected by Paul in a way that would include even committed homosexual unions—a point that Williams begs off debating here—that would still be secondary to Paul’s use of his remarks in Rom 1:24-27, namely, that one ought not to be judging those who engage in such behavior since we are all sinners. It is precisely that “contextual use” of the passage that I contest in my article. Therefore, I have not missed the point that Williams has made in his article but rather have targeted it. My own point is that, contrary to what Williams claims, the context for Rom 1:24-27 does not suggest to the Roman Christians (or to us) that we should stop judging sexual immorality in the midst of the community of faith. This precisely addresses the context issue that Williams raises....

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