Hauerwas

Since I’ve still not decided which book(s) to start combing through, here’s a portion of an interesting tidbit on homosexuality from an interview with Stanley Hauerwas.

[Another member of the audience asks:] Talking about the unity of the church, how might that apply to the current debates concerning homosexuality in the United Methodist Church, in the Presbyterian USA church, and the Reconciling Congregations movement within the United Methodist Church?

The problem with debates about homosexuality is they have been devoid of any linguistic discipline that might give you some indication what is at stake. Methodism, for example, is more concerned with being inclusive than being the church. We do not have the slightest idea what we mean by being inclusive other than some vague idea that inclusivity has something to do with being accepting and loving. Inclusivity is, of course, a necessary strategy for survival in what is religiously a buyers’ market. Even worse, the inclusive church is captured by romantic notions of marriage. Combine inclusivity and romanticism and you have no reason to deny marriage between gay people.

When couples come to ministers to talk about their marriage ceremonies, ministers think it’s interesting to ask if they love one another. What a stupid question! How would they know? A Christian marriage isn’t about whether you’re in love. Christian marriage is giving you the practice of fidelity over a lifetime in which you can look back upon the marriage and call it love. It is a hard discipline over many years.

The difficulty, therefore, is that Christians, when they approach this issue, no longer know what marriage is. For centuries, Christians married people who didn’t know one another until the marriage ceremony, and we knew they were going to have sex that night. They didn’t know one another. Where does all this love stuff come from? They could have sex because they were married.

Now, when marriage becomes a mutually enhancing arrangement until something goes wrong, then it makes no sense at all to oppose homosexual marriages. If marriage is a calling that makes promises of lifelong monogamous fidelity in which children are welcomed, then we’ve got a problem. But we can’t even get to a discussion there, because Christians no longer practice Christian marriage.

What has made it particularly hard is that the divorce culture has made it impossible for us to talk about these matters–and many of you know, I’m divorced and remarried. It has made it impossible for us to talk about these matters with an honesty and candor that is required if you are not to indulge in self-deceptive, sentimental lies.

For gay Christians who I know and love, I wish we as Christians could come up with some way to help them, like we need to help one another, to avoid the sexual wilderness in which we live. That’s a worthy task. I probably sound like a conservative on these matters, not because I’ve got some deep animosity toward gay people, but because I don’t know how to go forward given the current marriage practices of our culture.

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5 thoughts on “Hauerwas

  1. I’m confused. I agree that the world has taken a turn for the worse toward homosexuality, but yet I don’t agree with his little reply about the divorce culture and him being involved with it. Who is he? I have never heard of him before.

    On a side note, What do you think of the senator, who is suing God?

  2. Brandon:
    At the moment, my bookshelves are still teeming, so any full-hearted engagement with Hauerwas will have to wait. At the same time, I greatly appreciate some of styles of thought he develops (I’m thinking here of Alidair MacIntyre and the other Augustinian Thomists).

    Kat:
    Where do you differ from him re: the divorce culture?

    He’s an influential American theologian/ethicist (look in Wikipedia if you want more).

    And on the senator suing God, it’s just too easy to make a joke (eg why isn’t he suing Krishna?). I’d love it if they actually started bringing in theologians and philosophers from around the world to testify on God’s behalf.

    If the case was won (if God was guilty), Theists would either revolt or start protecting the valuable Tradition they are apart of, much more interest would be brought to the ideas behind what we think and do, and many people who are Christians in name only would have to consider who they’re willing to fight for (particularly if they’re not wanting to fight for their King).

    If the case wasn’t won (God is vindicated), New Atheism would look much less palatable and the case would likely be a rallying point for various Christian groups.

    I don’t see what’s wrong with a good fight. Either way (whether won or lost), we still win in the end. The only way we lose is to do nothing.

  3. To dredge up a note from a previous post: Nick, you really ought to read “After Virtue”, if you haven’t already. I’m going through it now, when I can steal the time for it.

  4. Ben:
    Yeah…I know. The challenge is that I don’t know very much about the background of what he’s talking about. I’m ok with Nietzsche, the basic idea of teleological ethics and the death of the Enlightenment project, but I’m totally out of it when it comes to Augustine and Aquinas. It’s also difficult because I’ll probably agree with just about everything he has to say (then again, maybe his Marxist tinges will toss me into a tizzy).

    However, you know what I would enjoy? You could guest star on my blog reviewing (or summarizing, or whatever) that book. What do you think?

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