Friday, March 30, 2007

Acts 10:34 - Non Est Personarum Acceptor Deus

In the introduction to his Philosophy of History (which I've been reading with my seniors), Hegel points out that the universal law is not made for individuals, as such. The claim would remain true even if the universal were removed as a qualifier. A law is a command to an entire community or a rule for a particular group within the larger whole - but always for individuals collected.

I had all of this in mind as I read a post from a new blog that I've been reading. I am struck by the importance of our own personal story as we each struggle to come to conclusions about these issues. The author is Chuck Blanchard and the issues he refers to have to do with same-sex relationships.

I am struck by the opposite. Personal stories, either our own or others', often hinder us from coming to conclusions in controversies. Moral judgments, which are the kind of conclusions we're talking about, are very tricky judgments to make. They become even trickier the more particular they get. The New Testament, in no uncertain terms, forbids us from passing judgment on that peculiar bundle of particularities: our neighbor.

In his post Blanchard judges the people he encounters in apparently healthy committed same-sex relationships to be very good people. Now if the New Testament does not allow Blanchard to judge his neighbors in order to condemn, why is he allowed to judge them in order to approve? If God alone can look into a person's soul condemn evil, how can one man look at another and confidently declare that there is no wrong in him or what he does?

The desire to base moral argument on personal experience is disturbing. Why? Because it seems unlawful. Refusing to condemn a practice because it is done by someone we care for is unjust and unfair. It is not love when a judge dismisses the case of a man he knows and likes - it is illegal. There is a Biblical injunction against this in Deuteronomy 1:17: Ye shall not respect persons in judgment.

People are wonderful and their stories are moving. In moral controversy, though, appeals to personal stories obfuscate more than clarify because the universal law is not made for individuals, as such.


Chuck Blanchard said...


Thanks for your post. As I said in the post on my blog, the personal encounters with gays and lesbians was only the first step "before we began to do the tough biblical and theological thinking on this issue." In other words, it was these experiences that caused us to ASK the question: is this really sinful? It does not provide the theological answer.

This experience does provide two useful data-points. First, many of these gay and lesbian friends tell me that they have prayed to change their orientation, and they have not changed. Second, as my Priest describes it on his blog "I have Gay and Lesbian friends and parishioners who I know are taking their faith very seriously. I am told by them that they find their lives being transformed. They are more honest, more compassionate, more loving, and more prayerful than they used to be. They show forth the gifts of the Spirit as listed by the Apostles Paul and Peter (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Ephesians 4, Romans 12 and 1 Peter 4:11)." See And, if you beleive, like i do, that the Holy Spirit is still operating inthe world, these observations cannot be ignored in making the theological conclusions about long-term, monogonmous and committed same sex relationships.

The next step, is to take a closer look at the scriptures themseleves. And that, I promise, will be the focus of a postin in the coming weeks.

Have a blessed Holy Week.


Alishia said...

More pictures of Stella.

Hansonius said...


I believe the Holy Spirit continues to operate.

I believe that human nature continues to stubbornly resist the workings of the Holy Spirit in many instances.

I believe that sin can become habitual (i.e. a second nature) and have consequences for an entire community.

I believe that human intelligence can be self-deceived - especially when it attempts to reinterpret traditional teachings to fit the way that feels right.

The story of Noah is scary, Chuck. I am not convinced by the way you talk about cultural relevance and personal encounters that we feel that story in the same way.