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Original Cover of the Study written by Dr. Erwin Buck

original cover art for Studies on Homosexuality and the Church

 

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Study Two: From the Old Testament - The Creation StoriesAlthough the creation stories in Genesis do not have anything to say about homosexuality as such, they deserve our attention because they are foundational for the biblical concept of life together in family and in society. These are the passages to which students turn in their search to understand God's will for the ordering of the human family. One also finds the basis for talking about "natural" and "unnatural" in matters of sex and procreation in these stories.

The first creation story (Genesis 1:26–31)

Four features stand out in this story: the "image of God" metaphor; God's delegation of dominion to humans; humankind as male and female; and God's command to "be fruitful and multiply."

There is considerable discussion about what constitutes the "image of God." The consensus is that the image of God is not to be identified with sexuality. The biblical concept of God does not dwell on God's gender, be it male or female. Rather, God is the creator, and the one who wields dominion over all of creation.

In the creation story, God commits part of that dual function to humankind. They are to have dominion over the earth, and as male and female, they are commissioned to have a part in the ongoing act of creation.

The second creation story (Genesis 2:18–25)

The second creation story dwells on the concept of partnership and complementarity of humankind as male and female. Their relationship is characterized by mutuality. Male and female are created for partnership and for intimacy. The two are of the same bone and of the same flesh. In fact, they come together to be one flesh. Sexual desire and longing for intimacy are so strong that in order to "cleave" to each other, the man will "leave" his former social group.

According to these stories, one should not think of the image of God in terms of sexual desire and procreation. Nevertheless the call, the vocation, of humankind has important sexual overtones. The exercise of that vocation provides for the satisfaction of two basic human needs: the desire for emotional and sexual fulfillment, and the desire for progeny. Companionship and procreation are thus two very important aspects of God's will for human beings.

These needs are normally fulfilled by one man and one woman in a committed relationship. Such an arrangement is, and will no doubt continue to be, the norm for the human family.

The question is whether deviations from that norm are permissible. It is evident that not all men and women procreate. The biblical story knows of many barren women. It was not known at the time that such barrenness may have less to do with the woman's than with the man's fertility. Be that as it may, while having children is considered a blessing, those who are denied that blessing cannot therefore be said to have reneged on their vocation. As a matter of fact, people like Paul can consider it their vocation, indeed their gift to remain single and to refrain from creating a family.

The question is whether emotional (and sexual) fulfillment is possible within a relationship between one man and one man or one woman and one woman. Can God's plan for humanity be realized in a gay or lesbian relationship? The creation stories make no provisions for such a possibility.

Some Lutheran theologians such as Gilbert Meilaender insist that what matters is not what is possible but what God intended. God has not made any other provisions and for Meilaender that settles the matter.

What Do You Think?

How important is procreation for the fulfillment of God's plan for humanity? What counsel would you give people who cannot, or have decided not to have children?

Is it a violation of God's will for humanity when individuals decide to remain single or childless?

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