07/27/2007: In his July 18 blog, Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary provided insight into Mary Zeiss Stange–professor of Religion and Women’s Studies at Skidmore College–and her USA Today screed (“When it Comes to Gays, What Would Luther Do?“).
Stange, like most (if not all) women’s studies professors, is both logically and theologically off the reservation. Here is her line of reasoning:
(1) Paul was generally inspired of God, but–because he was a product of a patriarchal culture that was unaware of modern understandings–specific elements of his writings were not a matter of Divine inspiration. Among those elements are his pronouncements regarding homosexuality.
(2) Luther, like Paul, was also a product of a very prejudicial culture. Therefore, certain specificities of his theological profile–that were a product of that culture and not subject to more modern understandings–are not binding.
(3) Given that Luther was a revolutionary who challenged the cultural paradigms of his time, he would likely have supported gay relationships had he been the recipient of more modern advancements in understanding of homosexuality.
A benign term for her reasoning would be extrapolation. A more blunt assessment would be rectal extraction. I’ll just call it fantasy history.
Fact is, Luther–like Paul–challenged traditions–dogmas–that had no foundation in Scripture. His theological profile strove to stick to the word of Scripture, and he made great effort to keep traditional influence to a minimum.
Paul was very similar in that respect: he was effective at challenging traditions, while sticking to Scripture itself.
Perhaps Paul’s–and Luther’s–approaches to Scripture were similar because their model for understanding–Jesus–took a similar approach. Jesus was quite the conservative in his interpretation of Scripture, even if his conclusions (adultery, divorce, disposition of wealth) leave conservatives in fits.
Mohler was correct: neither Luther nor Paul–nor even Jesus–questioned the morality of a commandment of Scripture–sexual or otherwise. And modern understanding of the dynamics of homosexuality hardly negates the immorality of sexual activity outside the scope of heterosexual marriage.
If we could prove, for example, that pedophilia was the product of a genetic predisposition, that would contribute to our understanding to the dynamics of pedophilia. However, the pedophile’s actions would still be morally reprehensible.
The same would be true with respect to bestiality, incest, rape, and murder.
Sadly, the academic world–especially in soft departments (history, psychology, women’s studies, sociology)–has devolved into fantasy analysis. One can find the proof just by reading Stange’s column.
This is one more reason why the academy is slouching toward irrelevance.