The Future of God's Reign
from Engaging the Powers
Chapter 2: The Origin of the Domination System

[Walter Wink on Homosexuality and the Bible]
[Index to Confronting the Powers that Be]

The chart below [page 46 of Engaging the Powers] may help to clarify the differences between the Domination System and God's domination-free order. 
Societal Mode The Domination System God's Domination Free Order
Gender Differences  Patriarchal: difference implies superiority/inferiority  Equality of sexes; differences may lead to specialization but not to ranking 
Power  Power over; power to take life, control, destroy; win-lose; domination; competition  Power with; power to give, support, nuture life; win-win; partnership; competition/cooperation 
Politics  Conquest; autocracy; authoritarian; bureaucratic;  Diplomacy; democracy; enabling; decentralized 
Economics  Exploitation, greed, privilege, inequality  Sharing, sufficiency, responsibility, equality 
Religion  Male God--jealous, wrathful, punishing, lawgiving  Inclusive-God images-- Mother/Father, loving/judging, compassionate/severe, merciful/demanding 
Relationships  Ranking, domination hierachies, slavery, classism, racism, we/they, rigidity  Linking, actualization hierarchies, equality of opportunity, we/we, flexibility 
Transformative Mode  Violence, force, war
Suppression of conflict 
Nonviolent confrontation, negotiation, inclusiveness
Nonviolent conflict resolution 
Ecological stance  Exploitation, control, contempt  Harmony, cooperation, respect 
Logic  Either/or, analytic  Both/and, analytic/synthetic 
Role of ego  Self-centered  Affiliation-oriented 
Education  Indoctrination  Enabling 
Sexual responsibility  Subordination of women's reproductive capacities and sexual expression to male control  Control of sexuality by individuals in the light of community values see foonote Wink on Homosexuality and the Bible
Eschatology  Status quo, holding and keeping power; "this world" "this evil aeon" Eternity in the future, injustice in the present  Cultural transformation, the reign of God, the coming aeon Eternity in the present, justice in the future. 

text © 1992 Augsburg Fortress

Walter Wink on Homosexuality and the Bible

*Yes, Wink is "SideA,"  Wink also acknowledges that he may be wrong. He is an "E" concerning methods.

Walter Wink's Homosexuality and the Bible is available online and as a low-cost print publication. The first excerpt below summarizes his position that sexuality is a matter of mores. The second excerpt is an appeal for tolerance across the divide.

The Problem of Authority

These cases are relevant to our attitude toward the authority of Scripture. They are not cultic prohibitions from the Holiness Code that are clearly superseded in Christianity, such as rules about eating shellfish or wearing clothes made of two different materials. They are rules concerning sexual behavior, and they fall among the moral commandments of the Scripture. Clearly we regard certain rules, especially in the Old Testament, as no longer binding. Other things we regard as binding, including legislation in the Old Testament that is not mentioned at all in the New. What is our principle of selection here?

For example; virtually all modern readers would agree with the
Bible in rejecting:
   intercourse with animals

But we disagree with the Bible on most other sexual mores.
  [note: morality refers to the mores in a culture]

The Bible condemened the following behaviors which we generally allow:
   intercourse during menstruation
   exogamy (marriage with non-Jews)
   naming sexual organs
   nudity (under certain conditions)
   masturbation (some Christians still condemn this)
   birth control (some Christians still forbid this)
   And the bible regarded semen and menstrual blood
     as unclean, which most of us do not

   Likewise, the bible permitted behaviors that we today condemn:
     levirate marriage
     sex with slaves
     treatment of women as property
     very early marriage (for the girl, age 11-13)

And while the Old Testament accepted divorce, Jesus forbade it. In short, of the sexual mores mentioned here, we only agree with the Bible on four of them, and disagree with it on sixteen!

Surely no one today would recommend reviving the levirate marriage. So why do we appeal to proof texts in Scripture in the case of homosexuality alone, when we feel perfectly free to disagree with Scripture regarding most other sexual practices? Obviously many of our choices in these matters are arbitrary. Mormon polygamy was outlawed in this country, despite the constitutional protection of freedom of religion, because it violated the sensibilities of the dominant Christian culture, even though no explicit biblican prohibition against polygamy exists.

If we insist on placing ourselves under the old law, as Paul reminds us, we are obligated to keep every commandment of the law (Gal. 5:3). But if Christ is the end of the law (Rom. 10:4),  if we have been discharged from the law to serve, not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit (Rom. 7:6), then all of these Old Testament sexual mores come under the authority of the Spirit. We cannot then take even what Paul says as a new law. Christians reserve the right to pick and choose which laws they will observe, though they seldom admit to doing just that. And this is as true of evangelicals and fundamentalists as it is of liberals and mainliners.

Judge for Yourselves. The crux of the matter, it seems to me, is simply that the Bible has no sexual ethic. There is no biblical sex ethic. Instead it exhibits a variety of sexual mores, some of which changed over the thousand-year span of biblical history. Mores are unreflective customs accepted by a given community. Many of the practices that the Bible prohibits, we allow, and many that it allows, we prohibit. The Bible only knows a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in any given country, culture, or period.


An Appeal for Tolerance

What saddens me in this whole raucous debate in the churches is how sub-Christian most of it has been. It is characteristic of our time that the issues most difficult to assess, and which have generated the greatest degree of animosity, are issues on which the Bible can be interpreted as supporting either side. I am referring to abortion and homosexuality.

We need to take a few steps back, and be honest with ourselves. I am deeply convinced of the rightness of what I have said in this essay. But I must acknowledge that it is not an airtight case. You can find weaknesses in it, just as I can in others'. The truth is, we are not given unequivocal guidance in either area, abortion or homosexuality. Rather than tearing at each others' throats, therefore, we should humbly admit our limitations. How do I know I am correctly interpreting God's word for us today? How do you? Wouldn't it be wiser to lower the decibels by 95 percent and quietly present our beliefs, knowing full well that we might be wrong.

I know a couple, both well known Christian authors in their own right, who have both spoken out on the issue of homosexuality. She supports gays, passionately; he opposes their behavior, strenuously. So far as I can tell, this couple still enjoy each other's company, eat at the  same table, and, for all I know, sleep in the same bed.

[he's referring to the Campolos. The transcript of their video is at ]

We in the church need to get our priorities straight. We have not reached a consensus about who is right on the issue of homosexuality. But what is clear, utterly clear, is that we are commanded to love one another. Love not just our gay sisters and brothers, who are often sitting besides us, unacknowledged, in church, but all of us who are involved in this debate. These are issues about which we should amiable agree to disagree. We don't have to tear whole denominations to shreds in order to air our differences on this point.

If that couple I mentioned can continue to embrace across this divide, surely we can do so as well.


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