04 May 2008

Ben Myers, Stanley Hauerwas, and Rowan Williams on the Moral Superiority of Gays

Ben Myers, at Faith and Theology Blog, has a wonderful and brief discussion of Stanley Hauerwas's famous 1993 essay, "Why Gays (as a group) are morally superior to Christians (as a group)" that was published first in the Charlotte Observer and then later in the Hauerwas Reader.

Coupled with this discussion, Myers also comments upon Rowan Williams' 1999 lecture, The Body's Grace. While the stated "subjects" here may be homosexuality and Christianity (of which we have heard much, of late), but the real message goes to examine Christian ethics and its function ... put another way, each of these writers challenge a Christian Ethic that merely supports and sanctions the status quo.

I recommend reading Ben Myers' interesting post, as well as the dozens of comments that it inspired. Here is an excerpt from his post (and below it, I have also posted his response this afternoon to the 4-5 dozen comments on the post).

from Faith and Theology blog:

As writers like Williams and Hauerwas remind us, then, the task of Christian ethics is not to shore up the status quo, not to reassure us of our own security – and certainly not to naturalise the status quo, so that our own behaviour becomes the self-evident norm against which every deviation can be identified and condemned as such. Instead, the task of Christian ethics is to bring us under the judgment of the gospel, and to remind us that our action is always fraught with danger. In every new decision we are balanced precariously on the edge of a knife. In every decision, we stand under judgment. It is the false prophet who cries “peace, peace – when there is no peace.”

read the rest HERE

...and, here is his comment in response to a flurry of posted comments:

Hi folks: sorry, I honestly didn't mean to start a big war about the legitimacy of same-sex relationships! In fact, the point of my post was simply that, from the standpoint of Christian ethics, the question of same-sex legitimacy is not especially interesting or important. If anything, I think the heated debate over this question tends to distract us from the really significant moral questions, such as: what are the basis and function of sexual "norms" within the Christian community? What does it mean for the church when Christian ethicists naturalise the moral status quo? What is the function of the church's "moral no" to same-sex relationships, etc? These are the kinds of questions that Hauerwas and Williams are trying to provoke.

In my opinion, questions like these are of urgent importance for Christian ethical reflection — and these are precisely the questions that tend to be elided in heated debates about the "homosexual question". Sunday, May 04, 2008 2:54:00 PM


Ben Myers said...

Thanks for your interest, Peter, and for your kind words. (Incidentally, you happen to share the name of one of my favourite novelists — so that makes me like you even more!)

Padre Rob+ said...

thanks for pointing me to myers' blog- valuable contributions to the church's struggle at the moment.

Thanks for your note on my blog. I think I've seen you around at Fresh Start? I have a beard now- I look forward to meeting you.