Dr. Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is widely known in the Presbyterian Church USA for his opposition to the ordination of homosexuals. He has written many articles on the subject and his book The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics is unavoidable if one has any desire to engage in the debate about homosexuality on Biblical grounds. In this series I will only be responding to one of his many essays on the topic, “How to Make a Valid Secular Case Against Cultural Endorsement of Homosexual Behavior.”
Why restrict the grounds of debate? For several reasons. First, there is a significant power disparity between myself and Gagnon. He is a professor, I am a student. He is far more learned than I in Biblical languages and hermeneutics, with a greater breadth of knowledge of the literature. It would be unproductive to engage in debate on such asymmetrical terms. Secondly, coherence of argument is easier when you start with a limited subject matter. Since the point of his essay is to demonstrate how to make a valid secular case against cultural endorsement of homosexual behavior, it would be counterproductive to extend the discussion into Biblical hermeneutics anyway. Third, it is a frequently repeated tactic of Dr. Gagnon to discredit his opponents on the grounds that they haven’t taken into account ALL of his work or argued against his STRONGEST arguments. Given the amount of ink Gagnon has spilled on the subject it is a task beyond me to attempt at this time such a complete rebuttal. I therefore restrict myself at the outset not to refuting Gagnon’s entire project, but just responding to this essay.
Before I began posting this to the blog I emailed Dr. Gagnon my entire rebuttal with this cover letter:
Since you invite, through your website, debate and argument about your views and writing I am emailing you a document that I wrote in response to your essay proposing 6 secular arguments against cultural endorsement of homosexual behavior. I believe the format of the document is self explanatory. I will be posting this document in segments on my blog where I hope it will generate some conversation.
Should you choose to respond I would like to extend an invitation to you to respond in writing on my blog. You may do this as normal through the comment threads or you may send me your written response via email and I will post it to my blog without editorializing.
Gagnon, in this essay, lays out six reasons to emphasize in order to make a case against cultural endorsement of homosexual behavior. They are: 1) the nature argument; 2) the negative side effects; 3) the increase of homosexuality; 4) the intolerance of the homosexual agenda; 5) the destruction of marriage; 6) the normalization of all consensual sexual relationships, irrespective of number and degree of blood relatedness. I will quote each of them and rebut them in turn in separate posts for each argument.