Theology of the Homosexual Body: More on Complementarity, Relationship, and Procreation

You Men of God and Earth
May 17, 2008
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I disagree with John Paul on the finer points of complementarity in the creation stories, but there are fundamental similarities in our view of mankind’s genesis.

First of all, we were created first and foremost a single humankind. This is the state of man when innocence prevailed and before he was made aware of sin.

Second, the creation of man (‘is) and woman (‘issah) introduces a foundational element of our humanity: relationship. Stripping away cultural ascriptions to the designations “man” and “woman”, we may understand that the relationship of this early pair was grounded in a mutual dependence, and an inclined affinity toward one another.

Third, the complementarity, or relationship, of man and woman allow for a return to the original innocence of his creation.

The first of the understandings is mostly self-explanatory. Man was created uniquely without sin and before relationship was possible. God deemed relationship necessary, though the “why” is left out of the book of Genesis. The only vague explanation we have comes from 2:18, in which God determines that man should not be alone. Thus, we have the creation of the woman.

But this creation of man and, subsequently, his partner, is only in the second creation story. In the first, mankind is created from the start as male and female; they are created in the context of relationship. Again, however, gender is not referenced. As John Paul rightly asserts, the more proper terms are “masculine” and “feminine”.

In either case, we have established that mankind was created by God with relationship to define himself. There is no gender identification.

The complementarity of “man” and “woman” is said to allow us to return to our original state of innocence. If we understand these terms to be, rather, “masculine” and “feminine”, we suggest the ideology of Eastern religions, wherein complementarity comes through the inner self rather than the physical being. As can be observed in any human being, masculine and feminine qualities exist in each of us to varying degrees. Our complementarity with another human being rests, in part, on the complementarity of our masculine and feminine characteristics.

If this is true, then there is nothing in homosexuality which is counter to the creation stories. Homosexuality embraces 1) relationship and 2) complementarity, regardless of physicality.

It becomes tricky when we try to understand the command “be fruitful and multiply” in the context of homosexuality. Homosexual partners obviously cannot produce offspring; does this mitigate their complementarity? It should be noted, in answer to this question, that the command to multiply did not occur until after the creation of “man” and “woman” in chapter 1 of Genesis, and not at all in chapter 2. It seems unlikely from the biblical context, then, that to multiply was necessary for complementarity in the realization of mankind’s original innocence.

We must also understand, however, that homosexuality need not stand against heterosexuality in Genesis 1 and 2. To the contrary, the effort here is to support both, understanding each in the nature of humankind’s original creation. Was it necessary to multiply? According to God’s command, yes. But this does not preclude the faithful existence of homosexuals as created by God, also in His image. Rather, it suggests that they might exist alongside heterosexuals. It is worthy of noting that the language in Genesis 1 and 2 does not rule out the creation of man as many instead of one, man being used more in the sense of “mankind” rather than “a man”.

Outside of the context of Genesis 1 and 2, the sexual compatibility of homosexual partners supports masculine and feminine traits, in any number of varying balances. Additionally, if we understand that procreation is not necessary to relationship as intended for reaching our first innocence through the complementarity of personhood, we may easily agree than homosexual partners achieve an equal holy and faithful bond—sexually and spiritually. What drives the debate on homosexuality as sin is the reading of Genesis 1 and 2. If we understand it in a literal physical way, without proper consideration for language and the associations now attached to it, then it is easy to misconstrue the creation. However, if we frame the questions of propriety around a more liberal reading, which takes into consideration historical context, readership, translation, and a theology that progressed throughout man’s history, then we may come to understand it in a more careful, and more scrupulous way.

I should mention that homosexuality as a sin cannot come from Genesis 1 and 2. There is no implication that a variation on the physical complementarity of man and woman would not allow for complete union, and the creation of “one body”. Rather, it is an understanding of complements as they exist in our inner selves, and give no prescription for sexual necessity. Additionally, procreation is not mentioned in the context of 2:23, wherein the union of man and woman is described as a “clinging” and the institution of “one body”.

More to come on what it means, then, to be homosexual in the context of complementarity, relationship, and the creation of “one body” through union in loving partnership.

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