We strongly disagree with the uninformed and patronizing treatment of homosexuality in Richard J. Foster's article "God's Gift of Sexuality" in the July  issue of Sojourners.
He argues that the Bible condemns homosexuality and therefore we must. Yet, as traditionally interpreted, the whole tenor of the Bible sanctions slavery, and the overwhelming burden of the Bible is that women are inferior to and should be subordinate to men. Are we prepared to argue today that slavery and the oppression of women are biblically justified? No. The Spirit has been and is leading us into new truth (John 16:12-13) and teaching us that what we once thought unacceptable is now clearly acceptable to God (Acts 10).
There is, in fact, no biblical sex ethic. The Bible knows only a love ethic which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in a given country, culture, or period.
Foster describes being a homosexual as like being born with a clubfoot. This gross analogy not only demeans the experience of homosexual love but also breaks down of its own weight. Is a clubfooted person not to try to walk? Rather, a homosexual person might be viewed as a left-handed person in a right-handed culture.
Foster is preoccupied with the sexual activity of homosexual people, ignoring the reality of deep and abiding love between two gay persons. How are we to understand the gay and lesbian partnerships which have endured for years or decades with the kind of fidelity, tenderness, and mutuality we celebrate in heterosexual partnership?
Is our word to a gay son or lesbian daughter to be "It is God's will that you remain celibate all your life"? No. We do not believe that is God's will. In the mystery of creation and culture, a significant percentage of people in every age, time, and place has been, is, and will continue to be homosexual. That must be all right with God. God's gift of sexuality is to all God's children, not just the right-handed ones. Celibacy is a choice offered to both gay and straight people but can never be a true vocation if imposed as punishment for the "sin" of being who you are.
The question of justice concerns us most. Why is it that the church in general and Sojourners in particular is courageous on so many justice issues, but pays scant attention to the enormous pain, exclusion, condemnation, and oppression visited upon gay and lesbian people by both church and society? Is it possible that we have been infected and blinded by the patriarchal ideology embedded in our cultural and religious traditions? It is worth remembering that--along with the Jews--communists, gypsies, the disabled, and homosexuals went into the ovens of Auschwitz.
As we have learned that the [so-called] black problem turns out to be the problem of white racism and that the women problem turns out to be the problem of male sexism, so we are learning that the homosexual problem is the problem of heterosexism and homophobia. Any theology which inhibits us from seeing, feeling, and identifying with oppressed homosexuals in the love of Christ is flawed at its roots.
If it is offensive for whites to define the experience of blacks, and men of women, it is offensive for heterosexuals to define the experience of homosexuals and assign their acceptable behavior. We urge Sojourners to invite gay and lesbian scholars and theologians to speak for themselves in your pages, thus opening up a genuine dialogue on this matter.
We believe the Spirit is inviting humanity to a homecoming banquet where Arab and Jew, male and female, Russian and American, white and people of color, gay and straight will sit down at table together with our Lord, in mutual acceptance and peace. The church of Christ is called to embody such reconciliation now.
In love and friendship,
Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
William Sloane Coffin Jr.
James B. Nelson
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