A quote worth pondering

From N.T. Wright, an Anglican theologian and our modern day C.S. Lewis:

A footnote on sexual behaviour in Paul’s world. If one looks at the ancient world there is of course evidence of same-sex behaviour in many contexts and settings. But it is noticeable that the best-known evidence comes from the high imperial days of Athens on the one hand and the high imperial days of Rome on the other (think of Nero, and indeed Paul may have been thinking of Nero). I have argued elsewhere against the view that Paul was quiescent politically, that he held a strong implicit and sometimes explicit critique of pagan empire in general and of Rome in particular; and clearly denunciation of pagan sexual behaviour was part of that (e.g. Philippians 3.19– 21).

I just wonder if there is any mileage in cultural analysis of homosexual behaviour as a feature of cultures which themselves multiply and degenerate in the way that great empires are multiply degenerate, with money flowing in, arrogance and power flowing out, systemic violence on the borders and systematic luxury at the centre. Part of that imperial arrogance in our own day, I believe, is the insistence that we, the empire, the West, America, or wherever, are in a position to tell the societies that we are already exploiting in a thousand different ways that they should alter their deep-rooted moralities to accommodate our newly invented ones. There is something worryingly imperial about the practice itself and about the insistence on everybody else endorsing it. It is often said that the poor want justice while the rich want peace. We now have a situation where two-thirds of the world wants debt relief and one-third wants sex. That is, I think, a tell-tale sign that something is wrong at a deep structural level.

Wright, N. T.. Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013 (p. 267). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

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About Ivan Wolfe

Ivan Wolfe teaches rhetoric at Arizona State University. He has a PhD in English from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BA and MA in English (with minors in Classical Greek, Music, and Philosophy) from BYU. He has several credits on various Christmas albums aimed at the LDS market, several essays in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and various book reviews in academic and popular venues. He also competes in Scottish Highland Games and mud run/obstacle course races, and he can deadlit over double his bodyweight (his last PR was over 500 pounds). He is currently married to Lisa Renee Wolfe. He has six kids and four stepkids.

6 thoughts on “A quote worth pondering

  1. I think we have multiple things going on:

    1) It is known that maternal stress in gestating rats causes same-sex attraction in their offspring. The recent decades have put women under unusual amounts of unanticipated stress, naturally leading to a higher incidence of same-sex attracted children (assuming the rat finding is extensible to humans).

    2) Populations tend to adopt non-reproductive strategies when they perceive themselves to be facing overpopulation. Note that it is not necessary that there be actual overpopulation to create this desire to adopt non-reproductive strategies, merely the perception. Same-sex attraction would appear to be the ultimate non-reproductive strategy (though multiple analyses of teenage behavior find that self-proclaimed same-sex attracted people are much more likely than hetero-normal folks to either engender or conceive a child during the teenage years – for lesbians the same-sex attraction may be post hoc but for gay men it appears to be a matter of quantity of sex, with a small fraction occurring with nubile women).

    3) The LGBTQIA community has latched onto the civil rights movement as their model for how the world should work – i.e., that they are an oppressed minority akin to the Blacks “rescued” by the policies of JFK and LBJ. Thus they expect to be granted the same sort of protection and social advancement that was hoped for with the civil rights movement. One could make a coherent argument that the ostensibly compassionate policies of the 1960s destroyed Black family structure in many communities, but there have obviously been many cases where Black persons have been able to realize their potential in ways that would have been impossible in the wake of the state-sanctioned oppression from the Woodrow Wilson era (back in the days when Blacks were predominantly Republican and the KKK was predominantly a Democratic organization).

  2. Other than being mostly wrong, cherry picking information, and using confirmation bias to interpret the evidence, that’s a really good article Geoff_Aus.

  3. But if that comment seems a bit too snarky, rather than quote more NT Wright, I will post this link with a brief excerpt:
    “Numerous theories have been set forth attempting to explain away Paul’s statements . . . all of these theories rest on assumptions and logical leaps that simply cannot be maintained.”
    “There is simply no question that the Bible, from the Creation through the New Testament, condemns homosexual conduct. Single passages may be explained away to the satisfaction of some, but one can only explain away so
    much before the entire foundation has been removed.”
    https://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/starr-justin-BiblicalHomosexuality.pdf

  4. “Imperial arrogance” is definitely the illness of our system. So many readily believe that we have evolved beyond the mores and values of the past.

    “… the poor want justice while the rich want peace.” Reminds me of something Satan is portrayed as saying in the LDS temple endowment. I dare not quote directly out of reverence, but the idea is that he is in charge of the system and resistance is futile.

  5. Pingback: Assorted quotes | Petty Armchair Popery

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