First day of the Fourth Hermeneutical Hui today (Friday 1 February) so have been reading in preparation. Now, I know that some folks here are not particularly impressed with what I write in defence of marriage as traditionally understood by Christians, being between one man and one woman. Naturally I find this all a bit strange, that defending what Christians have believed and nearly universally around the world today continue to believe should elicit so little sympathy from fellow Christians here, especially those from the catholic stable with the weight it places on tradition and its propensity to treat texts of Scripture literally (e.g. on the eucharist). But that is what it is.
However, having pre-read some of the papers about to be delivered, I remain singularly unpersuaded by those papers which propose a new line or which (essentially) soften us up for a new line. What does not persuade me? Arguments for same sex marriage which work from Scripture appear (i.e. on the basis of my reading) to involve considerable weight being placed on 'silence' - the silence of Scripture on marriage being other than between a man and a woman. Arguments from silence can have plausibility (the lack of communication from aliens is a plausible argument for them not existing!) but they are not always persuasive (especially if funny lights are seen in the sky at night!).
Further, I am finding myself wondering as I read if what I am reading (when not amounting to an argument from silence) amounts to an argument for same sex marriage being valid on the basis that when a scholarly barrage of doubts and questions is aimed at marriage as Christians have traditionally taught it, based on Scripture, "marriage" shows a few cuts and bruises. But is that an argument? And why (I ask myself as I read) are otherwise good Christian people, charged in some cases by virtue of licence with upholding the teaching of the church, so intent on finding and holding up to the light every fault and foible in the hitherto theology of marriage? Is there not a greater obligation to strengthen that theology rather than to weaken it?
Final thought for tonight, if marriage is not a Christian ideal, because disciples are called to mission which, if the NT teaches anything about discipleship, is better aided and abetted by celibacy, in what way does making that point from the gospels then create a platform to support extending marriage from heterosexual couples to same sex couples? Frankly, I find some arguments for same sex marriage to be odd as arguments.
To summarise to date, when the Hui has not even begun, I am looking for good, quality, theological arguments. Will I find them over the next two days? As best I can I will keep you posted.