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Tears in God's Wineskin:  A Theology of Hospitality

Part 4: Appendix


The Ad Ignorantium Argument - Arguing from Silence

When the relevant texts in the Bible, from Genesis to Paul’s teaching, are carefully explored in their language, content, context and culture, it is evidential that the Bible does not condemn same-sex acts in general. However, some may argue that the Bible speaks openly and clearly only about heterosexual relations when speaking positively about sex and therefore, since heterosexual relations are explicitly promoted, homosexual relations are by implication condemned. As a popular homophobic adage favoured by some Christians rather coarsely expresses, ‘God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.’ However, while this argument may have emotional appeal, for several reasons it has no validity.

Taking the creation story of Genesis 1 and 2, it is important to consider what the author’s intended point was meant to be. The writer portrays the world in its sorry and sinful state and explains how this situation was not God’s making; the Creator makes a beautiful and enjoyable world, but through people’s misuse of the creation life becomes very hard. The author gives a lesson in religion, concerning God’s ways and human sinfulness, providing a story to make this point and the story involves the most common example for all societies: a man, a woman, their relationship and their children. Genesis showcases the most common example within ancient Hebrew life and uses it to carry a valuable lesson for all people. However, the story is only the means for delivering the author’s point of religion and in real terms Adam and Eve are not crucial to it. It is not a lesson about sexual orientation and there is nothing in Genesis 1 or 2 to suggest that heterosexuality was predominantly in the author’s mind as the sole sexuality for the human race. Advocating heterosexuality as the only valid sexual orientation based on the Genesis text - or any scripture referring to the love of women and men for each another - presumes that the Bible says what it in fact does not.

The Adam-and-Eve-not-Adam-and-Steve argument depends on the logical fallacy of ad ignorantium. That is, argument based on an appeal to silence, or on the assumption of what is not said. It is promoted in the sense of saying that since the Bible does not actively support homosexuality it must be concluded that the Bible condemns it. However, this conclusion is flawed, since the only honest conclusion is to concede that we cannot possibly know the mind of the biblical author on the subject. Jesus did not choose Chinese or Scottish disciples, nor did he choose disciples with only one leg, or who were blind but should we conclude from this that Chinese and Scottish people or those with a physical disability cannot become Christians? Of course not. The Bible frequently speaks of dogs but cats are never mentioned, only a brief reference in Baruch 6:22, one of the Jewish Canonical books, concerns cats roaming Babylonian temples. Should we therefore conclude that the Bible is anti-cat? Again, no, such a conclusion would be nonsensical.

Endorsing heterosexuality would only imply a condemnation of homosexuality if the two were mutually exclusive in Scripture and were stated as such, providing an either/or choice. Were that case, then approving of one would by default condemn the other. However, such a choice is unrealistic and, if it is real at all, it is only so in the minds of those promoting the argument. As mentioned earlier, personal opinion does not necessarily depend on the Bible, but this way of reading the Bible does rely heavily on personal opinion. One might equally (and just as invalidly) conclude that Jesus spoke a great deal about heterosexuals and said nothing about homosexuals because he was concerned for heterosexuals but had no worries whatsoever about homosexuals. Positive biblical references about heterosexual relationships do not in any sense imply condemnation of homosexual relationships, and this is all the more clear since the Bible does speak outright in several passages about same-sex acts in definite terms, relating to specific situations, but nowhere in the Bible is there an intentional blanket condemnation of homosexuality in general or specifically of committed homosexual relationships.