Tuesday

Daniel Helminiak on Robert Gagnon's circular reasoning ad absurdum

“Six Degrees of Separation”
Robert Gagnon's strained argument,
respectably entitled “intertextuality,”
to support a prior opinion.


• Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 16:8: “He [God] did not spare the neighbors of Lot, whom he loathed on account of their arrogance.” The sin is arrogance, nothing sexual. BUT…
• Arrogance would be prideful, and in an oracle against pride in another place, Sirach says, “The one who clings to it [pride] pours out abominations” (10:13 ). No sex here either, BUT…
• These “abominations” would certainly have to include (why?) “man lying with man” (Leviticus 18:22). AND …
• Sirach does have sex on his mind:
In 9:1-9, he warns against sexual sins—no mention of pride or same-sex acts. BUT…
In 23:18, 22, 26-27, he decries other heterosexual sins—and, ah, yes, the lack of “fear of the Lord”! AND …
• Lack of fear of the Lord is prideful. SO…
• In six steps, (1) sexual sins link with lack of (2) fear of the Lord, which is like (3) pride, which both is like (4) arrogance and produces (5) abominations, one of which is (6) the sin of Sodom.
“Consequently, it is possible that in 16:8 ben Sirach interpreted the sin of Sodom…as hostile behavior toward ‘sojourners,' climaxing in an act of homosexual rape” (Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, pp. 86-87).

Gagnon is smart enough not to say 16:8 actually refers to homosexual rape. For his purposes it suffices to raise doubts about Sirach's outright statement and to let this doubt—attributed to a biblical scholar—bolster the naive opinion of uneducated "Bible believers" that the Bible actually does condemn homosexuality.

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