Editorial: A Collision of Worldviews and the Complementarian Response -- By: Denny Burk
JBMW 14:1 (Spring 2009) p. 2
A Collision of Worldviews and the Complementarian Response
Editor, The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Dean of Boyce College
Associate Professor of New Testament
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Gender Confusion At SBL
The Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender/Queer Hermeneutics Section is a regular part of the program at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).1 The average lay person would probably be nonplussed by the existence of such a group, given that a plain reading of the Old and New Testaments seems to militate against a homosexual lifestyle. But for those who have been following recent developments in the academic study of the scripture, this group is no surprise at all. It merely follows a trend that has become standard fare for a whole sector of biblical and religious studies. Among other things, the LGBT/Queer Hermeneutics Section aims to explore “the intersections between queer readers and biblical interpretations.”2 In general, participants in this section support the normalization of homosexual orientation and practice in spite of what the Bible teaches. They seek to read the Bible as those who would “interrogate” traditions (biblical and otherwise) that they deem to be oppressive to that end.3
I sat in for a portion of the LGBT/Queer Hermeneutics Section at the annual SBL meeting this past November in Boston. What I heard there was both startling and sobering. The presentation that I attended featured a female theologian from a small seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. She delivered a paper on Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians—a presentation which included a variety of vulgar double-entendres involving the text of scripture and which would hardly be useful to repeat here.
What was noteworthy, however, was her stance toward the apostle Paul, which was decidedly antagonistic. Going against the current trend of counterimperial readings of Paul, she said that Paul was not “anti-imperial” but “alternate imperial.” She complained that Paul’s letters reveal an
JBMW 14:1 (Spring 2009) p. 3
attempt not to undermine empire but to substitute one empire for another (the Christian empire in place of the Roman empire). Thus Paul’s politics were as flawed as Rome’s. The apostle’s flawed political views were no doubt informed by his flawed views of gender and his embrace of patriarchy.
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