Thursday, November 09, 2006

short discussion on christian ethics and homosexuality

Since I started it with my previous post, I will continue to discuss a little bit more about the ethics of homosexuality, especially with regards to Christianity. Setting the screwball argument aside, let me revisit this structure for the argument "homosexuality is unnatural, hence immoral":

Premise [1]: Homosexuality is unnatural
Premise [2]: Whatever is unnatural, must be immoral
hence, conclusion [C]: Homosexuality is immoral.

If one subscribes to Christian ethics, one might unpack premise [2] further, into something like this:

Premise [3]: Whatever is unnatural, is not from the intended design of God.
Premise [4]: Whatever is not the intended design of God, it is evil/immoral/sinful.

Now, I believe this is a gross over-simplification of Christian ethics, and is not quite the response a sophisticated Christian theologian would supply to the "Christianity vs Homosexuality" debate, but I think for purposes of this post, it will suffice.

Now supposing, (and a very big "supposing"), this is around the arena why Christians think homosexuality is immoral. One obvious implication from the formulation of this argument is the conclusion [C] cannot stand if one denies the existence of a God, or believes in the existence of a God but denies either premise [3] or premise [4] (or both).

That also means, atheists, agnostics, and basically anyone who is not Christian, Muslim or Jew, would probably fall in the category of "this argument does not work for me". My point is simple (although I've made a big detour in making it): Christian ethics don't apply to individuals who do not believe in the assumptions of Christianity. And that also means, a moral conclusion (such as "homosexuality is immoral") derived from Christian ethics (assuming it is so derived), also does not apply to these individuals.

The question is then, how then should Christians and non-Christians interact when it comes to such ethical controversies? If we declare, "Christian ethics only apply to Christians" and ignore them completely, would we not be guilty of oppressing and marginalizing Christians? Yet, if we make law (criminalizing homosexuality) based assumptions and postulations which don't apply to the certain groups of individuals, are we not oppressing and marginalizing those individuals instead?

This is only a short primer. I'm planning to blog about a more complex idea where Christians and homosexuals (or non-Christians, for that matter) can have a platform of discourse, and yet not compromise their own ethical beliefs. That idea will need to be rolled out in stages though, and I will blog about them separately, but soon.

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