current culture. The fact is, we live inrntimes that are so relentlessly and obsessivelyrn”modern” that the most modernrnthing a president could possibly do is tornput together a government that feels “notrnthe least bit modern.” In a society thatrnhas proudly assaulted as “judgmental”rneverytliing from federal law to everyday etiquette,rnit is positively futuristic—it’s downrightrnradical, for God’s sake—to be “blandrnand unadventurous.” And the governmentrnofficials whom a yawning Dowd dismissesrnfor their “adherence to tradition”?rnIn the post-Clinton United States of America,rnthose tradition-bound officials canrnproperly be called revolutionaries.rnMy own hope is that the Bush traditionalists/rnrevolutionaries have the courage tornbore us silly. I am ready for people who gornoff and do their jobs while keeping theirrnlips buttoned and their pants zipped. Afterrnhvo terms of the drama queen and the emperorrn(to be clear: Bill Clinton was the dramarnqueen; Hillary, the emperor), I amrnready for the very modern idea of beingrnentertained by boredom.rn]anet Scott Barlow, who writes fromrnCincinnati, Ohio, is the author ofrnThe Nonpatriotic President: A Surveyrnof the Clinton Years (Chronicles Press).rnRELIGIONrnDebating thern”Gentile Vice”rnby Mark TooleyrnAt its annual “Ministers Week” lecturesrnlast year, the theological schoolrnof Southern Methodist University (SMU)rnin Dallas provided a revealing window intornthe contemporar}’ debate within mainlinernchurch circles over homosexuality.rnTaking a pro-homosexuality approachrnwas Victor Furnish, a professor at SMU’srnPerkins School of Theology. Defendingrnthe traditional Christian stance wasrnRichard Hays of Duke Divinity School inrnNorth Carolina. Both seminaries arernMethodist institutions, but they trainrnministers for nearly all major mainlinernProtestant churches.rnOver 500 clergy and laity attended thernPerkins event. Furnish and Hays werernbotli frank about tlieir beliefs. For Furnish,rnthe Scriptures are not the final authorityrnbut an incomplete record that points to arnhigher authority. For Hays, the Bible isrnGod’s revealed will.rnFurnish warned against accepting thern”words of the Bible as collectively the Wordrnof God.” He seeks guidance from the “kergymaticrncore” of the Bible, which affirmsrnthe love and faithfulness of God. Thisrn”core” apparently excludes what the Biblernsays about tlie physical world, political instihitions,rndomestic and social relationships,rnand sex. The Bible’s attitudes toward thesernareas are “time-bound and culturally conditioned”;rntherefore, they are not reliablernguides for today, according to Furnish.rn”This means we must resist speakingrnponderously of Scriptures as providingrnnorms that are valid for all times andrnplaces,” Furnish argued. “Specific moralrnnorms are always derived from one trulyrnabsolute norm, which is the grace andrnfaithfulness of God.” He did not describernhow God’s grace can be fully definedrnwithout reliance on the biblical text.rn”We do the Bible no honor by regardingrnit as an inert static body of teachingsrnboxed up and tied tight by the creeds andrnchurch laws,” Furnish said. The Biblernmust “remain open to critique and correctionrnlike all of our creeds and statementsrnof faith.”rnThe Bible’s sexual morality was createdrnby “patriarchalism,” “stereotyping ofrngender roles,” and “total ignorance concerningrnthe complexities of sexual identity,”rnaccording to Furnish. For thernChurch to establish which parts of thernBible carry “authority,” Scripture mustrnconform to what we know about God asrndisclosed in Christ and to what we knowrnabout “Creation.”rnSpecific Scriptures that condemn homosexualrnbehavior are “simply no longerrncredible,” Furnish claimed. “None canrnstand unchallenged given what modernrnresearch is teaching us about human sexuality,”rnhe said. The Apostle Paul hadrn”no knowledge of sexual orientation.”rnTlie Bible’s expectation of sexual monogamy,rnaccording to Furnish, passes therntwofold test of conforming to what we knowrnof God’s love and to our modem knowledgernof tlie world. But the prohibitions againstrnhomosexual behavior and divorce fail.rnResponding to Furnish, Hays declaredrnthat the biblical texts about homosexualityrnspeak with one voice, and “there is nornserious doubt about their meaning.” Thernargument that Jesus never addressed homosexualityrnshows a “lack of historicalrnperspective,” Hays insisted. Jesus was arnfirst-century Jew who agreed with Jewishrnteaching that homosexual conduct was arn”gentile vice.” If he had taught anythingrnelse, it would have been the “basis forrncontroversy and slander by his enemies.”rnAlthough all scriptural texts agree inrntheir disapproval of homosexuality. Haysrnargued that a theological position shouldrnnot be based exclusively on such passages.rnInstead, his own views, and thosernof the historic Church, are based on arnconstant message throughout both thernOld and New Testaments that man andrnwoman are created for each other.rnHays said that a homosexual orientation,rneven if involuntary, is not morallyrnneutral. All of us live in the flesh withinrna fallen Creation and are prone to sinsrnthat are not freely chosen. “The Biblernimdercuts our obsession with sexual fulfillment,”rnHays argued. “Lives of freedom,rnjoy, and service are possible withoutrnsexual relations.” The Bible does notrnmake sexuality the “basis for defining arnperson’s identity or for finding meaningrnand fulfillment in life.”rnAltliough the Bible does speak of sexualrnpractices, it never acknowledges classes ofrnpersons based on sexual practice. And thernBible “never considers sexuality merely arnprivate matter between consenting adults.”rn”The Bible tells a story with which wernfind our identity,” Hays said. “The Biblerndoesn’t always tell us what we should do.rnBut when it does, we should listen longrnand hard . . . ” He argued against modernrnstudies that are “influenced by understandingsrnof humanity that are at oddsrnwith the New Testament.”rn”We cannot decide what it means tornlive in holiness before God by doing empiricalrnstudies taking polls about contemporaryrnsexual practices,” Hays insisted.rn”Contemporary culture . . . has producedrnenormous confusion, anxiety and debasementrnin our sexual lives.”rnVictor Furnish proposes to judge biblicalrnmaterial on what is “credible” forrn”modern people,” Hays noted. He calledrnFurnish’s proposal ironic, since modernrnpeople have produced an unprecedentedrnepidemic of divorce, sexually transmittedrndiseases, teen pregnancy, and abortion.rn”In view of our propensity for self-deception,rnI think it is prudent and necessary tornlet Scripture and Christian fradition orderrnthe life of the Church on this painfullyrnconfroversial matter,” Hays concluded.rnOther speakers besides Furnish espousedrnpro-homosexuality arguments,rnCharles Curran, a Catholic priest whornlost his teaching position at The CatholicrnMARCH 2001/45rnrnrn