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Subject To Interpretation

Written by: on March 16, 2017

Summary:

God, Sex, and Gender An Introduction by Adrian Thatcher is just that that on the subject, an introduction. The author introduces the issues, the ideas, and the connection between the three. Thatcher does a good job in clearly and in plain vernacular express the secular and the sacred positions as well as the historical traditions for the concepts of sex and gender and how they connect and intersect with God and theology.

Thatcher is a self proclaimed Christ follower (Anglican) and a professor of theology and philosophy. He is also a straight, male, heterosexual. His proclaimed aim in writing the book is continue this conversation among the Christian and non-Christian community and “offer to university and college lecturers a comprehensive core text” (Thatcher, xi) on this subject. The author begins with a historical and theological view of sex, sexuality, and gender from biblical times to present. He continues with a theology of sex, marriage, abstinence, and sexual activity. Thatcher continues to the most liberal of his writing dealing with gender issue of God, Body of Christ, and the basic ideology of gender. He concludes with a rational debate of “Same-Sex love” and the effects of such lifestyles and various effects of sexual choices.

 

Analysis:
For me there were a few dominate themes throughout the book: the dominance of the male figure; the weight and place of personal experience and church tradition in relation to the inerrancy, infallibility, and inspiration of the literal Word of God; “subject to interpretation” use of support materials. I would first say that I really enjoyed reading the book, a bit scandalous at times, but a great perspective for both inside and outside the church on this subject matter. I disagree mostly with the interpretation of Scripture, not the use of it. I also think the author is endeavoring to walk a very difficult, if not impossible, line between the secular and the sacred.

I think the author presents good and through arguments. However, my concern is it may be more revisionist history and subjective projection than unvarnished truth. With this in mind I am left with more questions than answers. I also am not completely conclusive on my views and I think it is healthy to seek to understand first. However, there are strong leanings forming and moorings in the water on this subject matter.

Thatcher presents and deals with the dominance of the male figure, historically, sexually, Biblically, and verbally/linguistically. It begs the question: has political correctness and need for cultural relevance overtaken a possible observable fact? I know I am on thin ice, but facts remain: Jesus was born as a man; Mary is not divine, she adds the “human” element to the Jesus narrative; Jesus refers himself, as well as most of the Bible’s human authors, to God as father or a man. These and other facts do not have diminish the role, value, or equality of women. I believe the Bible teaches that men and women are of equal value, but of different function. That being stated, is it possible that political correctness and culture are driving this need to reduce men or increase women in the conversation? Because it is certainly not sound hermeneutics or exegesis.

The elevation of personal experience, personal opinion, and/or church tradition (essence we have believed this for so long, therefore it must be true) over Holy Scripture. Is it possible that God meant what he said in the law about the sin of homosexuality? Or that God meant what he said about marriage being between one man and one women? Or that transgender or transvestites are not covered nor approved by Holy Scripture? Or that if God had breasts, balls, or other genitalia the Bible would or could state this, but it does not. Therefore, we are left with what God did state and reveal about himself and his creation and it needs very little introduction in its sexuality or gender identity.

Last, although I believe Thatcher presents some worthy conversations and ideas, I relegate most of his thoughts and those he uses to support his ideas and suppositions as “subject to interpretation” category. By doing this with scripture, Thatcher gets to present his ideas and not necessarily the Truth, but more an opinion. Unfortunately, that is were I find a great deal of the ideas presented. They are not face value scripture, but a filtered interpretation.

Again, I appreciate Thatcher, his writings, and his perspective. I don’t want to bully or silence anyone one this subject matter. I do think this is a worth while conversation. However, I do question some basic premises and ideologies that are paramount to Thatchers’ interpretation. Therefore I categorize this week’s reading as a valuable discourse, but subject to interpretation.

About the Author

Aaron Cole

11 responses to “Subject To Interpretation”

  1. mm Garfield Harvey says:

    Aaron,
    Great perspectives in this blog. You asked, “has political correctness and need for cultural relevance overtaken a possible observable fact?” Yes, I believe this to be true. Think about the many churches who accept state funds; they become resistant to their objection to sinful practices in fear of losing funding and members. Think about our denominational tribe, we use tokenism in ordaining women pastors, but if we were truly comfortable, we’d have more women lead pastors. In my opinion, the church at large is always looking over its shoulder to ensure they are relevant and sensitive. Embracing people doesn’t mean we accept their practices, but we’ve often dismissed them if we don’t know how to embrace them.

    Garfield

  2. “I believe the Bible teaches that men and women are of equal value, but of different function.” I am unsure what you mean by this and how it practically looks. The OT and Paul seem to make the opposite case in many areas.

    • Aaron Cole says:

      Aaron,

      Let me explain it this way and let me know if it makes sense. I believe that Jesus is the great equalizer (not a differentator of men or men, saved or lost, he came for all. Paul’s writing to Church in Galatians (chapter 3), women are of equal value to men. Based upon God’s creation of Male and female we serve different function in the partnership of marriage.

  3. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Aaron:
    Great post with a balanced look at Thatcher’s view and your embracing of historical Biblical truth. Do you believe that sexuality is a “moving target” Biblically?

    Why does anyone, Thatcher or whomever, have the right to take their interpretation and impose it onto us in light of the break with traditional and biblical history?

    Phil

    • Aaron Cole says:

      Phil,

      Thanks for reading the blog. No i do not feel that sexuality is a moving target biblically. I agree with your sentiment regarding contemporary “moving” of theological fundamentals.

      Aaron

  4. Claire Appiah says:

    Aaron,
    You offer a very objective, sound, and comprehensive critique of Thatcher’s book that I totally agree with, but do not have the capability of articulating it as you have done so adeptly. You are spot on with your evaluation of the book. You remarked that, “It is not sound hermeneutics or exegesis.” You also stated, “I do question some basic premises and ideologies that are paramount to Thatcher’s interpretation. Therefore, I categorize this week’s reading as a valuable discourse, but subject to interpretation.”

    I know that Thatcher’s targeted audience for this book are the undergraduate and graduate students in colleges and universities. But, what impact do you think this book would have on a new Christian teenager who read it because they wanted to learn all they could about God, especially from the so-called theological experts?

  5. Aaron Cole says:

    Claire,

    Thank you for reading and your kind words. I think that Thatcher’s book in the hands of a sincere Christian teen desiring to know and understand God could be very destructive in that it teaches that all scripture is flexible with cultural norms and it erodes at the foundation of aboslute truth. Thus leading to everyone do “right” in their own eyes.

    Aaron

  6. Pablo Morales says:

    Aaron, after reading your blog I realized that we had a similar perspective about the book. I was intrigued at the beginning, but when I started discovering the author’s agenda, I started wishing for a more honest book on the topic.

    You may want to learn about a ministry that was established by a man who lived a homosexual lifestyle but abandoned it after coming to the Lord. He has a powerful and honest testimony and a more solid theological framework. He did a session at our church a few years ago, and we found it very insightful. His website is http://livehope.org.
    Pablo

  7. Kevin Norwood says:

    Aaron,

    You said it so much better than I did. I saw that he quoted theologians instead of the Bible ever. The liberal nature of the book made statements of interpretation without any foundation. Thanks for being so clear on these thoughts.

    Kevin

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