As a result, proponents and opponents of homosexuality use different (and even opposite) interpretations of the same Biblical texts to support their arguments. John Corvino vs. Vatican: Homosexuality and the Bible It is always interesting and useful to review the two opposite viewpoints, when it comes to evaluating the relevance of both arguments. Such comparison is even more useful, when the arguments are based on the Biblical texts – the texts which still lack single unilateral interpretation.
John Corvino has become a well known advocate for the rights of homosexuals. He has used the major Biblical provisions to support his approval of homosexuality. In his work The Bible Condemns Usurers, Too he has used the analogy between homosexuality and the process of lending money for interest. In the Book of Exodus, we read: “if you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not exact interest for them” (Childs 33).
However, contemporary society actively utilizes the principles of interest in traditional banking practice (with the exception of Islamic banking which still relies on lending without interest). Does this mean that while the Bible prohibits homosexuality it still has the right to exist? In Corvino’s view, it does. Moreover, Corvino uses one of the strongest Biblical injunctions against homosexuality to suggest that the Bible has probably been erroneous! The Bible explicitly refers to “dishonorable passions.
Their women exchanges natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men” (Ziesler 97). Corvino tries to suggest, that although the Bible condemns homosexuality, the times and social conditions have changed. “Suppose that in Paul’s time homosexual relationships were typically exploitative, paganistic or pederastic” (Corvino). For Vatican, though such suggestions are at least weak.
First of all, Vatican unilaterally condemns homosexuality. Second, Vatican grounds its position on the same Biblical injunctions against homosexuality. It is remarkable, that Vatican primarily uses the same letter of Paul to Romans to support its strong condemnation of homosexuality: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised.
Amen” (Vatican Statement on Homosexuality). It is not difficult to guess what the Church would respond to Corvino: the Church would certainly defend the holy union between a man and a woman. The letter of Paul to Romans is the direct condemnation of homosexuality, and it is difficult not to deny that the Bible takes homosexual behavior as immoral. In 1997, Vatican released a Statement on Homosexuality. That Statement has become the brightest and the most understandable interpretation of Vatican’s position towards homosexuality.
“To choose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design” (Vatican Statement on Homosexuality). Even in the light of such strong Church’s arguments, Corvino’s position remains unchanged. He persistently tries to assure the public that we misinterpret Biblical provisions. Corvino grounds his position on the irrelevance of contemporary Biblical interpretations, and on the fact that many Biblical injunctions against homosexuality are at least outdated. Vatican would hardly agree with that position.
When the Bible says “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Ziesler 99), this does not mean that the Bible stands for homosexuality. Moreover, Vatican openly recognizes that it has appeared under the serious pressure to accept homosexuality. While Corvino suggests that the Church refuses to see homosexual relations as good, Vatican responds that “there is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church […] to conform to these pressure groups’ concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing” (Vatican Statement on Homosexuality).
For Vatican to reject homosexuality means not only to rely on certain Biblical passages; it means to evaluate the position of homosexuality proponents, and to re-direct the proponents’ arguments against themselves. Conclusion We have seen that both Vatican and John Corvino ground their research of homosexuality on the Bible. Moreover, Vatican and Corvino evaluate the same Biblical injunctions against homosexuality to prove that each of them keeps to a more correct path in the homosexuality debate.
The Bible openly condemns homosexuality. John Corvino suggests that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality are outdated and require re-consideration in the light of the changing societal conditions. Vatican keeps to the thought that homosexuality cannot be good, it cannot be harmless, and takes Corvino’s position as threatening to the religious stability of the society.
Both arguments deserve attention; both require detailed re-evaluation in terms of Biblical interpretations, and the analogies drawn by John Corvino. It would be incorrect to state that either Vatican or Corvino have failed to justify their position towards homosexuality. It will be better to say that as long as both positions exist and are defended in the society, we will be able to produce a more objective view on what homosexuality is, and whether it has the right to exist as a notion.
Works Cited Corvino, John. “The Bible Condemned Usurers, Too. ” Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, 24 (1996): 29-32. Childs, Brevard S. The Book of Exodus: A Critical Theological Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press, 1974. “Vatican Statement on Homosexuality”. 1997. Catholic World News. 06 March 2008. http://www. cwnews. com/news/viewstory. cfm? recnum=4548 Ziesler, John A. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. New Testament Commentaries. CRM Press.