Ross Douthat’s Book “Bad Religion” and Homosexuality – Slate Magazine


From Slate.com I came across this interesting series which carries on a respectful and quite civil dialogue with William Saletan on religion and sexuality, and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat—whose new book Bad Religion triggered the exchange. Saletan offers a simple and honest explanation of his stand on homosexuality.   Saletan is the “godless heathen” in these exchanges (pun intended) while Douthat professes to be a Christian seeking some sort of reconciliation between what he terms Christian orthodoxy and modern sensibilities.

I find it troubling that Douthat coins the term “Christian orthodoxy” which he might be more correct to call simply traditional teachings.  Interestingly enough, in Entry #2 Douthat makes an oblique reference to Orthodox Christianity which is differentiated by the capital-O, and rightly claims that Orthodoxy is ancient, going back to the roots of the Christian church. What he is talking about in that instance is the eastern or Greek originated branch of Christianity, what is now generally described as the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Douthat explicitly disassociates Christian conservatism and orthodoxy from fundamentalism. Somewhat shockingly, he suggests that a retreat to a form of orthodoxy may be what it needed to properly reconcile Christianity and homosexuals. Reflecting on this a bit, I think that Douthat has a point because orthodox Christianity in general, and Orthodox Christianity as practiced in the Eastern Christian world does not condemn homosexuals per-se, but only homosexual activity. Orthodoxy in particular dwells quite a bit on man’s fallen nature and our propensity to sin, with God being the only one capable of judging sinners although it teaches believers to recognize and condemn sin while offering love to the fallen. I shall explore this topic more fully in a future essay of my own.

It is worthwhile to read all 10 of these exchanges although I think that Douthat misses the point in that his conclusion that traditional teaching has to change is wrong because Holy tradition and Christian doctrine does not belong to either the homosexuals or to traditionalists. The doctrines and dogmas of Christainity belong to the ages before, now, and forever.

Linked article:

Ross Douthat’s Bad Religion: Faith and American culture. – Slate Magazine.

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