Quick Footnote & Synecdoche

In my last post, I quoted the comment by a Catholic Right blogger that set me off in the thread on her blog, but I didn’t realize, until I typed it out on my page, just how jaw-dropping that comment was. Here it is again:

As for Frank… he is a Christian who does not believe the Christian teaching on sexual sin. It’s a head-scratcher to me. Why bother being a Christian if the one thing Jesus died to save us from is sort of… cool now? If the moral law can be jettisoned after two millennia in favor of the spirit of the age (led by secular sentiment, not any religious orthodoxy of any kind), then what is the point?

See why I say I’m a bad Episcopalian? I was so wrapped up in her attack on me I didn’t realize what she was saying about Jesus.

For context, the sentences that followed are in the same vein: “Will Christ be impressed when you tell him someday that sodomy is cool because the secular elites in 21st Century America said it was? Shaking my head…”

Unless I’m reading that wrong, she’s saying that “the one thing Jesus died to save us from” is “sexual sin,” by which she means gay sex, or maybe non-procreative sex (gay sex, contraception, masturbation).

I don’t think she actually believes that—I’m sure it was just a slip of overheated rhetoric. But she said it, and it sure does feel like that’s what we can take from these debates. Jesus died, most of all, to save us from consensual gay sex. 

I’ve been thinking about the way our interpretation of the story of Sodom & Gomorrah works as synecdoche, as a microcosm, for our cultural interpretation of the Bible as a whole. Think about it. You start with a story that vehemently condemns cruelty, greed, and a lack of charity. There’s a sexual element in it, sure, but the only specific sexual sin clearly named involves horrific violence (the attempted rape of the angels). And yet, somehow, the story gets associated with certain sexual acts, and that association becomes so strong that now, the word sodomy basically means gay sex.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like the process by which the whole Bible has been reduced and distorted to the point where, in 2014, a prominent religious blogger is telling me that the *one thing* Jesus died to save us from is gay sex?


3 thoughts on “Quick Footnote & Synecdoche

  1. Yeah, I noticed that the first time I read that comment. It’s actually not that surprising. I remember reading a very conservative Catholic talking about the sins that soldiers commit during a war. He rued, “If the soldiers were committing acts of lust, perhaps Christians would be more concerned about unjust wars.”

  2. Pingback: The Episcopal Church: All Apologies (an Index) | Letters to the Catholic Right

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