Believe it or not, that’s the line being run by a former evangelical, Keith Mascord, in today’s smh. After a brief summary of the potential issues with believing in a global flood (Genesis 6-9) he concludes,
the only reason a plain (and church-history-long) reading of the Noah story has been overturned in favour of seeing it as a localised flood, even if unconvincingly (or, more convincingly, as myth), is that scientific discoveries have made that necessary. Many of the first geologists were Christian clergymen. It was under pressure from their discoveries that the biblical text came to be reread and reappropriated.
This is, one must understand, a sophisticated argument. Not because the point being made is particularly brilliant but because it’s made by someone who understands Sydney Anglicans. They’re a conservative lot, but a popular position here is exactly that which Mascord outlines – geological evidence makes the acceptance of a universal Flood untenable. Mascord thinks he’s found a chink in the Sydney Anglican armour, and so on he goes…
There is good reason to think we will need to do the same with the issue of marriage equality. Throughout history and across cultures, and within the Bible itself, homosexual practice has been almost universally condemned. But we now know, or have increasingly strong reasons to believe, that people are born gay or lesbian. Far from this being unnatural for them, it is an example of God’s creative handiwork. And once again, advances in scientific understanding are occasioning a rethink of relevant biblical texts. As a result, straight Christians like me must take seriously the heartfelt desire of our gay and lesbian friends to share in the benefits and responsibilities of marriage
It’s a bit of a non-sequiter, isn’t it? The parallels just aren’t there. One might concede that “scientific evidence” means that we can’t accept a global Flood, but it’s not a concept that’s transferable to the issue of sexuality, or of any behaviour. It’s a little embarassing to say it, but Mascord gives the impression that he doesn’t understand basic orthodox belief on creation and sin. That someone is “born” with a particular trait is not necessarily evidence of “God’s creative handiwork”. We don’t live in a simple created world. It is both created and fallen. The argument would not hold for other behaviours.
If someone is born with a tendency towards violence, we don’t call that “an example of God’s creative handiwork”. If someone is born with a tendency towards alcoholism (of which there is much greater scientific evidence than any supposed “gay gene”), we don’t call that “an example of God’s creative handiwork”. If someone is born predisposed to certain cancers, we don’t call that “an example of God’s creative handiwork”. No, on each occasion we recognise, as Athanasius puts it, that the image of God is marred, flawed by the outworking of sin in the cosmos.
This is basic theology, friends. You might wish to concede the point on a global flood (although I wouldn’t personally – the approach itself betrays a certain attitude to Scripture) but that doesn’t mean you have to accept Mascord’s argument. Disagreements about the historicity of the flood are exactly that, disagreements over historical claims. Disagreements over being “born” gay are an entirely different category. That Mascord, who taught philosophy at Moore College for many years, seeks to equate the two arguments is particularly disappointing.