Journal of Religious Ethics 40 (2):359 - 400 (2012)

Abstract
Revisionists and traditionalists appeal to Acts 15, welcoming the Gentiles, for analogies directing the church's response to homosexual persons. John Perry has analyzed the major positions. He faults revisionists for inadequate attention to the Jerusalem Decree and faults one traditionalist for using the Decree literally rather than through analogy. I argue that analogical use of the Decree must supplement rather than displace the plain sense. The Decree has been neglected due to assumptions that Paul opposed it, that it expired, or because Gentiles wanted non-kosher meat. I argue that Paul continued to observe the Torah and supported the Decree, that it has not expired, and that Gentile desire for non-kosher meat is not a firm obstacle. Affirming the plain sense of the Decree, I develop the analogy from Acts 15 to homosexual persons. One strand of the church's conversation about homosexuality compares present-day acceptance of homosexuals to the church's acceptance of Gentiles in Acts 15. In a previous article, "Gentiles and Homosexuals," I presented the history of that strand. In a reply to my article, Olson proposes to reimagine the analogy via the "radical new perspective on Paul" and argues that doing so exposes problems with my original analysis. I defend myself against these criticisms, while also entering into the spirit of Olson's reimagined analogy. Expanding the scope beyond Acts to Paul opens up important facets that might otherwise be obscured. In particular, it includes voices that are sometimes silenced, and presses both sides for an account of sexuality grounded in vocation and God's purposes in creation.
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