Essay on Authority in Lisa Cahill’s “Homosexuality"

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Authority in Lisa Cahill’s “Homosexuality

The most difficult part of any modern theological debate is choosing the authority. With the variety of Christian denominations, individual thinkers, and outside influences, and it is often difficult to reach a general agreement. In her essay, “Homosexuality: A Case Study in Moral Argument,” Catholic theologian Lisa Cahill examines four major authorities and different ways to determine how they work together to produce a cohesive Christian ethic. Though she fails to give a definitive, quantifiable method of describing the interactions between the authorities, her final judgment, approval of some aspects of homosexuality, indicates that she values modern cultural context and general
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When referring to related texts, Cahill sticks closer to tradition, noting that many parts of the Bible emphasize heterosexual marriage and the family as the norm (67). However, her analysis of general biblical themes cites loving relationships and Jesus Christ’s model of forgiveness and acceptance as the authoritative themes across the Scriptures (68). The contradictions between the three areas of Scripture lead her to question whether Scripture is the ultimate authority for Christian ethics. This departure from Roman Catholic traditional teaching indicates her preference for the inclusion of other authorities in Christian ethical debates.

Cahill’s second authority is experience, particularly those accounts of humanity that can be supported by empirical evidence. One contribution of science, the concept of a homosexual orientation distinct from individual homosexual acts, is particularly relevant to her argument, because it creates a difference in cultural contexts between biblical times and modernity (69). This strengthens her argument that Scripture should be read with the historical context always in mind. Though she mentions studies about the frequency of homosexuality across cultures, she does not find this point particularly useful because there is not, and probably never can be, an agreed upon way of defining what statistical frequency makes a behavior normal (69). As an

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