In an article called "The First of Institutions," theologian Gilbert Meilaender writes that conversations about homosexuality should begin with a discussion of marriage.
As headlines from both coasts indicate, there is increasing argument about the morality of homosexuality and about the proper response to social and ecclesiastical demands by homosexual rights activists. In an insightful article called "The First of Institutions" (which is available as a pdf file here), Gilbert Meilaender establishes a framework for the portion of the discussion that focuses on theological ethics. Meilaender writes that conversations about homosexuality should begin with a discussion of marriage and its purposes because marriage is the first of institutions and, as such, has much to say about the nature of sexuality and love. He proceeds to define the purposes of marriage and what they imply about sexuality, and only then moves on to the Bible's evaluation of homosexual behavior and what others have said about it. He concludes by measuring the latter against the former. "The First of Institutions" was published originally in Pro Ecclesia, Volume VI, Number 4.
Meilaender has appeared on various issues of the Journal. [Posted April 2004, ALG]
John F. Kilner is one of the editors of The Reproductive Revolution: A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality, Reproductive Technologies, and the Family (Eerdmans, 2000). Earlier books on which he collaborated include Bioethics and the Future of Medicine: A Christian Appraisal (Eerdmans, 1995), Dignity and Dying: A Christian Appraisal (Eerdmans, 1996); "The Way They Were, the Way We Are: Bioethics and the Holocaust" (First Things, March 1990), and Genetic Ethics: Do the Ends Justify the Genes? (Eerdmans, 1997). MARS HILL AUDIO recently produced an audio anthology called The Ethics of Human Cloning, which may be ordered by calling 1.800.331.6407. We also have available an unabridged audio edition of Gilbert Meilaender's Bioethics: A Primer for Christians. Additional resources include: C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (Simon and Schuster Trade, 1990); Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (Knopf, 1964); Albert Borgmann, Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry (University of Chicago Press, 1984); Albert Borgmann, Crossing the Postmodern Divide (University of Chicago Press, 1992); George Parkin Grant, Technology and Justice (University of Notre Dame Press, 1986); Stanley Hauerwas, Naming the Silences: God, Medicine, and the Problem of Suffering (Eerdmans, 1990); Stanley Hauerwas, Suffering Presence: Theological Reflections on Medicine, the Mentally Handicapped, and the Church (University of Norte Dame Press, 1986); Leon R. Kass, Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs (New York: Free Press, 1985); Stephen E. Lammers, editor, On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives in Medical Ethics (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987); C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (Macmillan Publishing Company, 1947); Richard John Neuhaus, "The Excitable Dr. Watson" (First Things, June/July 1990, pp. 67f); Richard John Neuhaus, editor, Guaranteeing the Good Life: Medicine and the Return of Eugenics (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990); Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (Knopf, 1992); Paul Ramsey, Ethics at the Edges of Life: Medical and Legal Intersections (Yale University Press, 1978); Max L. Stackhouse, "Godly Cooking? Theological Ethics and Technological Society" (First Things, May 1991, pp. 22-29); and Michael Aeschliman, The Restitution of Man: C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983). Gilbert Meilaender's Body, Soul, and Bioethics (Notre Dame, 1995) looks at how the field of bioethics has developed over the last 25 years, and how in his view some questions have been asked and/or answered badly. Also see Jeremy Rifkin's The Biotech Century (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1998). Nigel Cameron's book, The New Medicine: Life and Death after Hippocrates, has been re-issued (in the summer of 2001) by The Bioethics Press. Dr. Cameron is a senior fellow with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (www.cbhd.org). The fellows of the Center have been involved with the publication of a number of important books on bioethics, including the anthology Bioengagement: Making a Christian Difference Through Bioethics Today (Eerdmans, 2000).[Posted between October 2001 and June 2002, ALG]