Ben Witherington: Eros Defended or Eros Defiled – What Do Wesley and the Bible Say?

An excellent Valentine’s Day gift from the gifted Dr. Witherington.

It’s  St. Valentine’s day,  a day which once was a holy day, and now has become a holiday. While I could spend some time as I have before on this blog on the subject of who St. Valentine really was, in the wake of the recent provocations by Jennifer Wright Knust and Michael Coogan trying to reinvent the wheel in regard the Bible’s supposedly mixed message on sexual ethics, in particular on the ethics of same sex  sexual intercourse,  it’s time to say— enough, is enough.

Neither the Bible, nor for that matter, my own Wesleyan heritage can be used to further the sort of agendas  Knust and Coogan want to promote.  The Bible is not an ink blot which one can read whatever way one pleases on controversial issues such as sexual ethics, and when the pontification involves absurd remarks like, Paul has no sexual ethic (has the author actually read 1 Corinthians 7?), or there can be little doubt that the love that David and Jonathan shared involved  eros not just philos,then it is indeed time to say, enough is enough. These are not only not plausible interpretations of key Biblical texts,  in light of the highly conservative sexual ethic of honor and shame cultures in the ANE [Ancient Near East] and in particular Jewish culture when it came to such matters, they are not even very possible interpretations of such material. What follows here is an expanded version of a piece I have offered before, with some tune ups in light of the recent salvos by Kunst and Coogan, and in preparation for the next batch of salvos on this subject that the 2012 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Read it all (and Happy VD!).