Monday, February 26, 2007

Body and Bride II

The Anglican Scotist has a partial response to my criticism of his theological argument for the blessing of same-sex union. It's well worth reading, since it's a fairly good response. My original purpose in my previous post was to point out that there was no reason why the conservative Anglican would find the argument convincing, because it seems to be intrinsically flawed. I'm not an Anglican myself, so the issue is a little abstracted from my own vantage point, and I don't know if any conservative Anglicans would actually argue in the way I suggested. I still think, though, that the conservative Anglican can be on very strong ground in rejecting the argument, so I did want to say a thing or two about the response.

(1) With regard to the reply to (A) (for which, see the post), on the eschaton issue, it seems to me that there's a bit of a slide between taking the relation between Church and Christ as its savior as a model of marriage and taking the Church as a model of marriage. And that's an important difference; because none of the reasons for rejecting the latter carry over to the former. This is because the model that is put forward in Ephesians 5 is heavy on Christ's activity, not on the Church's. This is not surprising because the threefold analogy in the passage is characterized in terms of (1) love: Christ's unitive love for the Church, the self's unitive love for the body, the husband's unitive love for his wife; (2) caring service (i.e., serving out of love rather than servility): Christ's service to the Church (in 'handing himself over for her'), our natural service to our bodies, and a husband's service to his wife. Seen this way, the model proposed is one in which marriage is the middle analogue; it's analogous to a union below it (our union with our bodies) and to a union above it (Christ's union with the Church). However many flaws there may be in the Church's relation to Christ, no such flaws arise in Christ's relation to the Church, and it is that relation that is directly proposed as the model for marriage.

(2) There seems to be some confusion on the part of at least one of us with regard to (B). We are told by Paul himself in this very passage that one of the analogues is between self and body. The problem is that argument in question seems to require that the analogue be between self and body-part, because this is the only way we can defend the premise that Christ is in relation R to individuals of the Church, where R is the relation on which marriage is modeled. This premise was emphasized more than once in the original argument. The problem is that the conservative Anglican will be able to point out immediately that Christ is not in relation R to any individuals of the Church, but to the Church, because relation R, on which marriage is modeled, also has to be analogous to the relation between self and body. R is the relation between Christ and His Body. But it's a fallacy of division to assume that because Christ has relation R to His Body that he has relation R to every (or even any) individual in the Body. Now, Bates's response seems to me to start out right (with the point about distributive and collective properties) and then go wrong in the paragraph starting, "At any rate, I take it that (ii) is in fact false: that at the eschaton Christ does enter into a real, reciprocal relation with each individual believer." Because, I take it, no one disagrees with this. In fact, I suspect no one would disagree with the claim that Christ is now in a real, reciprocal relation with each individual believer, however imperfect it may be from the believer's side. What's in dispute is whether there is anything in the text requiring us to regard this relation as the model of marriage. And there is not. In Revelation, the Lamb's Bride is the New Jerusalem; in Ephesians it is the Body, the Church; in neither of these is it the individual. The fact that there is a salvific relation between Christ and individual seems very much like a red herring, because the conservative Anglican can simply deny that this is relevant to the discussion, and it isn't clear why anything said would lead us to conclude otherwise. If by R we meam, "whatever relation on which marriage is supposed to be modeled", we cannot direclty conclude from

(Christ)R(Church)

to

(Christ)R(individual member of the Church)

any more than we can, for any relation S, directly conclude from

(Self)S(Body)

to

(Self)S(Eye);

that would be a fallacy of division. So there seems to be a dilemma: the argument (as a response to the conservative Anglican) seems either to commit the fallacy of division or to require an argument for saying that the relevant relation between Christ and the Church is the very same with a relation between Christ and a member of the Church. The conservative Anglican is not simply going to concede the latter; he has no reason to do so given the texts at hand. And Bates rightly recognizes this; he addresses the issue. But his response only gives us two distinct relations (R and S in the original post, salvation1 and salvation2 in the second), and thus does not give us one relation on which marriage is to be modeled. Given that, the conservative Anglican can easily just take one of the relations to be the model of marriage and deny that the other has anything to do with the matter. What is needed is either an argument that shows that salvation1 and salvation2 are fundamentally the same exact relation (and thus if one is a model for marriage the other is as well) or an argument that Scripture in fact recognizes not just salvation1 but also salvation2 as a model for marriage. Otherwise, we seem to have an equivocation in the original argument: we are not to be able to get from premise 3, which would seem (given its justification) to require that R be something like salvation1, to the key premise 5, since premise 4 requires that R be something like salvation2. If the two aren't the same relation, we have an equivocation; if they are, we need a bridge argument to link premises 3 and 4 in such a way that they yield premise 5.

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