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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Richard Swinburne’s Toxic Lecture on Christian Morality

By J. Edward Hackett
Philosophical Percolations
Originally published September 24, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

While Swinburne did not think homosexuality was intrinsically wrong in the same way that adultery was wrong, he argued (if that’s the right verb under some principle of charity) that homosexuality was extrinsically wrong. Homosexuality was a disability in the lacking of the ability to have children, and God’s commands of abstaining from homosexuality might prevent others from fostering this incurable condition in others.

Yeah. I know.

My response was mixture of abhorrence and overwhelming anger, and I tried as I might to encounter this idea calmly. I told him he medicalized being gay in the same way that phrenology medicalized racism. It was obnoxious to listen to Christians lay claim to sacrificial love at this conference, but at the same time not see the virtue of that same love as a possible quality underlying other configurations, yet I told others this is the reason why Christians should read Foucault. When you do, you start to notice how power manifests in local contexts in which those discourses occur.

There was a way power was working in this discourse. Specifically, Foucault exposes how medicalizing discourse divorces the condition apart from the body of the patient. Swinburne advocated “sympathy and not censure” for homosexuals, those with the “incurable condition” and “disability.” In this medical context, medicine acts as a way to dehumanize the person without appearing as if that’s what you’re doing.

The blog post his here.