I was asked, on another blog, “What warrant do we have for rejecting the Biblical consensus – or in the terms of the previous paragraph, of reinterpreting (reappraising) the data?”
This is a worthy question. One of the differences between modernists and reasserters is how they understand the biblical worldview. I think that worldviews are varied and plastic - even in our own time. I still hold to a unitive understanding of truth, but I think it is obvious that cultures have created vastly different ways of describing the world.
One aspect of the Old Testament world view was that property and sexuality were intrinsically linked. To have sex meant the creation of a child; children and women were assests to a family. Society, technology, and capitalism, have delinked the two. This is so deeply earthshaking that I suspect even traditionalists haven't gotten it.
Second, the natural law arguments describing sexuality are human interpretations of God's will. I believe we know little about the purpose of sexuality. We do know that sex does create children. But sex also creates bonds between people; it mitigates conflict; it develops communication; it makes people happy. I think scripture makes few claims about the purpose of sex - but its description is wonderfully multivalent.
Third, the biblical consensus around the mechanics of procreation may have been wrong. If semen was a scarce resource for the creation of children, then any misuse - masturbation, for example, would have been wrong because it didn't create wealth. If it not a scarce resource, then the justification for homosexuality may also have been wrong.
Fourth, homosexuality is more of a descriptuion of exclusion than a thing in itself. For example, many human cultures have conflated homosexuality with the foreign. The Old Testament is ambivalent about the status of foreigners - on one hand, we are called to be hospitable and open; but foreigners are also impure. Ethnicities continue to do this - claiming that the foreigner is what is decadent, while we, the nation, are pure. Modern thinking separates these claims.
My remarks simply point out that the "biblical consensus" around sexuality rests upon claims [which it does not make because everyone who read it assumed the same] not shared by a modern worldview. But this does not mean that we have lost everything. Surely, we know that respecting property is part of God's will; that we are called to love one another; and that we are continually accountable for keeping our covenant with God. The world also has not shifted so much that sin and holiness are not inconceivable in our culture.
But when the bible reads into us, it does not read the same people that were read even 400 years ago. Its message of God's love, His grace, and his strangeness, are still present, and still powerful.