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680 BOOK REVIEWS Homosexuality ana the Christian Way of Life. By EDWARD A. MALLOY, C.S.C. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1981. Pp. 365. $24.00 cloth; $13.25 paper. A growing number of Christian authors remain persuaded of the soundness of the church's historic opposition to homosexuality, but also recognize a need to engage the revisionary challengers in open and serious dialogue instead of attempting to suppress them. Edward Malloy's book is the first of this kind by a Catholic scholar, and it is notably different from recent works by conservative Protestants (e.g., Richard Lovelace and Don Williams) arguing essentially the same thesis. By contrast with these latter, whose predominant emphasis is scriptural with varying degrees of bias against scientific or experiential reflection as a source of ethical wisdom, Malloy devotes the first half of his volume to a discussion of homosexuality in terms of contemporary experience and scientific writing. His task in this section is to establish an understanding of "the Homosexual Way of Life," which he then examines (in Part II) according to theological criteria which include moral analysis along with biblical data. The two opening chapters offer a definitional and historico-cultural framework. Rejecting the invert/pervert distinction as ambiguous and question-begging, Malloy adopts the concept of quasi-exclusive erotic attraction to the same sex as providing a working definition of adult homosexuals while allowing for considerable behavioral and psychic variation among individual gay persons. His brief historical sketch concludes that even relatively tolerant cultures, including ancient Greece, "declined to accept homosexuality as a normal or desirable behavior pattern" (35). Proceeding to address the problem of stereotyping, Malloy repudiates the caricature of gay persons as generally either imitative or hostile in regard to the opposite sex; he acknowledges that " the majority of homosexuals seem to be relatively indistinguishable from the average citizen" (38). But he ends his discussion by questioning ("on the basis of the available evidence") the extent of the potential for opposite-sex friend, ship among homosexual people and taking concerned note of the overt sexual hostility discernible "primarily in the lesbian movement" at present (41). In ensuing chapters of Part I, Malloy accepts the Kinsey statistics on homosexuality as essentially reliable and then reviews competing etiological theories, vigorously opposing the "sickness" modellargely because, in his view, it undermines ethical analysis-and opting for " a multidimensional explanation " which recognizes the influence of " biological, psychological, sociological and experiential factors '1 con- BOOK REVIEWS 681 tributing to what is ("we are fairly sure") essentially a "learned" disposition (98). A chapter descriptively surveying gay social institutions and usages predominantly in the male subculture-ranging from anonymous encounters and casual settings (baths, bars) through more stable involvements in partnerships, friendships, and gay organizations (homophile political and religious movements)-concludes with skepticism about the viability of committed partnerships for most homosexuals and with an unresolved question as to whether the other alternatives just listed " are basically a form of :flourishing or a form of coping" (137). In the next chapter, "Homosexuals and the Civil Law" (misprinted" Civil War" in the table of contents), Malloy considers " the effort to win basic civil rights for homosexuals a step in the right direction," explaining that " it is possible to embrace a moderate policy of legal reform without abandoning the values of the Judaeo-Christian sexual ethic" (155, 160). Closing the first section of his volume with a chapter entitled " The Homosexual Way of Life," Malloy portrays this as " a pattern of social organization " ultimately based on " commitment to unrestricted personal sexual freedom," which thus undermines "any attempt to enforce sexual standards of a more restrictive sort, whether based on political, social or religious grounds" (181). He acknowledges, however, that individual homosexuals can be committed to other values which motivate them to pursue a relatively restrained or even celibate sexual lifestyle while participating in social dimensions of the gay subculture (165, 175). The theological and ethical reflections comprising Part II begin with a review of scriptural material. As regards the loci classici in both OT and NT, Malloy declines to eliminate all anti-homosexual meaning from these passages (as some revisionary exegetes have attempted to do...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 680-684
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-15
Open Access
No
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