[A review of C. Norman Kraus, On Being Human: Sexual Orientation and the Image of God (Cascade Books, 2011)]
Reviewed by Ted Grimsrud
Norman Kraus provides something that has, by and large, been missing from Christian theological discussions about homosexuality—careful theological analysis of some of the foundational issues about how we understand human beings in the image of God.
This short book contains an essay from Kraus that is thoughtful, carefully laid out, and fairly dense, accompanied by several short responses to Kraus’s statement by people representing four somewhat diverse perspectives, though all laudatory of Kraus’s effort. While Kraus and his companions in this book are Mennonites and the book certainly speaks to Mennonite debates and efforts at discernment, it is written in a more general tone that makes the book relevant and useful for a variety of church-related contexts.
As I read it, this book most centrally argues for an understanding of human life where we recognize our creation in God’s image and, from that recognition, appreciate our created need for intimacy with other human beings and, for the vast majority of us, a need for one particularly intimate relationship that involves commitment, mutuality, and sexual expression.
Kraus does affirm, in this context, the moral validity of same-sex intimacy that follows the same moral expectations Christians affirm for heterosexual relationships—fidelity, a livelong commitment, shared life in the context of involvement in a congregation. He does this while giving little attention to the debate about the several short biblical passages that are usually affirmed or debunked as providing churches’ most authoritative guidance. Continue reading