D Howard Gilpin in his letter (‘Confusing God’s love, agape, with human love, eros,’ July 5) gives his analysis and interpretation of the concepts of erotic love and agape (non sexual) love in Paul’s Graeco/ Roman world as described in the New Testament.
Dr Ralph Blair (a self-confessed “gay evangelical Christian”) founded Evangelicals Concerned in the USA in 1975 and his conclusion on Paul’s preaching in Romans and elsewhere in the New Testament is specifically addressed to the pagan cultic practices — the loveless sex that went on in the idolatrist temples of the day.
We have two conflicting interpretations of human sexual behaviour in the early days of the Christian Church.
Committed heterosexual Christians can embrace both erotic and agapean love in their lives.
Historical references to human behaviour have to be placed in context and even then there may be insufficient evidence for absolutist conclusions.
In the late 1950s I spent two seasons on an archaeological dig on the site of the Romano/British city of Verulamium (today known as St Albans).
A renowned classicist, Sir Shepard Frere of Cambridge University, led the excavation. He was a wonderful English eccentric. He drove a white Rolls-Royce and he used to spear grilled sausages with a 6 inch nail which he fished out of the breast pocket of his working safari suit when having lunch in The Rose and Crown.
In the course of the dig we uncovered a building (probably 20 by 30 metres) with the remains of a water-flushed lavatory, recessed niches and alcoves. What did it represent? There was a heated debate among the lead archaeologists. Some argued that it was a brothel, others that it was an example of a cultic chapel or place of worship of the second century CE.
Historical certainty is often subjective.
I and some of my Presbyterian friends would dearly wish that some of the academics of Union Theological College, Belfast, would give analyses of human sexual behaviour as described in the New Testament.
George McNally, Limavady Road, Londonderry