Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Last Taboo

Well, one of them anyway...

The Premier Christian Radio program Unbelievable is one of my favorite podcasts.  Yeah, I know; I'm one complex atheist.  I wrote to host Justin Brierley for the first time this evening.  Most any of his programs would be good for a couple hours of discussion, but his most recent program struck a chord. 

I am moved to comment by the arrogance displayed by several of the evangelicals you interviewed for your pleasantly balanced piece on Steve Chalke's public affirmation of committed, faithful gay relationships.  His detractors, who come across as letter-of-the-law pharisees, attempt to dismiss homosexuality as "same sex attraction," a canard that would equate homosexuality with a heterosexual man's preference for redheads over brunettes.  It seems to me that evangelical and other fundamentalist Christians must decide if they will continue to put the Bible ahead of their Christianity, or their version of Christianity ahead of their humble love of Christ.

Perhaps our gay friends are confused when the Bible-believing Christian quotes Matthew 19 to inferentially repudiate their hopes for same sex marriage.

Matthew 19
And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

For it continues...

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
They say unto Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Our gay friends are no doubt wondering why, since Jesus was explicit on the issue of remarriage after divorce (for reasons other than adultery), why there are so many straight Christians who do not heed the word of their Lord.  There are homosexuals in this world, made that way by a God who created them in His own image, who live more Christian lives than many holier-than-thou, homophobic church leaders who engage in serial monogamy, divorce, and remarriage (adultery, Matt. 19:9).  Jesus had strong advice for people with logs in their own eyes.

The Bible is not the Church.  The Church is people, most especially those who strive to become more Christ-like.  Genocide is now immoral.  Slavery is now an evil.  Miscegenation is no longer a crime.  Beating our children is now wrong.  Women (including your wife, Justin) are not only allowed to speak in church, but to lead congregations of the faithful.  Time for everyone to grow up, to set aside childish things, including highly selective interpretations of scripture that suit only their basest fears and prejudices.

Yeah, some days it's weird being a non-theist who is deeply interested in religion.

1 comment:

  1. When it comes to the Bible the phrase "A little learning is a dangerous thing" is just as true as with anything else.

    Two wrongs do not make a right. If a person A commits sin B he is individually guilty for sin B. If person B commits sin C he is guilty for sin C and the guilt of person A is irrelevant in reference to his guilt. It's like the child who got caught by the parents for breaking a rule and justifying their actions because their brother did something else that was bad too. It doesn't change anything, other than them both being guilty and in trouble with the parents.

    I'm not really sure what the point of this article is, unless the point is to show that Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin need to stop condemning it as sin because they are guilty for other sins... but that doesn't make any sense.

    Ignoring your assumption that homosexuality does not involve choices, which it does, the Christian's response to sexual sin should be to treat all sexual sin equally. Adultery, bestiality, fornication, homosexuality, Lust, pedophilia, etc., are all equally sin.

    But if your point is that Christians shouldn't pick and choose which sexual sins are the worst, then I agree - all sexual sin ought to be equally avoided. If your point is that since some Christians commit some sexual sin therefore all sexual sin (though I would guess bestiality and pedophilia might not be tolerated) ought to be accepted, then I disagree, for obvious reasons.

    The Bible is not the church, true. But the church knows how to live and operate based on the Bible, so I'm not sure your point here either - if you have some other objective standard that you believe we should follow instead of the Bible, then I'd like to see it. If your point is that the church should be less focused on the Bible and be more focused on being Christ-like (whatever that means), then without the Bible how on earth is a Christian to determine what actions are more "Christ-like" and what ones are less "Christ-like"?

    After this you fall into the typical atheist eisegesis of Scripture - which there is no end of scholarly responses.

    1. Man directed genocide has always been wrong (different that God commanded)
    2. Race based slavery has always been wrong (different from indentured servant-hood)
    3. Beating our children has always been wrong (different than spanking or disciplining)
    4. Women are still not allowed to be preachers most conservative churches.

    You say that we should set aside childish things, like "including highly selective interpretations of scripture that suit only their basest fears and prejudices." What interpretation of Scripture are you suggesting? Homosexuality? Any reason we should interpret it how you say?

    If we are setting things aside, how about we start with eisegesis and stick to exegesis.