In response to yesterday's "But the Bible says ..." post one commenter wrote:
I am always discouraged by the strategy of discounting one particular biblical passage by ridiculing others. It tends to imply that the whole revelation of scripture is, at bottom, contemptuous. Perhaps that is the point.Or not. Perhaps it is part of a long-term, ongoing effort to point out that Biblical texts out of context are hazardous to your health and to the health of others.
The case in point was Deuteronomy 22:28-29 ...
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.Pulling that text out of context and using it as an example of "what God says about marriage" makes as much sense as pulling any of the frequently quoted "clobber passages" out of context and using them as examples of "what God says about homosexuality." [If you want a great resource for "What the Bible Says and Doesn't Say About Homosexuality" see the piece by that name by Mel White.]
I remember being taught as a young Episcopalian that "we take the Bible too seriously to take it literally" ... and that early teaching continues to serve me well. Urban (Terry) Holmes wrote in his highly recommended "What is Anglicanism?"
Scripture for the Anglican is a fundamental source of authority for the church; but apart from reason it is dangerous. It becomes the mirror for the misdirected person to project his or her own opinions and give them the authority of God. The sin of schism in the result."Reason tells us that the texts we inherit as Holy Scripture must be read in context. And my experience tells me that when someone comes at me with the "But the Bible says ..." argument knowing what else the Bible says equips me to neutralize some of the damage done by those who project their own homophobia on texts-out-of-context and "give them the authority of God."
At the end of the day it has nothing to do with discounting or ridiculing Scripture and everything to do with using the Bible not as as a weapon of judgement, division and intolerance but as a tool of love, justice and compassion.