Monday, February 16, 2015


A Decision We Do Not Get To Make

Alexander Griswold writers about the Methodist discussion of sexuality and one of the UMC's chief protagonists for formal recognition of same-sex relationships:
Much of what Hamilton said about the Bible and how Christians should interpret it was relatively uncontroversial. He made the familiar points that the Bible was inspired by God, not verbally dictated as many believe, that biblical canon was formed after centuries of debate, and that many Old Testament commandments were declared moot at the Council of Jerusalem as depicted in Acts 15. But from there, things took a turn towards the controversial.

Hamilton said that every verse in the Bible that people found confusing or troubling fit into one of three “buckets,” which he illustrated using three physical buckets he brought with him. The largest bucket was composed of verses which were metaphors, such as the Creation story. The second largest bucket was verses that were relevant for a certain time and place, but no longer apply to Christians today, such as much of the Mosaic Law. But third, and most controversially, was Hamilton’s assertion that very few parts of the Bible “never ever reflected the heart and character of God.”
This is the kind of "logic" that anyone that attempts to justify church acceptance of same-sex practice has to exercise. The first thought that ran through my mind when I read that is, "How do you decide what is reflective of God and what is not?" There are actual standards that scholars can apply to determine what is Biblical metaphor. Likewise, the Bible itself, through later recorded events gives us a window into what time has changed. But what are the standards for simple rejection of some portion of the Bible? On what ground do we stand to make such bold claims.

Yes, the cannon is a man-made thing, but it has stood for at least 1500 years now. God acts in history. What are the acts of history that allow us now to make similar decisions. The cannon was established by a council of virtually everyone that mattered in the church - I doubt we could get everyone that matters in the church into a convention hall now and if we did I doubt they could agree on what to have for lunch, let alone something as monumental as doing away with some portion of scripture. Are there obvious signs from the Holy Spirit that this is in fact the way things should be?

Sometimes God's will is obvious for it holds even among the heathen. There are indeed societies where homosexual practice has been fairly widespread, particularly amongst the elite of those societies. But homosexual marriage? Never. Not to mention those societies died of corruption soon after the practices became commonplace. History seems to send a clear message that this part of scripture should not be ignored.

Finally, and most troubling is that to claim to know that some parts of scripture “never ever reflected the heart and character of God,” is to claim to know, intimately, the heart and character of God. It seems to me that sin would prevent such a thing. It seems to me that such a claim stands in violation of everything that defines Christianity. This theologically seems closer to Judaism that Christianity, but Judaism has a better since of man's fallen nature than this implies. This is simply to make ourselves God.

This is a decision we simply cannot make. If you want to argue for the sanction of same-sex relationships, fine do so, but do so within the confines of Christian thought. This argument has left the building.


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