Forbidden voices

Forbidden voices December 2, 2011

There are more of us than you think.

Dianna E. Anderson: “On Why the Bible is Not Clear

On many controversial issues, especially those concerning women, the Bible is not “clear” and it is disingenuous, unfair, and hurtful to claim so without providing explained support.

… Claiming “the Bible is clear” on something is a way to malign dissent and to shut down debate. The person who makes the claim “The Bible is clear” is essentially telling other members of the discussion that their personal experiences don’t matter, that, in this instance, personal testimony doesn’t matter. And that’s wrong.

… This is never clearer than in the purity movement. … I heard over and over and over and over “The Bible is clear” that we shouldn’t have sex before marriage. It didn’t occur to me until last year (after 24 years of being told “the Bible is clear” and watching friends fail to live up to this standard and judging them when they did) to actually look at what the Bible has to say. And I found it sorely lacking. Premarital sex as it happens today – heck, dating, as it happens today – is absent in the world of the Bible.

Hugh Hollowell: “Open and Affirming Because of the Bible

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and to do to others what we want done to us. Is cheating on my partner wrong? Yes, because it is not how I would wish to be treated, and it is not loving toward my partner. It has nothing to do with my or my potential bedmate’s genitals.

Is having sex with a child wrong? Yes, because the child cannot consent, and thus it is an occasion of of power and coercion, neither of which is loving or how we would wish to be treated. Are two people (of any gender or orientation) having mutually consenting sex as an expression of their love and commitment wrong? It is loving and how I want my sexual relationships to work, so no, it is not.

I know this will not satisfy those who want to pick the Bible apart for rules and regulations, but that’s nothing new – Jesus talked about those who strained gnats and swallowed camels, who focused on letters instead of spirit and intent.

In short, I feel, as a result of Biblical principle and conscience, that to be less than fully inclusive is to participate in less than the fullness of the Gospel. In my reading of scripture, to actively oppose the full inclusion of LGBT Christians is an act that is less than Christian.

Brian McLaren: “Abortion and the Bible

This issue became a political wedge issue first. … Nearly all the energy was focused on using the issue to solidify voting blocks — not on exploring the issue honestly and reasonably in light of Scripture and tradition. (I’m sure there are some books out there that sought to do this, but they didn’t get center stage.)

Underneath the political surface, I think abortion became a battleground (for some people, not all) in the deeper social struggle over patriarchy. As patriarchy gave way to more democratic, egalitarian social relationships in home, church, and society at large, some advocates of feminism had much to gain by making the issue a battle over the rights of individual women to make decisions about their own bodies, struggling against the rights of powerful men to make decisions about women’s bodies. Traditional Christian religious bodies (speaking of bodies), always led exclusively by men until very recently, tended to respond to this struggle as an attack on their own right to exist as they always had — with men in control. The issue couldn’t be discussed without calling into question the whole authority structure of their communities, and thus nobody could pretend to be a disinterested, objective participant.

And there’s the larger historical framework as well … that conservative/fundamentalist Christians (especially in the South) had “lost” a series of battles (evolution, segregation) and wanted to stop the erosion of their power. …

Natalie Burris: “Mohler and MacArthur are not part of a long line of church leaders defending creationism

[Al] Mohler and [John] MacArthur place themselves in a long line of Christians who have defended six-day creationism. Their language makes one think the church has always supported a literal creation account. To reconcile Scripture and evolution, then, would be the church’s first — and dramatic — capitulation to “secular” thinking.

But throughout history, not everyone affirmed six-day creationism. Not all church fathers furthered a dichotomy between Scripture and science. The origins issue was not the controversy some have made it today; in fact, it was often a non-issue. …

When Mohler and MacArthur defend a literal reading of Genesis, they fail to realize they’re defending a relatively new interpretation, which differs from early church fathers’ interpretations.

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  • vsm

    I think I prefer “God gave Noah the rainbow sign/No more water but fire next time”. It never fails to send chills down my spine.

  • Anonymous

    But they still set things up when the daughter is at or near adulthood, which is also different from the Biblical setup.  In ancient Middle Eastern society, as in India to the present day, marriages were arranged years in advance, often when one or both parties involved were still young children.  This isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Bible, for the same reason that the Bible doesn’t say “The sky is blue, and things fall down instead of up.”

  • Anonymous

    And let’s not forget: abortifacient herbs were well known throughout the ancient world and were still frequently used in medieval Europe–arguably the most strongly Christian time and place in history.

  • Anonymous

    We might also be in different contexts. I’m in the U.S. I am also, however, not a lawyer. That said, if Anne sues Bob over something Bob did to Anne, and Anne wins, it means that what Bob did to Anne is legally impermissible or that Bob caused some harm to Anne for which he must make restitution.

    What Bob did may have been morally the right thing to do. For instance, if a child is drowning in Anne’s swimming pool, and Bob breaks the gate to get into the area and save the child, Anne can still sue Bob for breaking the gate. It wasn’t wrong to break the gate; it was, however, legally impermissible or it caused some harm to Anne (broken property) for which Bob must make restitution.

    As the recent shenanigans of the banks have taught us, there is a substantial difference between “morally wrong” and “illegal.”

  • P J Evans

     At one time in Europe, parents made marriage contracts for their children when the children were still very young – in some cases under 6 years old. (The church ruled against it.) Probably the most famous example is Anne Mowbray’s marriage in 1478 to Richard of York – she was about six and he was four. She died two years later and he died … sometime between 1484 and 1488.

  • Hawker40

    I have seen a version of the phrase that looked like a spiritual or hymn.  But now I can’t find it.

  • Amaryllis

    Here’s the Carter Family singing God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign. I believe Ralph Stanley also recorded the song.

    But I think that line is one of those “floating” verses that turn up in various versions in various songs. Seems to me I’ve heard it included in “Keep your hand on the plow,” and “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep,” and so on.

    And of course, there’s James Baldwin and The Fire Next Time, which to my shame I’ve never read. But it’s a great title.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, but that was mostly nobles–European peasants generally didn’t do the whole arranged-marriage thing.  In the Middle East and southern Asia, it was something everyone was expected to do, regardless of class.