The Bible Is Not a Rulebook for Other People

The Bible Is Not a Rulebook for Other People April 9, 2012

Tony Jones recently invited Scot Miller to blog about Robert A.K. Gagnon’s massive, circle-the-wagons text on The Bible and Homosexual Practice.

The link above there is to Tony’s wrap-up, which links back to all six parts of Miller’s review, which is thorough and incisive. Miller gets to the heart of his disagreement with Gagnon — and to the fact that the heart of that disagreement is not at all what Gagnon seems to imagine it to be — a conflict between Gagnon, righteous defender of the Bible, and the apostates who despise that Bible because they love gays so much. I recommend reading all six parts of Miller’s review.

Scott Paeth sums it up this way:

As Miller notes, Gagnon seems to have decided what he wanted the Bible to mean on the subject of homosexuality, and then read the Bible in the way that reinforced that.

But there are other ways to put the Bible at the center of one’s faith, and for me, understanding it not as a set of divinely ordained commands and norms, but as the very human story of how the community of faith comes to understand itself as related to God, in a very fallible and evolving way, is much truer to what one can actually read from the text. And what that means for the Christian community is that we too have to struggle to understand ourselves as related to God, in light of the experiences of those who have come before us, and in conversation with the world we find ourselves in the midst of. At the center is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which defines the core of the Christian reality. Apart from that, we are in dialogue both those who came before us, and those who travel the road with us now.

Which is all good and interesting and actually quite important. But not quite as good, interesting or important as this note, from one of “those who travel the road with us now”:

And I don’t know what will happen but I am done playing like I’m something I’m not and if my parents don’t love me anymore because of this then I realize that’s not my problem and it will hurt but not as much as the way I hurt right now. I feel like if my mom and dad would just think about things they’d realize that what they always say and how they always hate gays is not what Jesus would do and maybe there is a chance that they will some day love me like Jesus would. I am their kid afterall.

Any hermeneutic that can’t contend with those three sentences isn’t worth defending.

The Bible is not a Rulebook for Other People. Those who pretend that it is are always, always trying to tell you who it is that you don’t have to love. When that’s your starting point, you’re reading it wrong.

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