With the rash of gay teen suicides, there have been many nice religious people writing articles about how sad it is that this is happening. Some of the writers are dissident Catholics. Others are ministers for a variety of Protestant denominations. They are all very embarrassed or even angry about how their co-religionists treat gay people. I must admit that it’s very heartening.
Invariably the writers cite all kinds of biblical verses about how terrible hatred is. The problem with this, of course, is that the homophobes do the same thing to justify their antagonism to gay rights.
There is an exegetical battle taking place over this issue with each side claiming biblical justification for its position. This just underscores the problem with using the bible as a source of values. An ancient literary collection can no longer fill that need. It is simply not up to the task.
In ancient and medieval times the scriptures were regarded as the word of God. Even then moral reasoning did not really depend upon the text. In Judaism we see this in the sharp divisions among the rabbis of the Mishna, Talmud and later commentaries. Each interpreted the text in a way that reinforced his (alway his) independent moral judgments.
Today’s biblical discourse is a relic of misplaced reliance on this out-dated source of moral wisdom. I appreciate the efforts of those who seek a more humane exegesis. Humanizing the interpretive process does not legitimize it. The process of searching the bible for eternal wisdom is antiquated.
I wish that they would realize that the problem isn’t with how we interpret the book. The problem is the book.